Two weeks ago I was at a crossroads. I have always prided myself on a semblance of work life balance and feel like I am very effective during the workday. I cross things off my to do list, I don't sit under a mountain of paperwork, I return phone calls (for those of you that are not employed by a foundation, I swear these things are revolutionary). But the last couple weeks were different. My email in box was overflowing (it seemed like every item in there needed about 3 hours of strategic thinking to make a decision), my normally clean office was covered in piles of papers, and I was eating sour cream and cheese chips out of the vending machine for lunch as I was driving to another meeting. The bags under my eyes were making my staff nervous and I think I looked like I was on the edge of a hide under my desk breakdown. So much for balance.
Luckily I have a great coach, who asks common sense questions that I get too busy to ask myself. Her question was "why did I let my schedule get so crazy?". That gentle reminder that my schedule is not the boss of me was all I needed to get back on track. So here are the four things that have given me my sanity back and ensured that my hair does not all fall out:
1) I set aside an hour at the end of each day to clean out my emails and handle all the paper on my desk,
2) I set aside one and a half hour blocks every other day for uninterrupted strategic thinking,
3) I set aside time for lunch each day. I may decide to have a lunch meeting those days but I will always have time to eat, and
4) I am saying no to meetings that I would normally say yes to out of obligation or fear of missing something good.
What do you do to keep your schedule on track?