“I like to keep my personal life and professional life separate.” This is a phrase I commonly spoke in my first few years in the professional world. I was so attached to this mantra that I refused to attend the company holiday party or become anything more than casual acquaintances with my colleagues.
After a few years I realized that my strategy was wholly unrealistic. First, I genuinely liked the people I worked with. They were kind and interesting people. Why wouldn’t I want to be friends with them? Second, I’m only one person. While I may behave differently in social and professional contexts, I’m still ME everywhere I go.
In my time as a school and nonprofit leader, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to juggle my personal and professional commitments. As a lifetime devotee to figuring out systems, I established a family calendar for home and a work calendar for my professional obligations.
To me, separate calendars made sense. I wanted to stay laser focused on supporting my team while at work and I wanted to fully unplug from the job and be present with my family while at home. With two separate calendars, I could focus on one priority at a time.
The Problem with Separate Calendars
Unfortunately, I ended up creating scheduling train wrecks more than once by keeping my calendars separate. I would commit to something at work only to later realize that I had planned to devote that time to something in my personal life, or vice versa. I also found myself double documenting things like medical appointments in both places.
One of the worst parts was that I set myself up for failure time and again by telling myself that I had more time available to me than I actually did. Everything took longer than expected and disruptions due to my separate calendars made it worse. I felt pulled, was disappointing people, and doing more work than I needed to.
Switching it up to keep one comprehensive calendar changed everything for me. At first, it felt too jumbled. But then I figured out some systems that helped me make it work.
Color Code Your Calendar
Setting up a color coding system for my calendar made keeping all of my appointments in one place more manageable. I can take a quick glance at my calendar and easily see what type of day or week I have ahead of me.
- Dark Green = I have to drive somewhere for a work related event.
- Light Green = I have to drive somewhere for a personal event.
- Pink = I’m working on internal systems or projects for my business.
- Red = I’m working on projects for clients or project for my business that will be public.
- Orange = I have a call with a client.
- Yellow = I have a call with someone who isn’t a client.
- Grey = All things pertaining to my kiddo.
- Violet = Personal growth, learning, or exercise time.
- Light Blue = I’m flying somewhere.
- White = The glorious glow of freedom from any obligation!
At a glance, I know what’s in store for me and I feel prepared. No double booking possible because everything is in one place.
Use a Scheduling Software
If your leadership role is one in which a lot of people are regularly trying to schedule appointments with you, it’s time to use software to help you. A lot of time is wasted trying to set up meetings, your time is too precious for that.
Are you tired of the back and forth emails trying to figure out a time that works for both of you? Have you had a few snafus where you ended up double-booked while doing a back and forth with more than one person? End the madness and subscribe to a scheduling software.
I use a software called Calendly to have everyone schedule calls with me, from existing clients to people curious about working with me. I even have a special link called “coffee with RB” that I send to friends who reach out and want to catch up!
You can program it to only allow certain types of meetings to occur on certain days. You can eliminate time zone problems because the software does it for you. Finally, you can have people give you a little bit of information up front when they are scheduling the appointment so that you have context for the conversation.
Allow a Little Bit of Overlap in Your Calendar
You are only one person. Your personal and professional lives are components of your singular existence. Keeping these lives separate is impossible…embrace it!
Sometimes you have to come in to work late because you went to the dentist. Sometimes you finish a project at home on a Sunday. The important thing is that you feel like you are in charge of how you use your time. Not that you “have to” do it this way, but that you are choosing it.
Of course, our jobs and the structure of our culture put natural limitations on how we structure the use of our time. But ultimately the goal is that you feel as though your full life is integrated and your are the boss of your time. To me, a simple first step to an integrated life is an integrated calendar.
The next step is working towards my goals in a way that is realistic and sets me up for success.
Are you feeling ready to be more in control of your time and become the boss of your calendar? I can help you make it happen! Join me on Sunday, August 6th at the 2019 Virtual Planning Retreat.
We’ll spend three full hours reflecting on 2018 and visioning 2019. We don’t just stop with the vision, though. We are building a smart, realistic plan to help you reach those goals.
Registration closes soon and seats are limited. Sign up before it’s too late!