As an executive, very often your most limited resource is your own time. This concept, which I have personally used for many years, has three great benefits:
- Helps protect you from filling your schedule with meetings and events that are less than optimal toward meeting your business goals
- Used in reverse, helps you schedule time with other busy people
- Used in reverse, helps you secure the best possible people for your future projects
This may seem like extraordinary advantages for a time management technique, but it’s true and this is how it works.
The underlying concept behind this technique is that people are much more protective of their commitments and schedule in the near-time (the next two or three weeks), than they are of their far-time (out two or three months from now). The reason for this phenomenon is that people generally have a strong mental picture of their short term:
- Business commitments and work deliverables
- Longer range projects nearing their delivery dates
- Problems which have arisen and must be dealt with
- Unforeseen business opportunities that have seemingly come out of the blue
- Personal time commitments, such as doctor appointments and kids’ soccer games
- The uncomfortable feeling that your calendar is so filled with meetings that you will not have time to complete/perform the previously mentioned items
For all of these reasons, busy people are very protective of their short-term time because they can mentally calculate their short-term workload.
People’s far-time schedule is much less defined.
- Many business commitments and work deliverables have not yet been assigned
- Long range projects are still viewed as being long-range
- Future problems have not as of yet raised their ugly heads
- Unforeseen business opportunities are still unforeseen
- Doctor appointments have not yet been scheduled
- Children’s future soccer schedules have not yet been emailed to their parents
As a result of these future unknowns, peoples’ future calendars and time commitments always seem to be less overwhelming and thus, they are more willing to add meetings to their schedules and commit to personal deliverables.
The suggestion here for you personally is to be as protective of your far-time as you are of your near-time. The reason is that time marches forward. Two or three months from now, today’s far-time, will become tomorrow’s near-time.
Regarding scheduling meetings with others, the further in the future that you try to schedule a meeting, the more likely it is that your meeting request will be accepted. There is, of course, the potential that the person will reschedule or cancel the meeting as time gets closer, but if they do, they will be less likely to cancel a second meeting. As an additional thought, when trying to schedule future meetings, be careful not to request days during known busy times for the person you are targeting. For example, if you would like to meet with the VP of Sales, don’t try to schedule the meeting the last week of the month, quarter, or year. He/she will most likely want to leave these times open to close pending deals within the current period. Requesting a meeting at these times shows a lack of understanding of their workflow.
Regarding securing the best future project resources, managers are generally more knowledgeable of their current resource requirements than their future resource needs because current projects have not yet run late, future requests have not yet been asked, and future production and business issues have not yet come to light.
Until next time, lead well, always communicate, and think business first and technology second.