Don't Fill Up Your Calendar

Some good advice from The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success:

When you think about it, absolutely everything anyone does starts with a thought. Becasue the quality of the thought has a large influence on the quality of the outcome, it makes sense to do what you can to think clearly. In a world in which technology provides the capacity to reach out and be reached anytime, anywhere, finding space to think clearly is more and more of a challenge. A lack of white space on one’s calendar correlates with a lack of white space in one’s brain.

The author then recounts a story from his former boss to illustrate this:

I can remember one time talking to another executive who said he was in meetings from morning until night and I asked, “How can you do your job?” and this guy just looked at me. I said, “I see part of my job as leaving enough space to think about what the next issue or problem is that lands on my desk.” He just looked at me like I was nuts. It is very counterintuitive, but I think if you leave some white space on your calendar you tend to get more done.

A full calendar may give the appearance of getting things done, but being able to see that next competitive thing coming down the line or being able to see that we’ve got two groups that are fighting here and we really need to invest in getting them to work together — those are the critical things that executives need to do.

It is about having the capacity to see further out or to deal with that big threat to your bottom line. The easier issues will get managed below, if you are doing your job right. The higher you are in the organization, the tougher the issues are that come to you. You have to have the space and perspective to deal with those tougher issues.

I think a lot of people measure their worth in a corporation by how many meetings they attend. It depends on the culture of the organization you are in, but often it is a huge mistake to fill up your schedule with meetings.