Don’t Burn Your Calendar at Both Ends

Posted 07.21.2014

burningagendaPerhaps you think I meant to use the word candle rather than calendar in the title of this post. Nope, calendar was what I meant but the idea came from a brain blip I had recently.

I was conducting interviews with about a dozen colleagues and friends of a new executive coaching client. One of my questions was, “What do you hope he gets out of this coaching engagement?” and someone answered, “I hope he’ll quit burning the candle at both ends.” When I went back to review my conversation notes to write the report, I saw that what I had actually written down was, “I hope he’ll quit burning the calendar at both ends.”

I laughed at my mistake and thought that there’s actually something to that. So many people today are burning the calendar at both ends. I see so many people who are trying to cram way more stuff than they can possibly fit into the 168 hours that each of us are given each week. In the category of true confessions, I’m sometimes one of those people myself.

But, based on personal experience, the best practices of my clients and what I learned writing my forthcoming book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative, here are three sure-fire methods to keep you from burning your calendar at both ends. (Please share your own sure fire methods in the comments.)

Plan for the Predictable: There are some things you have to do on a routine basis daily, weekly and monthly. Get real with yourself about how much time those predictable tasks take and plan for them. Block time for the predictable.

Ramp Up and Ramp Down: One client I’m working with right now is having great success with an approach that my wife and business partner, Diane, got me started on this year. Whenever possible, we’re leaving Monday morning open for me so I can use it as a “ramp up” time for my week. That means no meetings or phone calls. I get into the office at the usual time in the morning but I use the morning to plan, write or work on a project that needs some focused attention. The “ramp down” time comes on Friday afternoon. Again, no meetings or phone calls then. It’s an opportunity to review commitments made during the week or tie up loose ends that are hanging around. All of that is a set up for a…

Work-free Weekend Day: By leaving time Monday mornings and Friday afternoons open, I have space to totally unplug for at least one day each weekend. Knowing that I don’t have to dive into a racked and stacked calendar on Monday morning gives me space to totally rest and renew on at least one weekend day and not worry about playing catch-up or get-ahead.

There you go – three ways to keep from burning your calendar at both ends. What’s been working for you that the rest of us need to know about?