How Do I Get Control of My Calendar?

This week's question from “Ask Us Anything” comes from someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

I’ve let my calendar get the best of me. My to-do tasks get filled in around whatever open space I have. I get drawn into answering emails that seem important in the moment, but they’re not. How can I anchor my day?

How do you and David manage your calendars? Do you have a to-do list? Do you segment your day, based on what you’re doing that day?

First of all, you’re not a victim to your calendar. You create your calendar. You’re in control of it.

You can create your days however you want to create them.

David and I manage our calendars differently, in a way that suits our personalities. We time-block some things, and don’t time-block other things.

For David, Mondays are usually podcast recordings and research days. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are TEM90 and coaching calls. Thursdays and Fridays, we schedule our VIP days, our custom VIP days, or any travel.

For me, it’s a bit more complicated, because I have more small things that I do on a daily basis.

What I’m hearing in your question is that you’ve got a real problem keeping boundaries around your calendar, and with what you say you’re going to do.

With email, you have to decide when you’re going to answer email. That’s all that matters. I don’t care if something seems urgent—it’s not.

There’s nothing that can’t wait 90 minutes, 2 hours, or even 3 hours. You don’t need to respond.

It’s a trick of your subconscious mind designed to completely distract you and keep you from doing the things you say you’re going to do.

That just takes discipline. Tell yourself, “I’m going to answer my email at this time of day and this time of day—and that’s enough.”

It always is enough. There’s nothing that can’t wait.

If you have a team and something urgent pops up, or something’s bleeding or on fire, then give your team access to you through text, so they can message you in case of emergencies, rather than email you. That will take care of the need to constantly check email.

You can also set up clear boundaries with your clients. If you email me or David on Friday, you won’t get an answer until after the weekend, because there’s so much going on on Friday.

Part of that is communicating boundaries with your clients about when they can expect a response from you.

Everything that goes into your calendar should be purposeful, and reverse-engineered from where you want to go.

The “big rocks” go on my calendar first—travel, big family events, holidays, vacations.

Next, any midsized things (like trainings) go on the calendar.

Finally, I break each of those down into what needs to happen to get to those end results. I put those tasks on my calendar.

Everything I do is reverse-engineered from where I want us to be, by when.

I do have a to do list. (It helps keep my brain straight.) I usually only have three things on it that I absolutely must get done that day.

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