Why My Best Day is the Day I Plan Nothing

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If you were to look at my Outlook Calendar, two things would stand out.

First of all, from Monday to Thursday you’d find that I schedule everything. Everything! I work ruthlessly to align my daily calendar with my highest priorities, and I’ve learned that for me, if I don’t pro-actively drop my ‘big rocks’ into my calendar well in advance, then a whole bunch of lesser priorities will simply work their way into my day.

But then you’d notice that Fridays are very different. This has been an experiment I’ve been working on for about a year, and so far I really like the results.

My Fridays are basically wide open. I book nothing and accept no appointments, meetings, phone calls, etc.

My goal is to spend no less than 20% of my work week on long-term vision and strategy. And I’ve found that if I don’t carve out this time on Friday my attention will naturally gravitate towards operational issues. Without my Friday strategy I might start the week hoping that I’ll find time to focus on the long term, but inevitably the weekend will roll around and I’ll look back and find that the tyranny of the urgent had overtaken me yet again.

So now I come into the office on Friday fired up about a full day devoted to a time window of about 18 to 36 months out. This can include:

  • Relationship building
  • Research
  • Strategy work
  • Personal development

What it excludes is any activity whose results would be found within the current year. Such work is operational, and I’ve given myself four days a week to play in that sandbox.

In your leadership world, and with your particular wiring, you may find a different way to accomplish this. But the discipline of long term thinking is very important, however you make it work.

How do you maintain a balance between operational priorities and long-term thinking?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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