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Scheduling and Structure
Use as much scaffolding as each person needs, but not much more
How are you at your most productive? For some people, they thrive under the discipline of the clock—scheduling keeps them on-track.
For others, (over)scheduling kills their creativity, flow, and motivation. It’s not an all-or-nothing, rigidity-versus-chaos thing, though—each person has an optimal range on the continuum between these two poles. Finding that spot for each team-member can be an ongoing challenge.
Schedule the things that are time-sensitive priorities or time-specific events that involve multiple people (meetings, etc.). These are some of the most obvious components that most people need on their calendar.
Schedule “do-not-disturb” time, particularly if you need to focus without interruptions on a regular basis. Use productively. In conjunction, you may also want to follow this block with an “office-hours” time, in which you have an open-door policy for your people to come ask questions, brainstorm, troubleshoot, etc.
Schedule strategic time. Many people don’t consider this something to schedule, but if you put in a block of time each week for these “Big Picture” items, you can use it on the top strategic issues, such as business development, improving office culture, strategic planning, working on strategic initiatives, etc. Without scheduling, they can fall fallow for weeks or months.
Schedule people-development time. If you have a standing meeting each week with each of your direct reports, you can use it to keep your understanding of each active project current. You can brainstorm next steps or trouble-shoot problems. And you can also use this dedicated time to coach and mentor your people and grow their competencies in a wide range of directions.
Need reminders? Use the methods that work for you. Allow your calendar to pop prompts into the top right corner of your screen. Or add alarms to your phone, including repeating alarms for daily or weekly action items. Don’t use methods that derail your train of thought (e.g., no screaming klaxon sounds from your phone), but also make sure it’s a method that keeps you from missing things (e.g., don’t have the notifications remain silenced even after the meeting has ended or keep them on a calendar you don’t check). Consider using more noticeable methods (e.g., phone alarms) for time-critical items, but do NOT use them for less-critical items, or you may train yourself to ignore the notifications.