I live and die by my Google Calendar. One way to look at it is, if it doesn't show up on my Google Calendar, it doesn't exist! I fall in the camp of liking to have everything scheduled on my Google Calendar, which includes things that are not meetings or appointments. I have blocks of time set aside for strategic thinking, reading, exercising, and even sleeping. Having my calendar blocked out helps keep me focused, on-task, and gives me a good resource to look back at if I ever need to see what I was doing at any point in the past.
Like many others, my calendar is comprised of a lot of meetings, and it is pretty mind boggling if you ever tally up how many meetings you have a year. While meetings with others in order to keep projects running smoothly are very important, it is actually the meetings I schedule with myself that are the most important.
434 meetings, to be exact
Yep, that's right, I book myself for 434 individual meetings each year. It might sound overwhelming, and perhaps a complete waste of time, but I assure you there is a lot of value in these meetings. These are the meetings that define my days, weeks, months, and even years to come. Here are how the meetings breakdown and how they are structured.
5 different types of meetings make up the 434 total
The different types of meetings I schedule with myself are mostly based on when they are held, and in some cases, the theme/topic. These 434 meetings are broken down into:
I will start from the top and work down to explain why I have the meetings and what I look to achieve.
Every day, usually from 7:30-7:45 in the morning, I have a daily stand up meeting. I review my calendar, make adjustments where necessary, figure out what my most important tasks of the day are, etc. These are very quick meetings, that have a hard stop after 15 minutes. These meetings are very tactical in nature, not consisting at all of any type of strategy or longer term planning. The day at hand is the only thing on the radar. All told, this is 365 of the 434 meetings with myself, and I never miss a day.
Those of you who are familiar with the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology will recognize this meeting right away. This is basically my “Weekly Review” time, and I pretty much follow the agenda David Allen outlines in his GTD book. First I process all my inboxes, organize to-do items, review my calendar backwards one week and ahead one week, update financial records, pay bills, plan out each day for the week ahead as much as possible, etc. This weekly meeting takes place each Sunday, sometimes in the morning but usually later in the evening. The meeting has a hard stop after one hour.
As soon as possible (usually within the first five days) after a month comes to an end, I schedule an hour-long meeting with myself to wrap up the previous month. I look at achievements from the last month, put a bow on the financials, and make sure I am on course with my goals for the year. Because my weekly meetings on Sundays are so well planned, coordinated, and executed, the monthly meeting does not take long and really is just a summary. This meeting is capped at one hour, no more.
Since my fiscal year runs from September to August, here is how my yearly quarters breakdown:
1st Quarter: September 1 - November 30
2nd Quarter: December 1 - February 28
3rd Quarter: March 1 - May 31
4th Quarter: June 1 - August 31
At the end of each one of these quarters, I schedule a three-hour meeting to review all my big projects and goals. This is where I make course corrections as needed and start looking out to further down the road. Also, like companies do on a quarterly basis, I like to roll the last three months financials into one view, especially since monthly spending and income can fluctuate, a quarterly view can sometimes be more telling of trends. Because gathering quarterly data can be a bit more work, I usually try and schedule these meetings within the first 15 days after a quarter comes to a close. These meetings can go no longer than three hours.
One of the 434 meetings I have with myself each year is done yearly. It occurs on a single day and lasts five hours, no more, no less. It occurs after my fiscal year is finished, which is on August 31st. So this yearly meeting is the closest available day I can book to September 30th each year. During this five hour meeting, I look back to everything I achieved over the past 12 months, both personally and professionally. I look at my finances, house projects, work projects, relationships, etc. It is a complete look at the year gone by. Successes and shortcomings are documented and the year is closed out.
434 meetings, 172 hours
I know how 434 meetings in one year sounds like a lot, but the value I get out of them, as well as how well I have them structured, makes them a must have. As far as the actual time commitment, here is a quick look at the numbers…
There are 8,760 hours in a year. Subtract out 2,190 hours I spend sleeping, and then the 2,000 hours of work, and I have 4,570 hours left. All my 434 meetings with myself take a max total of just over 172 hours a year. That comes out to being just a little over 3% of my total available waking hours. 3%, that's it. When you look at it like that, it seems like such a small investment towards staying on track and achieving my goals.
Anyone else there book meetings with themselves? I would love to hear how you schedule and structure them, so please drop your thoughts in the comments below!