If you ever feel that your work calendar needs a detox, it may be due for a deep clean.
A Calendar Cleanse is an audit covering every minute of the day. The idea is to systematically examine how and when items are placed on our schedules to create more openings.
Over the last three years meetings have been on the rise with, “the average Teams user seeing a 252% increase,” according to Microsoft. Often these meetings are mandatory and are set outside of our control. Work calendars lacking boundaries often bleed into our personal lives and can cause chronic stress.
The Mayo Clinic says that “it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with your life stressors” as the long-term effects of chronic stress can include “anxiety, weight gain, and impaired memory.”
A quick agenda cleanse targeting unnecessary items combats stress for benefits beyond the relief of availability on the horizon.
How To Cleanse Your Calendar
Find a place free of distraction to begin dissecting your schedule. For those wondering if a Calendar Cleanse is akin to the KonMari Method rest assured that you will be cleaning, not tidying your calendar.
Marie Kondo explained the difference to Amy Shoenthal of Forbes by saying, “Tidying and cleaning are completely different: Tidying is the act of confronting yourself – cleaning is the act of confronting dirt.”
Let the dirt-busting begin.
Cancel If You Cannot Commit
Streamlining a full year can be daunting so consider cleansing your calendar in two-week increments. This allows for immediate implementation and aligns with short-term goal setting.
The key to detoxing your calendar starts with commitment. If a task or meeting is not mandatory ask: Am I dedicated to this?
When incoming freshmen are implementing effective time management Princeton University recommends that, “If you can’t commit to devoting time to a task, don’t put it in your schedule. Only schedule tasks you will do.”
Shift Your Tough Tasks To The Morning
A long-term study of executives (made famous by bestselling author Daniel Pink) found afternoons, specifically 2:55 p.m., are the worst time to make decisions. More favorable outcomes for important meetings like performance reviews and sales calls tend to happen in the morning.
According to Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing avoid the sleepy hours of the afternoon. “Test scores go down, there’s a rise in medical errors and a decline in hand-washing, and there are more car accidents between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. than almost any other time of the day.”
A word of caution on timing, steer clear of the window just before lunch. A study by Ben Gurion University in Israel and Columbia University found that parole violators received harsher sentences when judges were hungry.
Focus on Time vs. Tasks
It is a challenge to anticipate how long tasks will take. Scheduling your day according to time chunks rather than task focus may increase efficiency.
To organize time consider using Productivity Sheets by Intelligent Change, the creators of The Five Minute Journal. The daily sheets are based on the Focus Time Technique. The Technique targets 30-minute work sessions followed by a brief recovery for unavoidable distractions with a re-start on the next session.
Creating the habit of regular calendar editing keeps priorities in perspective. The intent of a cleanse is to jumpstart a process of improvement by getting rid of toxic and unhealthy things. Proactively cleansing our calendars gives us a better chance of not being bound down by them.
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