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Setting Healthy Boundaries: Control the Traffic in Your Calendar

Establishing healthy boundaries at work, where you have control over how to best utilize your time, is crucial to ensure you can do your job effectively. 

Yet, I always notice some common themes after working with hundreds of professionals:


  • Overbooked calendars

  • Well-planned Mondays gone off track by noon

  • Struggling to say no to non-urgent, non-essential meetings


When discussing productivity, I like to focus on the basics: 

Productivity isn't about cramming more into an overloaded agenda; it's about taking control and maximizing the time you have.

Imagine your calendar as your personal GPS for navigating the workday. At the end of your day, very few jobs involve spending the entire day in meetings. It's essential to strike a balance between making time for people and still getting work done.




I use a traffic light system, which I call the Hidden Calendars:


🟢 Green: Book Me :) - This is when your calendar is open, and you are happy to make this time available for meetings and collaborations. Use these blocks for essential, high-impact activities like brainstorming sessions and important decision meetings.

But remember, it's not just about filling your calendar with meetings all the time. When you notice a day becoming overscheduled, you can switch to a different colour and block out time for focused work.


🟡 Yellow: Ask First! - This might not be the best time for meetings or calls, so colleagues should ask for your availability first. Yellow indicates that you had planned something else for that time or that you're open to meeting, but it's not your peak productivity zone.


You'll accept only if the topic is genuinely important and urgent and can't wait for a better time. For those dealing with different time zones, it may also be to accommodate calls outside your working hours, but this should be the exception, not the rule.


🔴 Red: I Am Not Available. - This is your sacred time when interruptions are a no-go. Red blocks are reserved for urgent, deep work, and concentrated problem-solving. These hours also double as your off-work hours. 


When your calendar goes red, it's a fortress of focus. Only real emergencies should breach this barrier; otherwise, your time is off-limits.


To make the Traffic Light System work seamlessly, communication is key. 


Many people struggle with their calendars being double or triple-booked, yet they still join every call without questioning. If people constantly book your unavailable time, you should understand why and deal with it. 


But it can only happen if you are the first to respect your time and say no to meetings that you should not attend. If you are still in doubt if you should attend a certain meeting, you can find additional guidelines in my previous article.


The Traffic Light System isn't just about time management; it's a powerful tool for enhancing peak performance and focus while still being available for effective collaborations. I have relied on this for years to stay fully engaged in my meetings and consistently productive.


It's time to start painting your calendar with these colours of success and transform your workplace into a happier, more efficient space.


Best,

Serena


Do you need help to take control of your time?


Check out my Master Effortless Value program. And for your team, don't miss out on the on-demand Master Performance Workshop

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