Is it really a new year if you’re still using the same stale calendar?
Many of us have operational excellence as a resolution. At the heart of those efforts is how we manage and value our time. That said, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin. One of the quickest wins is to streamline your calendar to evaluate how you spend your time.
And who doesn’t want to start their year off with a win? 🏆
Valuing time through your calendar
By consolidating, weeding, and synchronizing leader and executive calendars, you truthfully reflect organizational bandwidth, priorities, and goals. Changing when and how you meet is a highly visible and deliberate way of promoting a culture of operational excellence that centers and values your and your team’s most precious resource — time. ⏰
What happens when you value time through calendar optimization? Our team at Sparklos has dedicated days for both customer and team meetings, which allow us to build sacred working time into our calendars each week. The benefits? More energizing meetings, higher morale, and stronger productivity to name a few.
That said, it’s completely natural for a team calendar to become cluttered over time. Whether you manage your own calendar, or you have a Chief of Staff or Executive Assistant on hand to tackle that, use the steps below to start getting a handle of your and your team’s time.
Where your time gets spent
Fewer and clearer meetings means better focus on what really matters. When you require that every invite has an outcome, your team eliminates unnecessary, unplanned, or redundant meetings, allowing everyone to use their time more efficiently. You also reduce meeting fatigue, which can lead to burnout and decreased morale.
Start analyzing your or your leader’s calendar by reviewing every recurring invite on their schedule to determine need and value. Yes, we mean every recurring invite. 😅
This may seem like a difficult task. We promise it’s not! Use the nifty chart below to help drive some of those initial decisions. Once you make the first few judgements, it’ll start to come more naturally. When you start thinking about time as a scarce resource, you’ll find the decisions often make themselves.
Where your team is spending their time
If you start this exercise and are unsure what should be changed, go interview your LT. We can say from experience that your LT will always have an opinion about what the calendar should look like.
They’re a great source of knowledge about what is a valuable use of time, what gaps exist, and what can be removed. They’ll also have a pulse on what will land with the team and what some of the widespread pain points are.
In our work, we’ve seen some incredible suggestions come out of quick 5 minute interviews conducted during one of your regular 1:1s with LT. And when it came time to test or implement some of those suggestions, the LT became fierce advocates for the changes. 📣
Get time back where you can
Determine which meetings should be removed, reassigned, or consolidated.
- For leader’s meetings: This step could mean deleting invites or assigning ownership to a member of your LT moving forward. The key is to ensure that every meeting is high-value with a clear objective.
- For team meetings: This step could introduce a sacred review cadence to ensure all recurring team meetings are streamlined, predictable, and valuable. For example, we’ve seen this step be a driver towards rigorous, high-value monthly business reviews.
Additionally, you should determine which meetings can be converted into a team communication or asynchronous task. The more time you can claim back for yourself and for you team by removing meetings that don’t require synchronous bandwidth, the better your team will feel when it’s actually time to meet. 📅
Build in time for the unpredictable
Make sure there is space for the inevitable ad hoc requests. This could be the monthly business reviews we mentioned earlier. It could also be a sacred weekly review that empowers teammates to sign up for short slots that ensure they get facetime with their org leader.
We saw this in a recent project — our leader was bogged down by ad hoc meetings. Each was about 30 minute long and centered one topic. She wanted to spend this time with her team — the topics were important, but it felt like she had no control over her own schedule.
These ad hoc meetings were landing on her calendar because there was nowhere else for them to go. By implementing a sacred end-of-week review, our leader took back agency, while her team now had a predictable place to dock requests, reviews, project updates, etc. 🤝
In this example, through core internal rhythms alone, optimization efforts saved the leader 6 meeting hours monthly and streamlined 14 scattered, ad hoc meetings into 4 efficient review meetings. ✅
Time to focus on what matters
Finally, make sure every recurring meeting now has a stated objective and accessible agenda. Depending on your organization, these may live directly on the calendar invite, or could link to an internal wiki. Use this as a mechanism to drive high-priority business goals and initiatives.
The world of operational excellence is wide and daunting — start with this straightforward exercise to kick off your journey on the right foot. If you’re the org leader, delegate this exercise to someone on your team who’s able to drive the process after an initial cleanup meeting with you. This could be an EA or PM, or someone with a passion for operations.
By carefully organizing your calendar, you ensure that each meeting serves a specific purpose & contributes to the overall goals of your organization. Said another way, by streamlining your calendar, you demonstrate to your org that you value the most precious (and often, scarce) resource — time.💥
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash