Diaries hold many secrets, whether accessible or not… Here are 5 reasons to share your calendar today!
From all demands placed on Executives today, Peter Drucker identified the biggest one is on their Time and so before you can manage others, you must manage yourself and your own time. Your diary or calendar is one of the most effective tool to focus yourself and engage others. I’ll share one secret: I learn a lot about people I work with by reviewing their calendars!
For those people who share their diaries, it tells me about their communication skills, their productivity, their habits, their commitments, their role and responsibilities, their productivity for example. It also helps me find ideas and practices, identify how I can timely support my colleagues too!
For the majority of people who don’t share, it still tells me something about their management and leadership skills!
When I ask for someone’s access to their calendar, I usually get one of those responses:
– Sure, I’ll grant you access but why on earth would you want access to my diary?!
– Sorry, I’m too important and have confidential items
– No response – usually confirms other indicators of productivity, management and leadership skills.
Those who have understood the value of their calendar will have given me read access without me asking or even better will have sent me a link to it.
Let’s clear this first: No Excuses valid!
For the majority of us who use electronic diaries, there are no valid excuses for not sharing access to everyone, from your colleagues to family!
Confidentiality is most often used as an argument for not sharing diaries; I find it happens to be used a lot by people who have personal organisation challenges visible in other ways… Most electronic calendar software supports marking items as public, private including your delegates or strictly private so that can’t be a valid reason for not sharing access to diaries.
Why Sharing Access to our Diaries?
Here are 5 reasons why you should share your diary with everyone today:
1-Your Family Matters, First
When you ask someone what’s the most important thing in their life, they most often say “my family”. Your diary should be reflecting your priorities not only to you but visible to the other parties too. So share your diary with your family so they know that you care first of them, have planned time with them and help them plan their own time accordingly.
Leadership is for everyday and sharing your diary can help you do that:
– Commitment to objectives: in my teams, we have group objectives assigned to individuals as well as private personal development objectives. The team objectives are not only shared but communicated to peer teams, senior management and other stakeholders, focusing all resources on common objectives. One of the way this can be shown in your diary is relating diary entries to those strategic objectives. It also helps engage and remind your teams about the collective commitment to objectives.
– Unwavering commitment: When we define and agree our team goals, we rarely have all needed information at hand and it is therefore difficult to commit. Regardless, it is critical that the “Leaders” demonstrate their ability to commit time to deliver the objectives highlighted in their diary commitments, to deadlines.
– Commitment to transparency: to get the best out of our teams, we need Trust, vulnerability-built trust as described by Patrick Lencioni. My diary helps me with two things: first, acknowledging I cannot do what I need to do without the support of my diary; I would simply get too distracted without it and fail to stay on track. Second, sharing with my teams how I spend my time will help me and them believing in the efforts we make to deliver our transparent objectives, with no other secret agenda!
3-Develop your Team
If you work in my teams, I’ll be giving you access to my diary and I’ll be asking you to share yours with everyone. This has several benefits:
– Coaching best-practices to your teams: As a manager of directs and team members it helps me expose a set of practices which my teams will identify themselves when browsing my diary; some will even implement them, ranging from personal productivity tips to management practices.
– Gentle peer-pressure: Whoever you are, showing an empty diary to colleagues will not be comfortable. Any change in behaviour to put some structure in self-organisation and productivity in their diary can only be of benefit to the individual and the teams.
– Highlight what’s important: Your diary will reflect your priorities. This will show your team what those are and what you and they can do about it.
4-Don’t Miss Such a Communication Opportunity!
Openly sharing your diary not only help you and others schedule time but it is also a great communication opportunity at no additional cost to you! Once they know your diary is a source of “secrets”, you’ll find that people around you will spend time reviewing your diary regularly. This communication media must be put to good use:
– Tell your objectives and priorities: It clearly shows to your boss, peers and teams what your objectives and priorities are. Be explicit in the diary entries and provide 2-3 line descriptions and deadline in the subject line
– Effective, Automated communication: To cut down on “interaction clutter” with people leaving you voice mails, emails, etc to find out where you are, simply make that clear on your diary entries, including how they can contact you for emergencies. If you happen to have the luxury of a personal assistant I hope you already make the most of it, in particular as a gate keeper role, protecting your time and focus on your key objectives. If you haven’t got this luxury, I use a little but effective trick I learned from Ramit Sethi and adapted for my own purposes to put in place some of that “gate keeper” role: whether you are in or out of the office, setup Out of Office rules in your email program, letting people know how to contact you or your delegates and set expectations on your current activities and time to response to emails.
– Time management education: Even if you are not explicitly coaching people around you for time management effectiveness, you’ll notice that overtime people do notice your personal organisation efficiency and adjust their own behaviours, personal organisation, timely communications, start booking their own time and adopt those practices, simply based on the “secrets” you shared in your diary!
5-First, say No!
Have you ever noticed how someone who isn’t organised and can’t plan their own time more than 2 days in advance always end up asking you to meet over lunch time because that’s the only “spare” time they could find? Whether it’s to commit time for your key deliverables, lunch or go-home time, displaying when you are available or not helps you say no first for any such requests and also helps you focus on your key deliverables only. From a management point of view, it also helps you ensure that you put the most relevant resources, economically, to any given task: Does this supplier meeting really need you to attend or could you consider delegating some vendor management responsibilities to your teams?
Share your diary Now!
– Do it now!: before you go ahead and give everyone read access to your calendar, please review your calendar content to ensure you mark any private items as private if necessary! This might also prompt you to rethink how you budget your time!
– Learn from people around you: Consider sending a link to your shared diary to your peers, your boss, your teams and requesting access to their diary. Beyond the simple fact of sharing yours, you’ll also benefit from indirect attention and interest, make the most of this communication opportunity!