The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

206: Three Tips to Mastering Time Management

December 07, 2023 John Neral Season 3
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
206: Three Tips to Mastering Time Management
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine regaining control of your time, finding the equilibrium between work and life simultaneously without the hassle. I guarantee that by the end of this episode, you'll have the tools to achieve just that! You'll learn how to safeguard your precious time during the festive whirlwind and carry that expertise into the year ahead. I'll share my personal journey and how I discovered the often-overlooked importance of playtime and rest, which, spoiler alert, isn't just for kids. Trust me, calendar blocking isn't as tedious as it sounds, but rather a lifesaver for scheduling tasks, meetings, and even some time off for yourself.

Ever felt swamped on a Friday afternoon with meetings that could have been emails? We've all been there. I'll let you in on why you should steer clear of Friday meetings and how to reserve half an hour on your calendar for strategic thinking. Remember, your time is a fortress that needs to be defended relentlessly. It's the cornerstone for your creativity, effectiveness, and strategic thought process. Let me remind you, how we show up alters the course of our journey, and building your mid-career GPS is an ongoing adventure. So, let's start taking command of our time, together!

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Speaker 1:

During the holidays, it seems as if the time we have to get things done shrinks. In fact, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed, trying to get everything you need to do and want to do done. For example, I'm trying to figure out when I'm going to get all those Christmas cookies baked and given before the 25th. Yep, I got a plan for that, but it's going to be tight. Basically, this is all about how we get to protect our time. The keyword is that we get to do this. So in this episode, I will share with you three tips that will help you protect your time during this holiday season and how you can take this skill and bring it with you into 2024 so you have more balance and clarity as you build your mid-career GPS. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is episode 206 of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. I'm your host, john Narrell. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four step formula. Normally, I bring you an interview on Thursdays, but we had a few schedule changes and there's a lot of stuff going around. So you've got me today and I'm going to talk with you about how we get to protect our time. This can be a difficult topic to grasp for some, and I will share with you that it's been particularly difficult in the beginning for me to get my head around this, both in my career and in my business, but once I did, things absolutely changed. Now in my business, it's important to acknowledge that if I don't have clients or I'm not selling a product, I don't get paid. This is how I make my livelihood and this is my business. So protecting time is important, but it's also one of those things that can feel like it can easily get away and be given away, and this is where I want you to make the parallel. Where are you giving away your time that you absolutely feel like you need, but somehow find yourself sacrificing? See, as heart centered leaders and professionals, the default is you're going to put everybody else first, and that's a great quality to have to an extent, because when it starts to become a time suck or an energy drain, you then find that the work you need to get done gets pushed off because you're always taking care of everybody else. So when you think about your work day, I want you to go back for a minute and think about when you were a kid. See, when we were kids, we didn't have all the responsibilities we have now. Yeah, we probably had some, but we certainly didn't have the bills and the jobs and the pressures and everything that happens for us at mid-career and after. But as a kid, we found time to play and we also found time to rest and recharge. How did we do that? And it might have felt like we were winging it. I want to offer you that we didn't. In fact, it was a very intentional and planned decision. Unless our parents told us to go ahead and do it, which then we recognized, there were probably consequences if we didn't go to bed when they told us to. But the idea behind this is that, with intentionality, we made time for those things. And when you were in school and you started getting more homework, I want you to think about how you got your homework done, or that dreaded term paper you had to write when you were in college. You found a way to determine where that time needed to go on your calendar in order to protect your time and make that happen. It may not have felt structured. You may have been one of those people where it was like, hey, I just worked better at the last minute, I'm just gonna block off the last 24 hours and get the term paper done. I did that, but you will find a way. Now I realized when I did that it really wasn't my best work and I had to kind of plan some things out. So we modify, we refine In your work calendar. Where are you making time for yourself, for example? Where do you have time for strategy? Where do you have time for meeting with colleagues, doing your networking, supporting your team? How much are you in control of your calendar, versus letting your calendar control you? Who has access to your calendar and they're putting time on it because you're allowing them to Now, yes, there are some people in your work life where you're absolutely going to give that opportunity to, but is that for everybody? Where are you protecting your time? So, if you can remember how you have made time in the past to get things done, the second thing I wanna offer you today is a strategy known as calendar blocking. In calendar blocking, you are allocating certain time in your calendar each week, month or quarter specifically for those things that are important to you. So if you're managing a team. If you have direct reports, more than likely you have a standing check-in meeting with those people on your team. You protect that time on your calendar, meaning that that meeting gets priority over other things. And if the president of the company needs to talk to you or there's an important meeting or event that you need to be at, you will reschedule that time with your direct report or team member, because that's important and, yes, it's the right thing to do. I had worked in an organization where this was a particular hurdle for people on the team to it, not even master, it was just for them to do. They felt like they couldn't and everybody's calendars were out of control and I would ask people on the team. I'd say to them hey, where on your calendar have you blocked off for hours to do your writing or your project tasks? And they said, well, I just try to fit it in. Uh-uh, we're not doing that anymore. I'm gonna take out the calendar, we're gonna block that time off and you are getting permission from me to hold that time with fidelity unless these things happen. And we had, as a team, set up specific criteria for when we would allow our protected time to get used, with an exchange to put it back on the calendar somewhere else. For example, I had people on my team where they would block off one to three PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays for their creative time, their writing time, and sometimes the team would have to have meetings during that time and so they would have to reschedule their meeting time because as a team, we needed to meet In calendar blocking. The goal here is that you are protecting the time. That is important. It doesn't mean that you're looking at your calendar and you're blocking off every single hour of your week and nobody can ever put a meeting on it. That's not the point. The point here is that you are protecting time for you to get certain tasks done, and you need to figure out if you're a morning person, a midday person or an afternoon person where that think time or strategy time for you needs to come into play. What I wanna offer you as a suggestion is this I want you to look at your calendar and I want you to put 30 minutes on your calendar this week and call it strategy time. Whether that is for something you particularly need to get done in relation to something you're leading like a project, maybe it's time you allocate for strategy around professional development for your team, or it's 30 minutes of strategy time for your professional development and growth. But I want you to start with 30 minutes. 30 minutes is a manageable block. If you give yourself 25 minutes and 5 minutes to go to the restroom, that works just fine as well, and, as a former teacher, we couldn't schedule those times because you just can't leave your classroom willy-nilly when you have to go to the bathroom. So you kind of plan those accordingly. You get the idea, but the thing here is what gets scheduled gets done. So how do you want, from this point forward, to be? Do you want to be in control of your calendar or do you want the calendar to control you? Hey, there, we'll get back to the episode in a moment. But I want to give you something game-changing, a golden ticket. That is like having a roadmap to take you from career confusion to clarity in minutes, introducing the mid-career jobseekers checklist. It is your secret weapon in your job search, and if you feel like navigating your job search right now is like navigating a maze blindfolded, don't worry, my friend, I got your back. This checklist is a powerhouse of organization and preparation, crafted to make you say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed and hello to a career transition made easy. I want you to head on over to johnnarrellcom to snag your free copy of the mid-career jobseekers checklist. It's not just a checklist, it is a career compass to help you find that job you're going to love. Now let's dive back into the episode. Well, with that idea of does the calendar control me or do I get to control my calendar, I want to share with you something I did at the beginning of this year that was a game changer for me in terms of protecting my time. In the example I'm going to give you, keep in mind I work for myself. I'm a sole business owner. It is me myself and I and this was still difficult for me to do. So what I instituted was no Friday meetings, no Friday meetings, no Friday client sessions, and I was inspired by working with a few clients who shared with me that their companies had instituted this practice but that occasionally, not everybody adhered to it. I thought, wow, what would it look like for me in my business if I gave myself Friday as my day? Business development strategy, podcast work, writing, project development proposals, whatever those things were. I had an uninterrupted day on Friday to do that and I did, and the results have been nothing short of incredible. So the first thing is it gave me a definitive structure in my week that I knew, come hell or high water on Friday, friday was my day. Secondly, I had the time and, more importantly, the uninterrupted time, to realize that was time for me to work on things that were important for me and my business. So when I've done workshops with companies or I've had presentations sometimes Fridays, those are the days they get done. Now you might be sitting there going, yeah, john, that's great and that's all well into how do I do that in my job. Well, again, this comes back to what's your company culture? And if your company has set up no Friday meetings, what I want to challenge you here is how does that get enforced? Because there may be some criteria or parameters in play where that gets broken. And if it gets broken and you do have a meeting, come up on a Friday, I want you to be really intentional about why you have it. So I wasn't perfect with that this year. There were times when I did have a meeting or two on a Friday, but it was by choice, typically with some of my health issues this year, when I had my eye surgery back in October, I scheduled some meetings on Fridays because I was playing catch up and I had been off for almost a month. That was fine, that was intentional, that was my choice, it was a one off. But when I have consults with clients who are interested in hiring me as a coach and they'll say, oh, I have time on Friday, one of the first things I will say to them is that's great. I do not conduct client meetings or sessions on Fridays and they accept that. And if Friday is the only day they can work with me as a coach, I'm not their coach because I'm not going to give up that time that I've allocated for me and my business. I'll work with them and be flexible, monday through Thursday, whatever we need to be, but I'm not giving up my time because that is the ground role, or a ground role that I have for how I show up in my business. So I had such great success with doing this in 2023 that I'm going to continue this practice in 2024. What I'm also going to work on come 2024 is trying to not work so much on the weekends. So as a business owner, especially with a lot of projects and things. I've given a lot of time on the weekends, and that does come at a cost. So I say a cost because it means we don't have as much family time or you're blocking off time to get something done because that's important. Well, that work is done, and so now my goal for 2024 is to say great, no Friday meetings and I'm getting my weekends back. So I'll work four 10-hour days if I need to, or four eight-hour days with clients and project work, and then Friday is my time. Friday is my time to work on business stuff, recharge my battery, whatever I need to do. Where do you get to protect your time? That gives you greater balance, structure and sanity as you move forward. So to recap number one remember how you made time as a kid. You found time to play, you found time to rest, and then we all became adults and that somehow got lost. This holiday season. I want you to take time just to remember what it was like to play and how you were able to fit all that in. You can have and instead of, or meaning you can have both instead of one or the other. Number two block your calendar. Protect time on your calendar, starting with a 30 minute strategy block right now and see how well you're able to hold that time. And look, if somebody calls up or they put a meeting on your calendar and you're like this is the only time we can meet and it's during your strategy time, you are going to move it because that meeting is important and you need to honor that. However, find another 30 minute block. You are honoring the 30 minutes, even if it means you have to be flexible in where it lands. And then, lastly, the tip was you know, look, no Friday meetings. If your company adheres to that as a group, I want to challenge you to really protect that time where there are no Friday meetings. That allows you to be more creative, more strategic and be the leader and mid-career professional that you are called to be. Hope you found this episode helpful. Don't forget to check out my website, johnnarrowcom. I've got a mid-career job seekers checklist for you there. And until next time, my friends, remember this you will build your mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how you show up matters. Make it a great. Rest of your day, protect your time, take care. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple podcast. Visit johnnarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you in your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at Johnnarrow coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.

Protecting Your Time During the Holidays
Maximizing Work-Life Balance and Productivity