Many of us utilize our daily planners to organize meetings and appointments. Yet, how can we leverage our calendars to not only remind us of future events, but keep us mindful of personal productivity?
Robby Slaughter, founder and principal of AccelaWork, shared his expertise on calendars while as a guest on the marketing podcast More Than A Few Words. During the short interview, Slaughter highlights several of his own personal strategies when it comes to creating a manageable and productive schedule at work. Below are some of his tips:
- Make appointments for projects. “If any project takes more than 15 minutes, shouldn’t there be time reserved in your calendar for the project?”
- Follow your instincts when scheduling time for projects. “What you put in your calendar indicates what you think is important when you put on your calendar. So if you’re going to have a task on your calendar and you think ‘maybe I shouldn’t do this now’ . . . respect your gut.”
- Look at your calendar at the end of the day. “Productivity isn’t just about what you get done , it’s also about how you feel about what you get done . . . I use my calendar as a reflection of where my time went.”
For your convenience, the embedded four minute podcast is below:
We’ve talked about many of the things Slaughter touched on before on this blog, but one part that especially stands out is the benefit of looking at your calendar at the end of a day. Many people merely use a calendar to schedule, but you can also learn a lot from looking at what you did and noting how you feel about how things went. A good comparison is to a running log. Most competitive runners keep a detailed log, not only with what they plan on doing in the future, but with notes to reflect on how each day went. From those notes, they can then adjust for the future.
Bennett Cohen, a running coach, published an article on the benefits of keeping a running log. For your convenience, we’ve pulled a few sections that can also apply to the workplace.
4. Improves Your Personal Training Program
After completing a race, analyzing your log to evaluate your training will yield clues about how your body reacted to the different elements of your training program. This will give you useful information that you can implement to train smarter for your next event. I trained seriously for a half-marathon two years ago. When I reviewed my running log post-race, I noticed that my hamstrings and hips were very sore for days following long or fast runs on routes with significant downhill portions. I concluded that I needed to increase my leg and glute strength in order to better withstand downhill running, train more effectively and race faster.
5. Prevents Illness and Burnout
Like the canary in the mineshaft, a running log can provide an early warning sign of impending danger — illness, staleness or burnout – before the physical symptoms manifest themselves. For me, three consecutive runs that I assign a rating in my log of 4 (out of 10) or less is a surefire signal that I’m fighting an infection or suffering excessive fatigue. By taking 3-4 days off from running, I give myself a chance to recuperate, thus warding off a more serious malady that would entail a long layoff.
6. Prevents Injuries
Careful review of your log after an injury often yields important clues as to what precipitated the injury. Was it a sudden increase in training? A change to a different type of terrain? Too many miles on your shoes to the point where they stopped providing adequate stability or shock absorption? Determining the tipping point will guide you to train more wisely.
7. Facilitates Trend Analysis — Seeing the Forest From the Trees
Reviewing your logs over a period of several months will provide valuable information about you and your running that would not be otherwise evident. For example, during a six month training period several years ago, I noticed that I took time off from running on five separate occasions because I felt I was catching a cold. Upon further inspection, I noticed that the “icky” feeling always occurred on a Tuesday that followed a long hard run. By making sure that I got adequate sleep on Sundays and Mondays, paying special attention to post-run nutrition and bolstering my immune system through Vitamin C and Echinacea supplementation, I was able to reduce my time off in future training.
Look at the way Bennett uses his calendar to help him learn the best ways to be as productive with his training in the future. The same can apply to your time in the workplace! Find the times you’re most motivated, avoid productivity disaster, and analyze other trends. All with the simple help of your daily planner.