April 8, 2021

Summary

When Senior Product Leaders are jumping from call to call all day.

When lunch breaks are a luxury. And bio breaks have to happen with apologies during a call.

Then it's hard to imagine how blocking Focus Time would be of any help.

The issue remains though that the important things, the strategic things, don't move forward from calls alone. Most calls are tactical. Some calls are really valuable. A few calls are unnecessary.

This is such a common issue that the leaders I get to work with are facing. In fact, it is usually the first one that we have to work on before we can get to the good stuff, like massively boosting influence to completely transform stakeholder relationships.

That's why I'm sharing with you today what the three key steps are that I guide them through.

  • You deserve to get your time and energy back.
  • You deserve to be able to think more about the big things that matter.
  • You deserve to enjoy your evenings and weekends again.

Your 3-Step Calendar-Control & Time-Rescue Plan

  1. Delete zombies & exit lurkers
  2. Group calls you control
  3. Block out your Focus Time ... 3-ways!
    1. rest focus: short breaks in between work-sessions, plus a longer break for lunch
    2. reactive focus time: this is when you work through your emails and messages
    3. creative focus time: this is what we've been working towards, now all the communication points are covered in the calendar, we have time set aside for high-level thinking, planning, creative problem solving, and strategy development.

Watch the Video


Listen to the Audio


Quote Cards


Listen on Spotify

Coming soon...


Full Transcript

- "What they say about blocking out focus time in order to free up time in your calendar is just wrong. You know, when senior product leaders are jumping from call to call all day, and when lunch breaks are a luxury and bio breaks happen with apologies during a call, something's not quite right. And it's also hard to imagine how blocking focus time would be of any help. And that's why it hasn't really been working for you if you ever try blocking out focus time in your diary. 

There are a few things missing, and that's why the basic advice of blocking out focus time is just plain wrong. The issue remains though, that the most important things, you know, the strategic things, they don't move forward from calls alone. When you're hopping from call to call, most of your calls aren't strategic, right? They are very tactical. You kind of firefighting in many cases even, and that's not really sustainable. And some of these calls, you might find, are even unnecessary right? 

So, and yet we're caught in that rhythm of hopping from call to call. And every once in a while, you might get curious and look out there and see what can I do to break the cycle? What can I do to actually get my time back? And then you see advice like, yeah, you just need to block out focus time. That's not really helping, and it's just wrong because it's not everything that you need to do in order to get your time back. 


So these issues that you're facing, they are very common issues amongst the leaders that I get to work with, that I get to coach.

 And in fact, it is so common, that it even is actually the gatekeeper to the more important work that you get to do on really improving their impact as leaders in product development organisations. And because it's such a common thing, I wanted to share today with you what the three key steps are that I guide them through every single time. And with this three-step system, you actually have something that can work for you too, something where you then at the end of every day, you can actually finish a little bit earlier, you can finish at a reasonable time. 

At the end of the day, you also have some energy left so that you can recover, or rest, or catch up over a book or a favorite TV program, whatever it might be. You might want to catch up with friends and family, the choice is yours, but you actually have the time to do that and you also have the energy to do that. And what's more, with following these three steps, you will also finally be able to make some progress on your strategic initiatives again, right? So you actually get much more feeling of having something accomplished at the end of the day, and in fact, at the end of every week, right? So in order to be able to accomplish this, and because you deserve to make these time shifts also, right, you deserve to get your time and energy back, and you deserve to be able to think about bigger things at the time. In fact, your company probably pays you to do some strategic work and some bigger level leadership work that you need to do there. And you deserve, of course, to enjoy evenings and weekends, right? So here are the three steps that you can take in order to finally nail this and get this done. 


The first thing is, I want you to open your diary and I want you to go hunting for zombies and lurkers. 

Zombies are those types of events that you kept in there just in order to get a bit of a break from things, but you don't actually attend, right? I want you to get rid of those. The other one are for you to exit lurkers. The lurkers are those sessions and calls that you actually don't really need to be in. For some reason or another, you're still in there, but you don't need to be in them, okay? So I want you to find those and work out how to exit those meetings, who needs to know about it, who needs to take over the meetings, and how can you phase yourself out? 

Okay, great. So, now we're moving on to step two. Next thing you need to do is group calls together so that you don't have a call and a non-call, call, non-call, call, non-call. Because overall, you have more time available already by following step one. So I want you to group those calls that you can control and move them somewhere in your diary so that you can free up bigger chunks of time so that you can have time for focus time. But, here's the key trick. 

Focus time is not just focus time, and that will be step three. Before we get to step three, if you actually want to get a lot more detail, go all in on rescuing your time and taking control back of your calendar, I've put together something for you that you can check out at calendarmagic.eu. That's calendarmagic.eu, calendarmagic, one word, .eu. Go there, and you'll get a lot more detail on how you can actually apply some magic to your calendar, get some time back, and get your calendar back under control. 

Now, step number three that you need to do, is to now block out time in your calendar, focus time, three ways. Focus is not like focus. First of all, you need rest focus, okay? So in between calls, for example, you need to take 5 minutes, 10 minutes, so your brain and your eyes and everything else gets a bit of a break from things. You will feel the difference at the end of the day. Also, rest focus is lunch breaks. You need your lunch breaks at the middle of the day so that you can actually get a break from things. Everybody needs a lunch break, you do too. Get it in there, you'll feel better at the end of the day, once again. The second type of focus time is reactive focus time. So that is when you actually block time to respond to messages and emails, rather than at the beginning of the day or sporadically throughout, or even on being some of those lurker calls where you don't really need to be there, all right? So I want you to block that time out, yeah, that is your reactive focus time. And last but not least, what you've been working towards is creative focus time, all right? 

So block out times in your diary when you can then actually make some progress and create some strategy, some strategic output, some creative output, some groundbreaking next level of thinking that your company needs and has actually got you for, right? What's the next stage for your people in a product department? What's the next stage for your portfolio? Is there a strategy there?


There are all of those wonderful things that your brain has been wanting to get done for some time but you haven't because you've kept being stuck in the call, to call, to call hopping mode. 

So with these three steps, I am hoping that you will have the same level of success that my coaching clients have. That is what you need in order to break out of it and finish the days an hour to three hours earlier. To also get to the end of the day with more energy left and enjoy the weekends again. And finally, make some more progress on a more strategic level rather than always being stuck in tactical meetings, right? So that's what's waiting for you by following these three steps. 

Now, if you liked what I've covered in this video, time to watch the next one. Right here are the next videos, you can take a watch, all right? Check them out, check them out. All right, watch the next video right there, and thanks. Bye."


==end of transcript==

Thanks for reading this article!

Who in your networks might find it useful? 

Please kindly share it with them ...

About the author 

Georg Fasching

A leadership team development specialist, International Coach Federation - Professional Certified Coach, with global product management experience since 2000, employing Agile & Lean since 2010, Georg Fasching guides leadership teams to delighting their clients, fulfil their people, and improve their prosperity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Hone your Product Craft, Coaching Craft, and Leadership Craft with 

weekly videos & Live Streams.