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Being a Strategic Manager and Your Schedule

February 26, 2008

Here’s the challenge.You work 8, 10, 12 or 14 hours or more a day, yet you don’t have enough time.You certainly don’t have enough time to accomplish all the things that strategically could make a difference on any given day.


It gets more problematic.Not only do you not have enough time in the day, or enough openings in the schedule, the day easily fills up with non-strategic stuff.Calls, meetings, tasks, stuff that may be important, may just be part of the job.Stuff that’s urgent even, but typically not strategic.There are some things you can do to be more strategic and in this blog I’m going to discuss what that has to do with your calendar.But before I begin, let me define being strategic for the purpose of this conversation to include:
1. How you manage your own time and resources, as well as those of others with respect to the outcomes you want to reach and the values you want to live out, and
2. How you respond to growth opportunities, when you suddenly find “lift.”
More about that in a second, first let’s go over what not to do with your calendar.
This one is really simple.Don’t give control of your day, your calendar to someone else.Regardless of your position, and I really mean that, most people give up their schedule to others.Giving up your schedule is easy to do, whether that means punching the time clock or checking in with your admin to see what’s on your day.What I’m trying to point out is that whether your job gives you a little or a lot of latitude in how you schedule the day, most people give over the control of the schedule to someone else formally, or informally as their day fills up with the requests, inquiries and agenda of others… all of which doesn’t have much to do with being strategic.

There are a couple of specific actions I want to cover with you to take strategic control of your schedule, but it starts even before then, it starts with internally claiming the day as yours.It’s you deciding to “show up”.Sometimes you find this anchor point inside by asking, “Given that I choose to be here today, what’s important to get accomplished, to communicate, to be, etc.?”If this was the last day God was going to give you on the planet, and you were going to do your regular activities, what would be important to cover, to get addressed?

Let me say this in a different way.Being strategic begins with being intentional.Given your skills, your resources, your time, and the needs of the day, of your team, of your organization – what do you intend to do about it, today?If being intentional is one leg under strategic, the second leg is prioritizing and this is where your schedule comes in.

Here are three tips for being effective as a strategic manager of first yourself and secondly others:

1.I discussed this in a previous blog, but use the first 15 minutes of the day to identify what are the top 2 or 3 priorities, what really needs to get done to move the “ball forward” today.Again there are more todos on your schedule than can get done.Research a few years back suggested that most managers and executives have 15 hours of outstanding work on their desk at any given time.I think I have 60 hours.

That means YOU CAN’T GET IT ALL DONE TODAY, so what is most important?Most important, not from a sense of urgency, most important in terms of the outcomes and goals you want to see achieved.That’s a question you need to decide, not abdicate to what’s in your “in-box” and other time fillers.

2. Don’t just identify what’s priority, schedule it!Imagine that if it doesn’t get on your schedule, it isn’t going to happen.Not that having it on your schedule is any guarantee either, but if you haven’t carved out time for what you’ve identified as important, it will likely get pushed out of the way.Not having set aside time on your schedule for what’s strategically important means that, like lots of other good intentions that aren’t prioritized, you won’t find the time to get them done.

Something I’ve learned to do over the years is to drag those items I’m strategically prioritizing right into my calendar in ManagePro as events.Stretching my calendar durations so what’s strategic gets time slots just like any other meeting or commitment.The handful of strategic priorities will float up at the top of my calendar each day, essentially reminding me to schedule them a slot.Very helpful.

3. Hang on to your priorities tightly, but ease up the grip on the schedule. To the extent you have lattitude in your schedule, approach what’s scheduled like a bird looking for lift.My office is on a knife edge of a ridge, and through-out the day, a local group of ravens come soaring by.Sometimes they’re looking for food, sometimes they’re playing in the air, but they consistently respond to lift.When its not there, they go on, when it is there they ride it, use it, they don’t fly by it. Imagine that lift is that sensation that you’ve just uncovered or engaged in a conversation or an activity that will get you closer to your strategic goals.Do you stay with it, or stick to the schedule?Imagine that you’re half way through a meeting and you’re sensing that it is going to run another 30 minutes but not provide value, do you exit or move on, or re-orient it, or stay with the schedule and process? Imagine what your work life would be like if strategic priority trumped schedule.

I feel compelled to mention that being opportunistic can be very strategic, but without attending to strategic priorities, can also lead to lots of chaos in the calendar and an undiscipline approach to work – ravens don’t spend much time regulalry building anything that lasts.

Bottom Line:Make your daily calendar reflect what’s strategically important, not just a list of your schedule appointments and deadlines.Your day is going to be a challenge between what’s required and what’s strategically important.Schedule the strategic, you’ll feel the lift.

Tips to Up Your Game as a Strategic Manager
Strategic Time
The Relationship between Being Fast and Managing Information

4 Comments. Leave new

Performance Solutions Technology, LLC » Blog Archive » Working Strategically and the 3 Legged Stool of Outcome, Game Clock and Value
March 7, 2008 4:04 pm

[…] Being a Strategic Manager and Your Schedule Tips to Up Your Game as a Strategic Manager Strategic Time The Relationship between Being Fast and Managing Information Goals and Performance Improvement You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.   « Previous Article Leave a Reply […]


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Ridge Paint Maple
January 27, 2011 3:53 am

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