One of the lessons we’ve learned the hard way in business — and in life — is effective time management, the idea of working less hours for the same result, or maybe even working less hours for a better result. This might sound like fantasy, like it’s not possible, but we’ve found that it is, and today we’ve got one tip that’ll help you work less and do more. For us, our calendar is king. It controls our life probably more than it should, but that’s another blog for another time! So, for us, whipping that calendar into shape and making it behave was our first stop on the road to efficiency.
We heard a really wise person explain that planes use the most fuel and energy when they’re taking off, and the least when they’re in the air and at their cruising altitude. Therefore, it’s not efficient for planes to take off, fly a little bit, and then land right away. It’s much more efficient to take off as few times as possible and stay at their cruising altitude as long as possible, too. When we heard that, a lightbulb went off and we tried to apply that analogy to our business — and our calendar — and here’s what we realized: every time we leave the house for work, whether it’s a meeting or a shoot, that’s like our plane taking off, because we have to spend a lot of time and energy just to get out the door: stopping work, showering, doing hair and makeup, choosing clothes, and so on.
Here was the problem: we weren’t scheduling our calendar intentionally. A client would request a shoot date, and if it was open on the calendar, we’d do it. We’d get invited to lunch, and if our calendar was clear, we’d do it. Pretty soon, some weeks, we’d have just one place we needed to be every single day, which required the entire flight takeoff process we talked about earlier of preparing to get out the door. On its face, committing to one appointment or shoot every day doesn’t seem like much of a commitment at all, but when we were doing that every single day, it added up to 1 hour per day of getting ready time plus the drive time to get to and from the destination. Since everything in Phoenix is about 30 minutes away, that meant 1 hour of drive time for every 1 hour of getting ready time, or 14 total hours per week, and that doesn’t even include the time it would take us to start and stop tasks we were working on in the office.
Something had to change! That’s where stacking meetings came in to play.
When we started intentionally stacking meetings, it changed everything. Now, on our calendar, we have designated days where we don’t schedule anything. No meetings. No shoots. Nothing. We make it so we don’t have to get ready or drive anywhere. It’s a full day where we can put our heads down and work without distraction. Then, we look ahead on the calendar and find a few days where we already have to get ready and leave the house. For us, Sunday is one of those days. We teach Sunday school and go to church Sunday morning, so we’re already out of the house, so we try and schedule client consultations, take other work meetings, see friends and family, and do our engagement shoots on Sundays.
Here’s what that does: it saves getting ready time and it saves drive time, especially if we can schedule things close to the same area. So, instead of spending 7 hours per week getting ready, we only spend a few, and instead of driving a different place every single day, we try and stack and schedule everything in a close geographic area. Again, this saves us hours. So, instead of 7 hours of getting ready + 7 hours of driving to and from things, we’re spending 2-3 hours getting ready and 2-3 hours of drive time. Even on the high end, if that’s 6 hours, when you subtract that from the 14 hours we were spending the exact same activities before, that’s an entire 8 hour workday!
So, friends, if you’re able to be a little bit more strategic with your calendar, too, you can seriously get back an entire day of the week to work, play, or do whatever you want. We never used to understand when people would say, Work smarter, not harder, but we so get it now! Our challenge for you this week is to look at your calendar with a critical eye and find places where you can get hours back! You’ll be so happy you did!
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