Control Your Time
I've spoken before about 'meeting madness' and how consistently stacking day after day with meeting after meeting is a practice that should be outlawed in the modern business world.
A similar, related issue is our compulsive need to fill out and block our schedules with "essential activities" every minute of the day. Because we're busy 'doing things', we must be adding value, we must be productive. Material open slots of time on our calendars surely mean we are wasting time, because "Activity = Progress".
As the Brits say, what a load of bollocks.
We've become so caught up in the lie that is "busy-ness", that we've given up safeguarding the single most precious commodity we have - time.
We've accepted this lie because it looks good. It's like face time - others think we're busy, we think we're being productive, and everyone feels important (or at least maintains that perception).
The problem is that we're not using that time to do things that are truly valuable but don't require other people, or 'doing things' or, any sort of 'activity'.
More often than not, it's as important to sit back and think. Read. Learn. Analyze.
When we take the time to clear our calendars to think, we allow our best ideas to come to us, to piece different perspectives together. We allows ourselves to become more conscious of the strategy behind our actions, our careers and our businesses.
To the external observer (for example, our office colleagues), this 'looks' unproductive, a perception made all the more acute in this age of digital calendars that are shared openly amongst our teams.
(She's always got time, her calendar's wide open. Doesn't she have anything to do?)
This is the lie and we all know it. In the words of Bill Gates, "Its not a proxy of your seriousness that you've filled every minute of your schedule."
Of course, sometimes the lie isn't a lie at all. Particularly when we aren't doing what we want or love, when we aren't following our true mission. In so many cases, we are simply going through the motions, fulfilling someone else's agenda that we haven't bought into. Then, the face time, the perceptions, the lie becomes important to us.
But when we value our mission - be it profit, nonprofit, corporate, social, etc. - we need to take back control over our time. We have to be ready and willing to live with the perception. We have to have the courage to show it, to not fear judgement, to wear it like a badge.