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Today’s episode is a topic that I am very fired up about. I remember early on in business when I didn’t have a reliable calendar and how chaotic and lost it made me feel. But I also remember the moment when my mentor said, “Look, if you want to know my secret to success you need to use a calendar; everything needs to go in your calendar, and you need to do everything in that calendar.” 

My calendar became my blueprint. It was my opportunity to eliminate my emotions and focus on my habits.  I stopped operating from an emotional state and started operating from a habitual state. I knew that becoming the person that I wanted to be was going to take some work, and it was going to be by design. And, if it was going to be by design, I needed an effective calendar system that was going to reflect that.

I’m going to go into depth about how exactly to make an effective calendar that you can stick to, change the game and become the person you want to be.  

Steps to Take to Ensure an Effective Calendar 

1. Hinge your Life on your Calendar

Hinge your life on your calendar, because your calendar never lies to you. My calendar never lies to me; it never lets me down; it always tells the truth. It brings certainty into my life when I feel like life is spiralling out of control. Maybe it’s your health, a relationship, or something that’s happening. When I feel like I’m reeling and spiralling, my calendar refocuses me and brings certainty to me in times of uncertainty. 

A calendar is also a direct reflection of your behaviours and habits, and it’s one of the few things that you can control. There are a lot of things in your life that you can’t control. There are also a lot of things that are going to come at you that you did not foresee, but your calendar brings some of that control back and keeps you organized and on task. It’s also the only way for me to execute a strategy.  If you’re trying to get to the next promotion or the next income level, or anything specific — you’re going to need a strategy.  You will need a specific approach to get to the next level, and your calendar is going to guide you through that strategy.

2. Keep your calendar filled with what is important

How do I keep my calendar from getting filled by the first person who asks for my time, rather than my real priorities? This is a question I ask and get asked a lot when it comes to building an effective calendar. 

When you’re evaluating if someone or something should go in your calendar, there are a few questions that you should ask yourself before you give that person your time. 

The first question you should ask yourself is: is dealing with this situation or spending time with this situation in line with my purpose? Is booking a chunk of your time to discuss this topic, whether it’s the latest movie, catching up with a friend or, about business, in line with my purpose?

The second thing you should ask yourself is, does this really require my time? Is this something that I should be dealing with? Am I even the best person to deal with this? In this situation, I ask myself if there is someone else I could lift up as a leader, who can handle this before I get involved. 

For example, let’s say somebody sits down with me and says “Hey, I’m having a couple of challenges in an area and I would like to have some time to chat about it with you.” I will often say, “Have you talked to Sarah? She’s also recently gone through the same situation.” 

I do this because I’m looking to lift other people up, so I see if I can match up the situation and the conversation. I don’t do it because I’m trying to avoid dealing with it, I do it because there are times where I ask myself, “Am I the best person to give advice? Can I relate to this situation and problem?” If I think there’s somebody else on my team who can handle the situation in terms of relatability before I get involved, I’ll encourage a matchup situation so they can deal with that issue first. I hope that makes sense and I hope you don’t think I’m just trying to pass off a problem. If there’s somebody else who can add value to this situation, I’m going to encourage them to get involved and talk to that person first.

The next question you should ask yourself is, How much time do I need to allocate towards this?” There’s no such thing as time management; there’s only time allocation. A lot of times you can get something done in 20 or 30 minutes, but you will book an hour. What will happen is in the first half-hour of that meeting you’re going to get the story about the situation. I’m looking for the facts I don’t need all the emotions. The fact is what’s going on in your business and what’s going on your family situation. I understand it is important to get some of the backstory, but then get to the point and the facts. There are a lot of meetings you could do in 20 or 30 minutes that you’re allocating way too much time for. You have to set the intention.

The fourth question you should ask is, Is this something I should book right now or should I book it at a later date? For example: Say it’s a Wednesday and someone will come to me and say, “Look, I’d like to pick your brain about something and book a meeting regarding this issue.” I will often say, “You know what? Find me after Saturday, and let’s schedule something then.” The reason I’ll defer booking the meeting to a later date is that I want to give them three or four days to think about the situation, even before I commit to scheduling a meeting. When I do this 50% of the time, they don’t ever actually need me to do the meeting with them because, over those few days, they’ve already figured out the problem on their own. 

When shit hits the fan, people will automatically call you because they want you to fix it. They think you’re the solution. Especially if you’re their mentor, everybody wants your time because they believe that you’re the ultimate problem solver. However, I like to get them to work through it for a couple of days (unless it’s urgent). If they can think it through and come up with a couple of ideas, then we can book a meeting.  It gives them a lot of time to think about it the situation, and they’re coming to the table with solutions. By giving them more time, it means their emotions are low, so their intelligence is high. By deferring meetings and taking the time to consider if I need to book them right away, or at a later date, has freed up so much space in my calendar.  

If you can wrap your head around these points, it will change the game.

3. Use both an electronic calendar and a paper day-planner 

I get asked a lot about what my calendar looks like. I use an electronic calendar for a lot of reasons. One being I can book recurring meetings, and I can also book very far in advance. I’m already booking into March and April of next year.  When I open up my calendar, I can see my trips that are already booked, and all my meetings that are already blocked off between now and twelve months from now. Using an electronic calendar means that my assistants also have access to my schedule. It also shares to all of my devices, and I can colour code it, which means I am never missing any of my appointments.  

Along with my electronic calendar, I also use a paper day-planner, which is used strictly for my tasks and to-do list. No appointments. I use it for my pre-planning and power lists.  Every day before I go to sleep and every morning after I wake up, I review that list and when I’m getting things done. I’m checking them off. I carry my paper day-planner around, where I keep all my notes and to-do’s all in one spot, but I still have an electronic calendar that guides me. I can see that calendar a year out from now, at least.  I mean technically it’s out three, four or five years but that’s what my calendar looks like.

4. Block off your time 

If you were going to take a look at what is actually in my calendar, you’d see that everything is blocked off. Everything from my family time,  fitness time and business time are blocked off. I also have five or six things in my calendar every week that I would refer to as non-negotiable. For example, on Sunday mornings, it’s non-negotiable–that’s my family time. Unless I’m out of town, I’m with my family on Sunday mornings. I also have non-negotiable business time throughout the week where I have four or five training sessions I have to complete for my business.  I have non-negotiable time blocks because it creates guaranteed results in my life.

Let me give you an example. The time I spend with my family on Sunday morning will guarantee good things for my family. The time we spend laughing, playing games, going to church and being present will only do good things for my family. By creating this non-negotiable time on Sunday morning with my family, spending time with my kids and being present will only guarantee positive things. So by having it as a priority means that good things are going to come from it. 

It’s the same with my business. When I show up to every training and bring a guest, I’m working when I should be working. I’m doing the things that I should be doing, and it’s going to guarantee a certain level of success in my business, which is important to me. There are five or six things in my calendar that I’ve decided that if I do and I don’t compromise it’s going to bring me results, and I need that. This is especially important as an entrepreneur. 

Everything I need to run my life from the time I wake up, to the time I eat, and the time I spend time with my kids is in my calendar. Because, as my mentor told me, you put everything in your calendar, and you do everything that’s in that calendar.

5.  Stay on your allocated time 

If you are continuously running over your allotted time in your calendar block when meetings run long, or things get out of whack. What do you do? This is a question I get asked a lot. 

In this situation, there are a few things that might be happening. First, if you’re new to the calendar game, you might need a bigger buffer between appointments. If you’re always running late on meetings, showing up late to your next, you need to move things around. This usually means that you probably need a bigger buffer.  

Another reason is that you might need to cut your meeting shorter and set the intention at the beginning of the meeting of how long this meeting is going to be. This is 2019, guys.  We’re in the microwave society. People want things faster than ever. The average adult attention span is no longer than 45 minutes. Meaning, if you can’t get something done in 30 to 45 minutes you’ve already lost their attention. If your meetings are going on for hours, you’re saying too much and talking more than you’re listening. 

You need to get in the meeting, build rapport, set the intention, and pay attention to the time. When there are five minutes left, you say “Look, we have about five minutes left here,” and wrap it up. If you’re going over time, then you’re not respecting the calendar that you created.

It helps when you try to visualize your day the night before. Walk yourself through your calendar when you’re in bed. Visualize each appointment, and imagine yourself cutting the meeting so that you’re not overlapping on the next meeting. Also imagine your drive time, visualizing your buffer time is in there at the right moment. When you focus on it, and it becomes a priority and will not run over the allotted time. 

However, once in a while, you’re going to run over — it happens. In the end, it is all a work in progress; you need to focus on it, so you get better today than you were yesterday.

6. Treat your calendar how you would treat yourself 

I believe how you treat your calendar is a direct reflection of how you treat yourself. My mentor Ed Mylett, said it’s all about the standard that you set. Your behaviour and your habits come from the standard that you’ve placed in your life. The higher you set your standards, the better your habits need to be, and the better your behaviours need to be. Your calendar is what’s going to guide that standard. If you stay on it and run an effective system, it’s going to help you have less anxiety, put you in a clear mindset, and help you achieve all-around better health. This better mindset will help you believe in yourself, and it will get rid of that fear and ultimately increase your confidence. 

Tony Robbins always said you increase self-worth and self- confidence by keeping the promises you make to yourself. It’s a cycle, you set your goals, and you set your intention. Then your calendar should reflect the behaviours and habits that you need to hit that standard that you set in your life.  When you accomplish these behaviours and habits, you gain more confidence. When you gain this confidence, you also gain more self-worth and self-belief, so that the next time you set a goal, you believe that you can do it. Once you get into the success cycle and understand that success cycles and the faster you can spin that flywheel right, and the tighter you can get in that cycle, the faster you can move.

People feel stuck because they’re disjointed and unorganized, which makes them lack vision and clarity. They ultimately don’t know what they should be doing because they don’t have a strategy and are not running an effective calendar system. 

I hope you guys got some value out of this topic today and I hope you look at yourself and see if there is anything in this post that I could get better at and to make that change and become a better version of yourself.