Or maybe I was.
Let’s just say I overheard an intriguing conversation after a networking lunch recently.
Person One: Do you have time to do blah, blah, blah? The meeting is on Thursday at 3:00.
Person Two: Well, I don’t know. I’ll have to ask Calendar. Calendar is sometimes mean to me. Calendar won’t let me say yes until I look at Calendar. Calendar is strict. Once I have a talk with Calendar, I’ll let you know.
Person One: oooookay…
Person Two in this conversation was my former client (and current friend), Allyson Harvin. I don’t remember who Person One was. But, we all have our Person Ones, right?
Allyson is the co-owner of two ServPro franchises in the Savannah, Georgia area. She is a leader in the community and a champion for small businesses. A lifelong learner, Allyson is a voracious reader of business books. She does a lot of things and does them with great humor.
Two years ago, Allyson asked me to help her be more efficient in how she managed her time, tasks, and information.
At the time, Allyson used a paper calendar that she loved as if it were her Great Aunt Edna. She chose her yearly calendar with great ceremony. It needed to have just the right pattern, inspirational sayings, colors, and tactile feel. Allyson’s calendar was a beloved friend.
Until she realized that it was more like a frenemy.
Her paper calendar remained comfortably on her desk as Allyson scurried from one meeting to another. The calendar stayed snug and warm in her darkened office while she was wide-eyed awake in bed thinking about appointments to add to it the next day.
One obvious remedy was to carry her calendar with her everywhere she went. However, as I have written in a prior post, this solution has drawbacks.
Allyson realized that if a calendar was supposed to help her, it needed to be everywhere that she was and be accessible to her team. Outlook Calendar met those needs. So, she switched.
But, that was two years ago. The interesting part is how she thinks about her calendar today.
After I…um…overheard Allyson’s conversation with Person One, I asked to interview her for my #ProductivitySuperheroes series.
Why? Because I am a psychologist, and I had just witnessed a brilliant woman personify an inanimate object and give it the uncreative name of “Calendar.”
There was a story here. I just knew it.
- I see my calendar as an entity that is apart from me.
- Sometimes I am the boss. Sometimes Calendar is the boss.
- I respect Calendar’s role in creating the bandwidth to do the things I hold dear.
- Calendar shows me when there is a lack of balance in my life and inspires me to make improvements.
- Calendar has significantly decreased the level of anxiety in my life.
- If I am going to defer to Calendar, then there should be some perks. I should be able to make Calendar be the bad guy.
- Calendar reduces my discomfort with saying “no.”
To be fair, Allyson told me that the first time she had named her calendar, Calendar, was in the conversation with Person One. Knowing Allyson like I do, I suspect she might have come up with something more interesting, like Esmerelda or Wilhelmina, if she’d thought more about it.
But, here’s the point: in the conversation with Person One, Allyson let her calendar be the bad guy.
I didn’t eavesdrop long enough to hear how the discussion ended, but Allyson successfully engaged her calendar in the battle for her time.
And this is important, because my clients hear me say…
Your calendar is the shield with which you defend your balanced life.
So, what can you do to maximize your calendar? Here are some best practices that Allyson uses:
- Keep one calendar. Put everything on it. You are one person, not two (or three).
- Understand that your calendar is half of the story. Your task list is the other.
- Protect the openings on your calendar. Just because you are available, you must still say “no” appropriately.
I saw a meme recently that redefined the word no as “next opportunity.”
I think I’ll take this opportunity to name my calendar…River. River Song.
Are you ready to feel balanced and effective at work and in life?
Read my eBook Love Your Calendar…and be monogamous.
Dr. Melissa Gratias (pronounced "Gracious") is a work psychologist who helps overwhelmed and underappreciated businesspeople be more focused and effective. Since 2007, thousands of people have graduated with honors from her onsite sessions, distance coaching, productivity seminars, and corporate consulting projects. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Melissa is available for nationwide consulting and speaking engagements. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-417-2505. Sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter or visit her website, melissagratias.com.