Stop Calendar Abuse

Published: Monday, November 9, 2015

Look's like a busy month in 1978. original file at

Let’s start by saying I dislike calendars. They are reminders of all the work that I “think” I have to do. Until recently. In the past I have been fighting the battle of appointment Monday, where I start the week with a clean slate and by the end of the day on Monday, I have a calendar 80% full of meetings that I don’t want to attend. Oh and when I say a clean slate, I am not including the “recurring” meetings. What makes matters worse is that I didn’t set up time on my calendar to prioritize time I need to the most important items. So that usually slips till evening or early mornings to see where I can wedge time into my schedule.

Off and on in the past few years, I have tried all sorts of methods to take back control of my calendar. I didn’t have much luck as the more I tried to control my calendar, it created a burden for me. I would try to schedule every minute of every day and account for every item. I focused on trying to block off time, but would then let people still schedule meetings over top and I would sacrifice my time for theirs.

Today my calendar gymnastics have greatly improved. Here are some of the key things that I did and some that I will be doing to continue to get better.

Put your most important items on the calendar first

For me, this is my family. I must confess, date nights are very rare with my wife. Why? Because I haven’t put them on the calendar. For me this means stop whatever I am doing when I need to get an important item on the calendar. How often do your children, wife, or those closest to you tell you about some event they would like you to part of? Do you put it in your calendar right away. I usually say to myself, I will get that later today, only to forget by the time I get to the office.

Learn how to say no to a meeting effectively

Look at your calendar today. Pick any request from someone else. Say no to the meeting if:

  • The meeting does not have an agenda.
  • You are optional. Request meeting notes from the person that scheduled the meeting.
  • Are there other people in the meeting that can represent you? If so, delegate on.
  • No double booking. If a meeting request comes in that conflicts with one on your calendar, deal with it immediately. Honor the meeting you have already booked. If you feel that it is more important, you will need to reschedule one or the other meeting.

Plan more than 1 week out

I don’t have a specific timeframe as each person will be different. However, I am starting to plan my time locked in my calendar at least 1 quarter out. There is a great thought process that every 90 days you should have a personal offsite to get focused on your goals. What better time to get your calendar into alignment. Michael Hyatt has a great podcast and excel spreadsheet where he looks out a whole year in advance and puts a value on his time so that he can prioritize properly.

Like anything else, your calendar is just a tool to use. How you use it is important. I am working not to fight the tool but rather use it for the purpose it was intended.   How are you using your calendar effectively?