I’ve had this problem for a while. I feel it impeding my ability to do my best, most important work, and yet, I haven’t faced it before. Oh, I give it lip service or a half-hearted fix, but nothing sticks.  

Today, I took the first step to truly eradicating from my life.

Why am I telling you this? Because I suspect many of you suffer from the same affliction, and I thought we might work on it together.

My problem? There’s no white space on my calendar.  

I book myself so tightly in meetings, coaching calls, on-site consultations, workshops, peer groups, etc., that I don’t give myself enough margin to actually get my work done. And so I do it on the weekends or at 1 am. I get it done but is it as good as it would be if I were fully charged and wasn’t trying to cram it into the cracks?

I have some huge plans for 2021, but to cross the finish line, I need big blocks of time to create. I know if I can find that time, I can create uber helpful content, videos, mini-courses, and other teaching tools that will be incredibly valuable to you. But…first I have to find the time.

The challenge is — I love every single activity that fills my calendar. I love coaching agency owners. I love sitting in a conference room working with a leadership team. I love teaching a workshop or consulting on a gnarly issue. I’m good at them, and the work is rewarding.

For you, it might be doing strategy for a client or sitting in on a creative brainstorming session. Or putting out a client fire or jumping in to fix some code. But if you pack your calendar with that sort of work — you never get to do the biggest, best work you’re called to do. That only you can do.

I took a huge first step today. I went through my calendar for the entire year and blocked time off to get MY work done. Of course, I’ve taken this step before. And then I violate those blocks of time, over and over again. I violate it because someone asks for help, and I can help them. I want to help them. And poof — there goes my work time!

Sound familiar?

I’ve done the easy step many times. What I haven’t been able to accomplish is the hard step. Not violating the time I’ve blocked off. I allowed myself to violate those sacred blocks of time because of this internal dialogue: 

“X needs my help. I really shouldn’t schedule anything else on Thursday, but I know they’re anxious about ABC, and I think I can help them find a solution. I know that means I wouldn’t have time to do my work, but it’s okay. I’ll find time this weekend.”

So I sacrifice myself to be in service of X. Good intentioned for sure. But I don’t get the results I want.

Here’s how I am going to try to shift that script:

“X needs my help. I could schedule time to talk to them on Thursday, but then I am violating my protected work time. I know that when I honor that time, I’m able to help thousands of agency owners in the way I’ve helped AMI’s peer group members. I’m going to see if they can talk on Wednesday night while I’m walking Heather or on Friday morning.”

Now I am forcing myself to recognize that I’m not being as helpful to as many agency owners as possible when I don’t honor my promise to myself. It’s not about sacrificing me. It’s about not having as much to offer you.

Here’s how you might shift your script:

“Client team Y needs my help. But if I participate in that meeting, I’m going to lose the three hours I was going to spend making follow up biz dev calls. If I don’t make those calls consistently, our AGI will atrophy away, and someone here will lose their job. Maybe I can ask team Y to brief me on their work at the end of the day, and I can invest 30 minutes versus 3 hours.”

I don’t know if it will work. But I know this is an issue I need to master, and I’m willing to give it a try. The other thing I want to do is built-in accountability. So at the end of every newsletter, I’m going to show you this:

Hours I blocked off this week: X

Hours I honored this week: (hopefully) X

Remember, I just did this today, so my calendar had no open windows until January 29th. So my first report will be on 02/03.

If you’ve mastered this differently — I’d love to hear about it!


This was originally published in the weekly AMI newsletter.  To subscribe, click here.