This post was originally published as part of The Weekly Read, a newsletter that delivers a fresh take on management and leadership to your inbox, once a week.
As the New Year commences, I find myself thinking a lot about time, specifically how I want to spend it in the months to come. A former colleague had a poster pinned up in their office that said, “You have the same hours in your day as Beyoncé.” Every time I stopped in, this served as an effective reminder that we all have 24 hours in the day, and we all have control over how we use them. And yet, as new initiatives kick off, meeting invites light up our inboxes, and to-do lists lengthen, our time can hardly feel like our own.
In “The Sanctity of Your Calendar,” Julie Zhuo, a product design VP at Facebook, offers some practical tips and tactics to own your calendar. Here are my takeaways:
Schedule large chunks of time on your calendar for deep work
Though she offers this tip primarily for makers, I think the lesson is an important one for managers as well. The fact is that we all have deep work of some type. As a manager, this might be a decision that needs to be vetted or an honest assessment of a team member’s performance. Regardless of the task, carving out time is the first step to giving yourself permission to take the time it requires.
Align your calendar to your top three priorities
Knowing what’s truly important helps us avoid what’s simply urgent. Zhuo takes thirty minutes at the start of every week to write down her priorities for the week, then reviews her calendar to ensure she has the time needed to make them happen.
Evaluate if you’re truly needed at a meeting
I’ll be the first to admit that it feels good to go to meetings. Apart from being in the know, there’s the collegiality of connecting with peers. Yet, we owe it to ourselves and our organizations to be honest about whether we need to be there. Zhuo offers a simple rule of thumb: “You should attend a meeting when: a) you believe your presence will change the outcome in a leveraged manner, or b) you will be much more effective as a result of being there.”
Hope the read helps wrangle your calendar. And if you find Zhuo’s tips helpful, consider checking out her follow up, “What do I do at Work All Day?” in which she audits her calendar to determine how effectively she spends her time.