Add These 10 Things to Your Calendar and Crush Your Year & To Do List
These are the activities I purposefully plan for so I can live my best life. And you can too.
Simply put: I live and die by my calendar, and I’m not afraid to say it.
How about you?
As an added bonus, I’m getting better about crushing my To Do List once I actually put “the To-Do” on my calendar. It’s a little thing, but it works for me.
It’s also part of this whole “Monday Hour One” ‘taskmaster planning and maximizing ones time and calendar/life’ thing, that I recently learned about from The Life School, in their Self Coaching Scholars program that I'm currently enrolled in. It's a time management technique where you use the first hour every Monday to plan out your schedule and time, and get rid of your to do list; and this Type-A, Enneagram 3, calendar lover, LOVES it.
Sidebar: if you're interested in more details on the "Monday Hour One" mentality and execution, check out these resources to get you started:
The Life Coach School Podcast: Episode #306: Monday Hour One
Here's a nice detailed overview of how to actually execute it, from Tiffany Goyer
For a brief overview of the Monday Hour One course and signup details click here, but if you're enrolled in the monthly Self Coaching Scholars membership like I am, it's included with your access.
Process highlights that really stuck for me:
Use a Digital Calendar. I use Google calendar.
Block out Personal Time first. Think: appointments, transit times, kids activities, sleep, fitness, meals, work window, rest and downtime, etc... All the stuff that's a given or that you are prioritizing (I also hold time slots for self care and virtual coffee/lunch dates).
Schedule a 2-hour block for Focus Time, every day. This is your most productive/focused time to do and accomplish big things—the kind of things that require the part of your brain that carries out executive functions (aka your prefrontal cortex, which helps people set and achieve goals). I use this time for completing major work/personal projects, for writing, and creating something with an end-product or deliverable at the end of my window in mind.
To Dos. Schedule the things you want to accomplish or need to do in you calendar, and decide what time block you're going to do the thing you set out to do, and stick to it. Think: errands, phone calls, actions required to help you complete the big accomplishment (ex. research hotels in Western Mass for vacation, pick up birthday party items at Target etc...).
"Friday Hour Done". At the end of the week, you do a look-back audit, and review what worked/didn't and capture what you need to think about and schedule for the next planning session and Monday Hour One; Self Coaching Scholars called this Friday Hour Done. I found this to be essential, because life happens, and then you don't forget anything and have an opportunity to adjust and pivot and plan ahead as needed.
Capture new To Do List items throughout the week. When new "to dos" and things pop up throughout the week and your life, add them to a running To Do List (I use the notepad in my iPhone), so you can reference them when you plan your next week, and get then out of your head and not forget them.
I've found that the key to success with this process is five-fold:
Don't break the commitments you make to yourself. Example: If you are going to wake up at 5 AM to work out, you don't hit snooze; if you decide you're going to do X in a certain time window, that's all you get (this is the hardest part for me, as a recovering perfectionist).
Create and own the calendar/schedule that works for you. Example: If your "Monday Hour One" needs to be on Sunday, adjust it.
If you have a separate work calendar, figure out how to make this work for both. Example: When I start my new job, I know my Focus Time is going to shift a bit because I'll have big things I want to accomplish at my job and in my personal life.
Be purposeful with your time and priorities. Creating your best life requires you to be purposeful with your time and it's NOT only about productivity; this means you also need to plan in do-nothing time, entertainment time, hobby time, and time that allows you to reset.
Respect the seasons of life you're in. Don't let your ambitions get in the way of living your life and being realistic with what you want and need to do. (As an Enneagram 3, I find myself having to constantly remind myself of this mindset).
It takes practice but I truly believe anyone can do it, and it's been unbelievably helpful in freeing up my mind, and helping me accomplish big things with the time we have, even despite the madness that often ensues in #MomLife & Working Mom Life.
At the beginning of every year I also do some calendar auditing on what worked and what didn’t in the previous year, and then I ask myself where I want to spend my time. And in that same exercise…which has honestly taken me two weeks this year because of all the things I’ve had going on…I carve out time on my calendar for things that are really important to me.
Here are 10 things that I purposefully plan for that help me live my best life that might help you too:
1:1s with inspiring people who you want to learn more about, or who have skills that interest you or happen to be in jobs and industries that you want to learn more about. I love networking, or as I liked to call it relationship building—I know this isn't always the most popular opinion, but growing your professional network is super important and fulfilling, and it is a skill that takes practice. I think people are absolutely fascinating and I love to learn more about them and make new friends; I recommend trying to adopt this mentality if you're someone who hears "networking" and would rather do your taxes. I spent so much time networking this past year, as I was trying to land my dream job after getting laid off (which I did! wahoo!), and one of my favorite parts of the experience was getting the opportunity to connect with and learn from so many incredible people. I definitely want more of that this year, so I've set a goal to schedule at least one 1:1 a month. Remember, networking is a 2-way street, and with every interaction you have, you should think of a way you too can help the person across the table or his/her network (Spoiler alert: you have a lot to offer, even if it's as simple as offering to be a sounding board for someone else at the end of the chat and offer to help with his/her network).
Time for a hobby. Having an outlet that's creative, brings you joy and something that's all about you, is an excellent use of time. For me, I'm focusing on reading more (one book a month is my goal!) and learning more about Champagne.
A Mental Health Day, every month. Sometimes I take the full day, and sometimes I take a half day, but it’s in there! We all need these. Self care is life giving.
Lunch Dates & Coffee Dates. Carve out time to nurture and grow your relationships. Right now my dates are are virtual, but I have a standing meeting every Friday. I also often use this time to be spontaneous phone a friend I haven't talked to in a while.
Quarterly 2-hour check-ins. I schedule a time block out for the whole year every quarter so that I can revisit goals and intentions and readjust as needed. If there's one thing we learned last year, it's that the unpredictable can and will happen, and it's always a good idea to give yourself time revisit your road map and destination and to make a new plan if you don't like the direction you're going.
Time to update my resume (yes, every year!), and LinkedIn profile & personal branding statement as needed. This stuff can become outdated quickly, and it's harder to update if you're not staying on top of it. Plus, we should always have our marketing collateral ready for career discussions and dream opportunities. Pro Tip: if your LinkedIn profile picture is more than two years old, it is likely time for a Personal Branding Shoot and new head shots.
Daily time to learn about your industry and the latest trends. Not only does this make you more aware of what's going on in the world, but it gives you context and knowledge on subject matter that will help you be conversationally relevant and appear more expert and on the ball in any and all meetings and discussions with everyone you interact with in your work day. I carve out 15-30 minutes/day on my work calendar. I also carve out time daily on my work calendar to read about my company or specific slice of work I'm doing.
Conferences & workshops. Pencil those in now! How do you want to develop yourself this year? It's great to have these things dialed in from the beginning so that you can also include them in your professional development discussions with your manager.
Time to practice skills and develop personally and professionally. If you don't take charge of your development no one will, and it won't happen. What things do you want to learn to be a better manager or leader, or happier and more whole human? I'm intent on growing my mentoring and leadership skills this year, and I want to be a better writer. I'm also working on my voice over acting skills. And I know I will grow in these areas, because I consistently plan time on my calendar to work on these things. How about you?
Time to date my spouse! In years past (when we were drowning, I mean exhausted with newborn and little baby twin boys), our relationship took a backseat (hey, we were trying to survive!). My husband and I have come to realize that we have to be better about making time for each other because like everything else we're trying to fit into our packed lives, our relationship matters and needs to be prioritized, and so we set up a weekly date night. This is something we both look forward to every week. Some nights it's just a take out dinner or throwing on a MasterClass, and others we actually send the kids to nana and papas (which is gold).
Curious: Do you do any of these?! What do you pencil in, with permanent ink, on your calendar?
Remember: If you don’t plan for it, other people and prioritize will inevitably highjack your calendar and time. And boss ladies don’t have time for that!