Strategies for Managing your time and boundaries

By Kate Lee

“Don’t be pulled around by your calendar. Own it.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average workday in the United States has increased by 40% and time spent in meetings has increased by almost 30%. In addition to increased demands at work, people are also facing increased demands on their time “outside” of work, increased stress and anxiety due to uncertainty, and many are living with blurred boundaries between work and home. At the same time, with nowhere to go and much to adjust to, many people have canceled not just their travel reservations, but their time off as well.

The complexities and systemic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic have made managing time and boundaries more challenging than ever.

Tim Wentworth, President Cigna Services, cites vigilant time management as one of the keys to his success as the leader of a major organization. “Time is the one non-renewable resource you have,” as Tim puts it. “And when you waste it, you don’t get it back.”

“Manage your energy, balancing periods of high output with rest, relaxation, and recuperation.”

The following is an excerpt from “The Core 4: Harness Four Core Business Drivers to Accelerate Your Organization.”

[Tim Wentworth] advises leaders to be disciplined about their personal calendars, allocating the right amount of time to varying constituents. In other words, if you decide you want to spend 25 percent of your time in contact with customers, then your calendar should reflect that commitment. Tim calls it a perfect calendar week when he looks back and finds that he spent his time the way he intended to. Perfection doesn’t happen all the time, of course. But being disciplined about how you use time, that rare resource, can help you achieve your professional (and personal) goals. It’s also important to coach your team about time and calendar management, because if you’re the only one focusing on it, you’re not moving the needle on efficiency.

Tim doesn’t differentiate between his personal and work calendars. At a certain level of leadership and responsibility, these become very blended, and your day isn’t going to be split into neat categories. So engage your family, your partner, and others to look ahead 90 days—that way you can be present when and where you decide to be.

Here are some other strategies from Tim:

  • Don’t be pulled around by your calendar, own it.
  • Look at every item on your calendar and ask whether you really need to do it, or if someone else would add more value.
  • Try to shorten a meeting with advance preparation—or eliminate it entirely if the work can be accomplished without meeting.
  • Pivot to what’s important, not just what seems urgent.

And here’s one that’s really important, and often challenging for great leaders: Manage your energy, balancing periods of high output with rest, relaxation, and recuperation.


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