A Simple Calendar Hack To Thrive In COVID Times

author
By Mo Bunnell

What's On My Mind

A little planning goes a long way.

The other day, I had a major a-ha moment talking to my friend and fellow author/trainer Cyril Peupion.​

I had always been hung up on the idea of a Perfect Week. Some people call it an Ideal Week.

​Roughly, it's a plan for every hour of every day mapped out so you can work the way you want.

​I'm sure this can work for some people. But for me...

How the heck can I plan for a perfect week?

Every week is so different for me.

​Travel.

Leading sessions and meetings across worldwide time zones. Some days start early, some end late.

​And the urgent things that pop up!

​Whenever I heard about a Perfect Week, I would think...there's no way I can do X thing at Y time on Z day every week into the future.

My perfect week failed before it began.

But good news...

Cyril set me straight.

He showed me that the important thing about a Perfect Week isn't about samenessthe work version of Taco Tuesdays.

It's about fitting in your priorities.

Feeling like you're winning.

I'll tell you the big change I made below.

​And, more importantly, how you can make it for yourself.

Of course, in three simple steps.

What We Just Created

We've had some killer episodes of the podcast the last few weeks!

​First, Sandy Lutton.

​I've worked with Sandy for over a decade across three organizations, from big accounting to a speaker's bureau.

She's amazing at proactive relationship building.

See THIS episode for how she defines business development. Stick around to the end for how she built a powerful Value Group, bringing CFOs together in a way that helped everyone and landed her and her firm big business.

See THIS one for an inspirational story Sandy shared about perseverance, knowing your value, negotiation and building a proposal together with a client (IKEA Effect!) in a competitive bidding situation.

And THIS one if you're interested in consistent personal improvement, always getting better at BD and great at growth.

​Then...there was Kevin Clem!

Kevin is Chief Commercial Officer at HBR Consulting and one of the most dynamic people I've ever met.

​(Not many people look for chances to sing at internal meetings. Kevin does.)

All five of his episodes were fantastic, but this one is truly unique.

Watch THIS if you've ever wanted to scale GrowBIG Training or The Snowball System across your firm.​

Kevin has a deep change management background, and in this episode, he shares how he got HBR's deeply technical and insightful experts to focus more on proactive growth activities.

Let's Rev It Up!

​Sandy and Kevin crushed all their episodes.

All are highly recommended.

Start with those four. And if you like them you'll see six more!

What's Worth Lingering On

So how did I implement a version of Perfect Week that works with crazy schedules?

​By mashing up Cyril's excellent book, Work Smarter Live Better with some habit based content from GrowBIG Training, we came up with the concept of...

Move Don't Delete.

​(Honestly, this is more Cyril's stuff than mine, but I think I came up with the name.)

What's Move Don't Delete? MDD?

It's the shorthand I now have in my calendar for a certain type of calendar entry.

MDD is the work I know I'll have to do each week in the future, but I can be flexible on when it's done.

Examples:

​Let's pick some random week. Say it's 17 weeks from now.

Using the examples above, I know I need about 20 hours that week to have a "perfect week."

I don't care when those things happen. They just need to happen.

​Here's an important insight.

I can tell you what disaster will look like 17 weeks out.

Disaster is if I get to that week, my calendar is fully booked, and I only have four hours to do that 20 hours of work.

Not good.

​If that happens, I won't get to some important work things, which massively drains my energy.

I'll feel like I'm letting others down.

I'll feel like I'm letting myself down.

​I won't exercise like I want during the week.

​I'll need nights and weekends to do the "not calendared" MDD work.

​And you know when I've experienced a week like that?

​It's not one week.

It's almost all of last year.

I don't know about you, but COVID has led to more back-to-back meetings–less white space. No MDD time!​

Planning MDD time would have been smart before COVID, but I think I was accidentally saved by hotel and plane time.

It was the positive side of racking up 1.5 million miles on Delta over the last few years. I had routine white space time to work on planes and in hotel rooms each week.

(Side note: I like not traveling a lot more than traveling!)

I need to be much more planful in the COVID world.

I'm grateful I've been able to chat with Cyril about these things. I've got a worldwide time management expert in my corner.

​Travel is picking back up. We've got countless in-person training and speaking events scheduled this year. The whole team is super busy. So fun.

But even so...

​My biggest planning breakthrough is MDD time.

​I've mapped out my entire 2022 of MDD. It only took about 45 minutes using recurring meetings as a baseline.

That's the best planning time I've ever done.

So...

What's your weekly rhythm?

​How much MDD time do you need?

​Here are some buckets to think about, adding in Snowball System and GrowBIG rituals that I skipped over above because I already had them in my calendar.

(For more on annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly BD rituals, see Module 17 of GrowBIG Training and the Conclusion of Snowball System–TONS in both!)

Reactive:

Proactive:

​Three simple steps to implement:

  1. Write down the MDD buckets of time you need above.​
  2. Pick the number of hours and cadence each need. Example: 30 minutes of email triage + processing each weekday morning from 8 to 8:30.​
    Don't overthink it–you can always adjust as you go.
    Just get started.​
  3. Put these into your calendar as recurring meetings for all of 2022 and start each with the abbreviation MDD.

For me, step three was the hardest for the next few weeks because I had to shoehorn MDD time into a very busy schedule. It got easier farther out.

Step three only took about 45 minutes to plan out the entire year.

​Boom! I felt exhilarated when I finished.

​And now those MDDs are out there. Scheduled.

If something comes up, my team or I can move these time blocks, but we can't delete them.​

MDD!

That'll make sure I stay sane this year.

Whew!​

I'm not sure what to call this little hack.

Perfect Week sounds too whoo whoo to me.

Don't Die Weekly Planning sounds too bleak.

​Let me know if you have a better name. I'm not sure what to call it.

​But I am sure of is this.

​There's a rhythm to the things we can't plan.

​Most people don't have a calendar entry to answer some important emails three Thursdays from now.

​But we know it'll come.

So let's plan for it.

Mo

​ps. Special thanks to Cyril for this idea. If you want to dig into his content more, check out his book Work Smarter Live Better or his website and weekly videos HERE. His weekly plan download on the front page of his website goes deeper than what I shared above. Great template!