Reimagining work in the digital age: Manage your calendar, manage your life

When I look back on the roles I’ve had in companies over the years, a few stand out as special. One of these is heading up a Leadership Institute for a company going through major culture change. 

My organizational development team facilitated a Leaders-teaching-Leaders program that brought together groups of 20 cross-functional directors from across the business. Each group met every day for a week, over 3 sequential months.  

In the evenings of these programs, we invited guest speaker VPs from the business to join us for dinners with the director groups. The VPs mingled over cocktails, dined with the program attendees, and then gave a talk on a topic of their choice in the spirit of mentoring the directors. 

While coordinating speaking slots for guest speakers one week, I reached out to a local exec.  He was a soft spoken man who had an air of competence to him — the kind of person you had confidence in when It came to offering advice around pretty much anything. He carved out time to mentor others, and was someone employees wanted to work for.  

When I invited him to our Institute dinner session, he immediately accepted. The subject he chose to address: Manage your calendar, manage your work.  

I’m sure everyone has had one of those “aha” moments at work as you look back and think about what helped shape your successful work habits. This was one for me. He discussed the importance of looking out at the calendar and thinking about how to manage not only the critical work and the tasks leading up to successfully completing the work, but also how to prioritize time. How to think about short-term and long-term projects and chunk them up into progress you can see on the calendar. And just as importantly, how to ensure you are making time for people: 1:1’s with all direct reports, reaching out to potential mentors, lunch with colleagues you don’t see often, and blocking off the time you need to get to your kids’ activities and honor family time.  

Fast-forward 15 years to my role working for a virtual company. CRN has always operated without a physical headquarters, and meetings held via Zoom have been our operating comfort zone, enabling us to grow and serve thousands of leaders across the globe with an amazing team of experienced Coaches. 

At a time when many managers are being challenged to work from home for the first time, I find calendar management more important than ever to reimagining work in the digital age. In fact, I would take the advice a bit further to say: Manage your calendar, manage your life.   

I find that if something is scheduled on my calendar, I feel compelled to do it. Synching up my work and personal priorities into one seamless web of colors across my calendar, has been key to integrating all parts of my life.  

Years ago when I commuted downtown, I had the drive time to move from work to home mode. I found that working from home I missed that Monday morning runway for mental transition. For the past several years, I have blocked off my first hour on Monday morning to hike up the summit of a local trail to clear my head and prepare for the week. It does wonders for my productivity. 

Think about how you can use your calendar to help you be more successful. In fact, schedule some time next week to think about it. If it’s on the calendar, you might even do it!  

About the Author:

Kelly works with L&D, HR, and corporate university leaders to develop scalable coaching programs for leaders around the world. She has had the opportunity to leverage her background in organizational development, executive coaching, performance consulting, and change management to build programs that fit the company culture.