As I told someone the other day, one of my ‘tells’ for when I am busy is the fact I start musing about my diary and how I spend my time (my other one is excessive stationary accumulation as what project isn’t improved by a new notebook?). I treat my diary as a puzzle which can be solved or an equation which will work out into an elegant answer. I’ve come back to this theme again again as mindful diary (here is the last instalment).
A lot of what I have looked at before has been tactics and some of these like the drop ins and the day planner are really helpful but I’ve started to think more about how to intentionally budget time as one of the things that is really notable in a senior position is how your choices about where you spend your time have a ripple effect beyond the impact of the actual time spent.
To that end I am thinking beyond tactics and thinking about the purpose(s) behind how I chose to spend my time – and how those choices reflect the kind of leader I want to be. I have identified 4:
- Doing the work: I am hands on with a number of things – sometimes of necessity and sometimes by choice and to be effective in that I have to make time
- People: I want to be available to my team and also make time for staff development and coaching
- The rituals: This is the stuff that needs the CEX as a matter of governance or representation
- Joy! There are some things I do because I like them – or because its part of my own personal development
There is a 5th category which is unscripted time – some of which is admin, some of which is time to deal with the emergent stuff and some of which is there to hopefully allow for some serendipity in the day or the week.
At the moment I think I’m dipping into work that doesn’t need me as well as having a need for us to untangle and clarify some of our accountabilities as part of our organisational design work. I also need to make sure I am there in the right ways for the right people. I’m going to try and enact this over the next few months – though in truth some of it will need to wait until we have sorted our organisational design and worked out who needs to be spending time where across the whole organisation.
All that being said – I do want to introduce two new tactics:
- I have talked before about trying to build in more (shorter) firebreaks into my time so that I can actually think about things rather than just reacting. Given that I am so much more productive on a clear morning than afternoon that I am going to see if I can protect a morning everyone other week to work on bigger bits of thinking.
- Going back to using the blogging to set my intent for the week or for a bit of work. I have said this (repeatedly) and the difference this time is about giving myself ‘permission’ to do this during the week. Reflecting back I associate writing with the weekend because I set the habit while doing my PHD – but it really doesn’t have to be that way.
This is not the first time I have looked at the diary puzzle and it won’t be the last – but given one of the only things I can control is my own agency and time its worth persisting!