“I cannot do my work, respond to emails and make my calls, because I am in meetings or on conference calls all day.”  I hear comments similar to this frequently.  Meetings, business reviews, and conference calls take up the majority of my clients’ days.  In companies where calendars are shared and meetings can be added to your schedule by others, it is easy for your entire day to be scheduled for you.  There is one simple solution to conquer this problem:

Take Control of Your Calendar

You can get into the practice of scheduling “work time” by blocking out time on your own calendar to process email, make your phone calls, analyze reports, etc.  Once the time is blocked out on your calendar, you have control over how you spend that block of time.  If your scheduled “work block” of time must be moved due to some other important meeting, be sure you actually move it and do not schedule over it.

How much time should you block out for your tasks and emails? 

The answer to this question can be a little challenging.  The amount of time you block out depends on your job role and job requirements.  For some workers, meetings should make up a large portion of their days because they are strategizing and communicating with different departments, customers or vendors.  Other positions may require only a small amount of time in meetings, and more time doing their hands on job related tasks.
Take Control of Your Calendar How much time to block out also depends on the type of tasks you need to schedule. For example, you can probably estimate how long it takes to you to compile your weekly report for your boss.  However, it may be more difficult to estimate how long it takes to respond to your emails on a daily basis.  If you struggle with how long to block out for any given task or tasks, estimate the time it would take and then time yourself actually doing the task the next 3 times.  Average the 3 actual times it took to complete the task.  Use this average as your time block.

As you get into the habit of scheduling time to do your work, you may find you need to make adjustments to your work time blocks.  These work time blocks will make easier to say no to the unnecessary.  Your stress level and anxiety will decrease when people make additional requests of your time, because you know you have control over your schedule.

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