time blocking my collagues calendar

Time blocking my colleague’s calendar [PMP #231]

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about time blocking before. This is a technique I’ve been following since 2010 to schedule time on my calendar to work on specific tasks and projects.

While I think it’s a very powerful technique and one of the best methods you can use to plan out your work, not everyone finds this technique easy to adopt.

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Paul Minors · PMP #231: Time blocking my colleague's calendar

My colleague, Warwick, is a good example. Since he started working with me full-time in early 2021, we’ve been doing an end of week review where we run down our list of clients and plan what needs to be done next for each one. Warwick would then schedule time on his calendar for this work. While he was good at making his initial plan when it came to updating his calendar and making time for new work that comes in during the week, he started to fall behind and his calendar quickly became out of date.

Warwick told me that he’d sometimes feel some anxiety around keeping his calendar up to date and didn’t know how to make time for new work coming in.

Being someone that finds time blocking more natural, I’m now managing his calendar and scheduling his work for him.

And this got me thinking…

What if you started your day by opening up your calendar and having everything you need to do planned out in front of you? Wouldn’t that be great!?

I’ve been doing time blocking for many years and when I wrap up at the end of the day, I review and plan my tasks for tomorrow so I can get to work immediately the next day.

But if you’re someone that struggles to plan their time, maybe you can outsource this to someone else?

If you’re a business owner, maybe you can hire a virtual assistant to review your task list and have them schedule work on your calendar. As long as you give them clear guidelines about how to prioritise work, this wouldn’t be too difficult.

Or if you work on a team, maybe your team leader or manager can help schedule your work. Now I know what you’re thinking, you don't want to come across as lazy. But hear me out… A lot of project managers or heads of department assign work to their teams but usually leave it up to the assignee to schedule their time and work out when to get everything done. But not everyone finds this easy. And even if they did, is this the best use of their time?

Take for example a designer or developer. For these types of workers, the more time they can spend on productive work, the better. If they have to spend a portion of their time planning, that’s time they could be spending on producing revenue-generating results. And anyway, isn’t part of a project managers job to assign and plan their team's workload? Isn’t this why C-suite people have executive assistants? So they can spend more time on high-value tasks and less time planning?

This is how I look at it with Warwick. As a business owner, I want Warwick to work on revenue-generating tasks as much as possible. The more time he is spending on client work, the better.

So it’s kind of like I’m now Warwick’s executive assistant. But by scheduling his work, not only does this make it quicker and easier for him to get to work each day but he’s no longer stressing about how to fit it all in. And the benefit for me is I’m much more aware of the status of each task and client he’s working on. I don't need to chase him for updates as often and I feel better knowing where everything is at and when tasks are going to be worked on.

The key to making this work is good systems and communication. Everything we need to do is managed in Asana. When Warwick is working on a task, he’ll post comments on the task to report on his progress and request more time if needed. He can then move on to the next task without any friction while I schedule additional time on the calendar and update his agenda as needed. And I don't mind doing this. Time blocking comes naturally to me so it doesn’t take long and if it makes Warwick’s life easier and increases his output, great!

Ultimately, this is a role I want to spend more time in going forward; I want to do less of the work and spend more time managing the work. In the last few months, I’ve hired a few contractors to help do some of my Asana and Pipedrive client calls. I’ve done this partly to offer additional capacity to clients but also so I can slowly start doing less of the work myself. Ultimately, I may even bring in a project manager to do the workload management for me (and I can focus purely on sales) but that’s a goal for the future.

For now, I wanted to share my experience with time blocking my colleague's calendar. If you’re a project manager or business owner, maybe this is something you can be doing for your team. Or like I said, if you’re someone that struggles with time management, maybe this is something you can outsource to someone that is better at time management.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!