I have discovered that there is some degree of productivity training necessary in virtually every kind of management and leadership coaching I do. Coaching is about helping people achieve their goals, and along the way we cultivate good productivity habits. If we are successful, new goal-achieving habits merge into a trusted work system: Newer, different goals will be set in the future, but the productivity system which we customize to the way a person works best remains the same. It becomes habitual and instinctual for them.

I have also discovered that the single best productivity tool we all share is one we take too much for granted: Our Calendar.

It doesn’t matter if you prefer low tech paper calendars or high tech electronic ones. The one that’s best for you is the one

    you are most comfortable with using
    and you are fastest at using
    so you use it more consistently.

Virtually everything you do gets captured in it, and so you can see the twists and turns your days, weeks and months can take.

What’s important is the habit of using it to capture your whole-life productivity, not just what you do at work. There is only one of you, and you can only be in one place at a time, so why have two calendars in two different places?

If you are to be optimally productive, you have to take advantage of being able to get things done at the right time and in the right place. If you are to be optimally productive with goal achievement, you have to have intentional focus on your goals wherever you may be when opportunity strikes. Your calendar captures those opportunities.

There are two basic functions associated with your calendar when you harness it as the best productivity tool you can have. However most of us only use the first function and not the second:

1. First, you capture all the ways you will fill your time proactively. As your appointments and other commitments are set, you fill in the blocks of unallocated time with allocations associated with the project work that will help you achieve your goals. You plan.

2. Second, when the week is over, you look back and evaluate what happened, and how you can correct any glitches. It is this habit of doing a weekly review which we too often neglect, not giving ourselves the opportunity to learn our own lessons of when and how we work best, and when we don’t.

It takes self-discipline to evaluate your calendar on a weekly basis and turn it into a productivity tool versus a log-book which is data rich but never utilized. Give your calendar the attention it deserves, and I guarantee you will discover it to be the willing servant it was meant to be for you.

Related article: Loving my Weekly Review

Rosa Say, author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. Rosa is founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Coaching Persistence.

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