Take Control of Your Calendar

If you’ve been in the corporate world, you’ll probably be familiar with the concept of the ‘away-day’.

It doesn’t always happen like this, but the idea is that you take some time out with your ‘team’ to reflect on or review what you are doing or going to do next.

I’ve been to a few of these, both as a manager and as a consultant.

Some have been good, some a complete waste of time – a ‘day off’ in effect.

In my experience there never seemed to be any pattern to these events, they were arranged as and when someone felt the need perhaps to pull things together.

But the main problem with these things was the failure to put much of what was agreed into practice.

Back in the workplace things usually returned to ‘normal’, not always, but usually, and in many cases these events were discontinued after a short while until someone else came up with the idea again.

In reality however, if you run a business of any size, it really is essential to take time out on a regular basis to review where you are and to create new strategies or tactics.

Indeed, you and I should do this on a personal basis as well – reviewing out current lifestyle and looking forward to whatever we want to happen next.

Far too often we get into a ‘routine’ a sort of ‘Groundhog Day’ existence where every weekday has a similar pattern and so does every weekend.

We just get stuck in the rut of life which is only broken by ‘holidays’ but even they quite often develop their own routine and regardless of where we are, we end up doing much the same things.

My friend Phil Olley has a different take on things.

He prescribes that we should take a number of days every year, maybe every three months as what he calls ‘Hotel Days’ where we go somewhere different – not work or home – and consider our business or life strategies.

It’s not a ‘day off’.

It’s a time for deep reflection and review, a time for creating new visions and strategies and setting new goals over one or two days away from our normal environment.

Phil also proposes that we take one day a month as a ‘Focus Day’ devoted to measurement and checking and making sure we are on track with those goals – we don’t necessarily have to ‘go away’ for these but we do release ourselves from the ‘routine’ stuff.

Thirdly, Phil, along with many other people also suggests that the first thing you and I do when we come to set our calendar for the year is to book in our holiday time.

This is a lot easier for business owners than those who are employed (especially in the United States) but to be honest if you own a business you should be able to take around 12 weeks of the year ‘off’.

Not necessarily completely out of touch with your business but certainly not working ‘in’ it.

Mary Morrissey adds another aspect to this idea.

The time you take away from your business should be in synch with the different domains of your life.

Mary identifies four domains: Health, Relationships, Vocation and Freedom.

She suggests that you take control of your calendar to ensure that you spend the appropriate amount of time focused on each of these.

(They will not be evenly balanced for most people)

This time should be devoted to each of the domains, not only the time you spend each day as part of your normal routine, but maybe a long weekend, a week, 10 days, or a month.

To explain the domains are about –

Your relationships with individuals, groups, communities and society as a whole – who are they to you and who are you to them?

Your health and wellness, including nutrition, fitness and spirituality.

Your ‘vocation’ is what you do, not necessarily your ‘work’. It incudes that, but also what you love to do when you’re not working.

Your ‘freedom’ is about your lifestyle in general and more particularly your ability to have enough time and money available to you to pursue the lifestyle you choose.

If you want, you can also apply those parameters to your business as well as your personal life.

What confuses a lot of people who attempt to do this planning is the way our year is divided up.

Because of the idea of weeks which relate to the four phases of the moon, the full cycle being a month, and the more recent concept of the ‘weekend’ people now have the idea that ‘holidays’ or more correctly vacations should take one or more weeks.

I use the term ‘vacation’ partly because that’s how it appears in most languages (including American) as its meaning is to ‘vacate’ or leave what you are doing, so I think it’s a much better word than ‘holiday’ which is derived from Holy Day which means something entirely different.

So, when you plan your ‘hotel days’ and your life domain themed vacations don’t be constrained too much by the calendar.

Forget about the weeks and months – there is always a way around the ‘timetables’ imposed by travel companies and airlines.

Take control of your calendar.

Plan your essential ‘away from routine’ time, your time for reflecting, and reviewing, your time for vision building and strategizing whenever is appropriate and best for you.

Just strings of days and a day or two here and there.

You and I should be able to find 90 days for this throughout the year.

Why not make your plans now?