Imagine you were starting a new job. Here is a quick tip about how to manage your diary.New job? Congratulations. Well done. Here's a tip to ensure you give yourself the best start possible:
"Invest time is making sure your diary is properly planned"
Why? Because if you can't get your diary right. You're doomed. You need to completely and utterly trust your diary. Your diary is your life! (In later posts I'll talk more about diary, productivity and GTD)
First things first. Explore the hard landscape.Speak to your new Boss. "Hi, nice to meet you. Very excited about this role etc etc"
Here's what you're asking them:
- What are the major meetings that you are expected to attend?
- How often do these meetings occur?
- What is my role within this meeting? Chair? Diligent attendee?
- Where are these meetings? Do I dial in every time? Do I need to travel to them occasionally?
This gets you a feel for what your boss expects you to be doing. So what to do with this information
- Put these meetings into your diary (duh!)
- Decide what time you need to put into your diary that is COMPULSORY to support them. Do you have to travel to the meeting? Maybe you only travel once a quarter? So put this time into your diary.
- Do you need to prepare for this meeting? Writing reports? Reviewing decks? Put this time into your diary?
- Do you need to do something after this meeting? Write up actions or minutes? Put this time into your diary.
For a gold star you could (and should) ask your Boss to brief you about these meetings e.g. Where are we? What are the major issues? How well are these meetings working?
You're not done yet.
Now you need to speak to yourself. What are the MUST DO's you have to put into your diary to manage your personal productive?
For me this might be:
- Weekly project review
- Expenses *
- Team meetings with my direct reports
- Performance meetings with my direct reports
- Catch up meetings with key SMEs (Networking / relationship meetings)
Again same questions about the additional commitments of pre and post meeting time.
That's your hard landscape. Scary isn't it.
You're STILL not done yet.
You need to review it. Really REALLY explore it:
- Is that really a true reflection of what you have to do? Cut things that are faff. Add things you've forgotten
- Is there enough time to actually do real work?!? If not - what can you do? Cut things? Plead with your new Boss? Delegate?
- Ummm. How are you dealing with lunch? (You forgot to put that on there didn't you)
Now you're done.
Congratulations. Now USE it.
- Wake up - look at your diary.
- Get into work - look at your diary.
- People ask you to do something - look at your diary.
Putting the effort into setting your diary up gives you control. Starting a new job is the perfect opportunity to do it
* [Sigh] If it's not in my diary I don't do it - No matter how good I am at other GTD practices so it has to be an hour in my diary once a week. I still hate doing it but now I have a chance of actually filing some expenses