There are a lot of different kinds of days in your working life. There are days full of meetings and days where you plow through your to-do list. There are days where you thought you were going to get one thing done but some other urgent task appeared and your plan went out the window. There are days when you get a chance to think ahead and be proactive, while other days you feel like you are drinking from a fire hose and barely have time to breathe.

While you can’t control what happens every day, you can and should build some specific types of time into your schedule.

No Meeting Day: This is just what it sounds like – a day where you don’t schedule any meetings. These days are good for one of two purposes.

  1. Working through a backlog of tasks. If you’ve gotten behind and need to make progress on some things you’ve procrastinated or just need to get through some busy work, a no meeting day will help you do this more efficiently
  2. Pulling yourself out of the day to day to plan ahead. A no meeting day is a time to gather your thoughts and formally think ahead. Review your current goals and re-align yourself. It’s a good time to use the Eisenhower Grid to think about how you are spending your time and decide if you and your team are focusing on the right priorities or need to adapt.

Team Day: I like to do a team day as an offsite (which, depending on what kind of team you run, might mean that you need to get coverage for any type of incoming requests or other interactions your team has with the rest of the organization and/or customers). This is a time to review and reset goals, get input from your team members collectively about what’s going well and what needs to go better. It’s also a time to do something together whether it’s a structured team building activity or just a baseball game. It’s a time to remember that everyone on the team is a person outside of work too.

Ask for Feedback Day: Once every few months is a good idea to schedule a day of meetings (or a survey if it’s not practical to do it in person) to hear from the people you and your team interact with regularly whether they are customers, colleagues, vendors or neighbors. Go out and ask how you and your team are doing and then listen listen listen to the answers. Record them all, don’t try to respond to any critiques at the time, but just gather the data and let people know you will be using that info to make improvements in how your team operates.

Documentation/Organization Day: Let’s face it – most of us don’t have all the documentation we should have on how our team operates. If you win the lottery and move to Hawaii tomorrow, how seamless will the transition be? Once per month or once per quarter, have a day where everyone writes up at least one key process they do. Review and organize what you have in place, identify places where your documentation is lacking, archive old stuff, and generally clean up.

Thank You Day: Once in a while take the time to consciously say Thank You to some of the people that might not have heard it enough. Thank the receptionist who deals with all the telemarketers. Thank the first tier IT support folks who take calls from grouchy people with computer problems all day. Thank anyone who helps you get your job done even though they don’t work directly for you. Try to have a lot of Thank You days.

What kind of scheduled days do you include in your routine? What do you set aside time for, even if it’s not a whole day?

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