Use your calendar to mange your priorities

In this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast, Chip and Gini discuss the importance of using your calendar to set, manage, and achieve your priorities.

The most scarce resource in any agency is the owner’s time. How you spend it is one of the best indicators of your likely success.

Chip Griffin 

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m Chip Griffin,

Gini Dietrich 

and I’m Gini Dietrich.

Chip Griffin 

And we’re happy that we’ve gotten some time on your calendar today because we know your calendar is important. And that’s what we’re going to talk about, right after this. You know, as my intros go, that one was not too bad. That one was not too far off.

Gini Dietrich 

If you say so.

Chip Griffin 

Wow. So that’s how we’re gonna go here today, I guess?

Gini Dietrich 

Isn’t that how we go every week?

Chip Griffin 

I suppose so. But I can hope I can dream, Jimmy that one day with deep respect,

Gini Dietrich 

never going to happen. Never gonna happen. Never.

Chip Griffin 

Okay, well, it is what it is. But we will not waste any more of our listeners time because we are talking about your calendar today. Because your calendar is something that really helps to control your agency’s success. And not necessarily in the way that you may think. And there’s more that you can do about it proactively than perhaps you’re even thinking about today.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, I’m a big, big, big, big, big, big, big fan of blocking time on your calendar and using your calendar to your advantage. I am not a fan of other people dictating the calendar. And I have had in, in my agency’s life, I’ve had three assistants. And every one of them has said, Can I please control your calendar? Like No, you cannot control my calendar. Because the second I and I have tried, I’ve tried but the second I give up control to somebody else. Things slip in or things get moved. And things that are important to me things like deep work or strategic planning or working out, I put that on my calendar, like those kinds of things get moved, because the assistant will be like, Oh, well, she can do that later. And they’ll move it for a client and then all of a sudden that stuff that you actually need to do doesn’t get done because your your your calendars full of meetings.

Chip Griffin 

Right. Yeah, I mean, I have had similar challenges with assistants over the years, I’ve, I think I’ve said on the podcast before I used to be Murphy Brown with assistants, I would just you know cycle through them. There was a clear mismatch between what I was looking for and what I actually hired. So it was odd me. But I did have one assistant who was very good and and did a tremendous job at, you know, making sure that I was not in three different cities at once. Because yes, there’s one point when she was my assistant that I did a little bit of my own scheduling. And I had managed to put myself to be in three different cities on the exact same day

Gini Dietrich 

and the exact same time.

Chip Griffin 

Yeah, so at that point, she took away my privileges to my own calendar, and she shared yet you can’t do that. And actually, my wife ended up appreciate it because my wife would then just go to her put things on my, my calendar. And first she didn’t like that I said, you know, if you really want to make sure I’m there, tell my assistant. Why. And then then it started to work and love it is because they conspired together to show up great dribble I was being asked to go to. But the but the challenge that I had was that as great as that particular assistant was, she didn’t have a sense as to what other work I was doing. And so I was I, she did a great job of making sure that everybody who wanted a meeting got a meeting. Unfortunately, she made sure that everybody wanted to meet and got a meeting. And so I would I think at one point, I had 20 meetings in one day, and I’m like, Oh, that’s just that’s not gonna, you know, I’d be booked to a lunch and then I would be booked to be somewhere else. You know, right afterwards. I’m like, I can’t just vaporize. Like, I gotta have time to get in the cab and get back to the office. I gotta have time to use the restroom. Yes, little things like this. So yes, we worked on it. But it is it is challenging when you have someone else do it. And I think now, for many years, I was like you I control my calendar directly. And it was good because I could really modulate how I was doing meetings. And I, you know, if I had one draining meeting, I wasn’t gonna have another one that I would schedule right after, right things like that. Because you should be thinking about those kinds of things and making sure that there are certain meetings you want to be particularly fresh for. I’ve since switched over to using calendly which is great. It saves all sorts of back and forth. The only downside to it is you can’t apply that level of judgment because if that block is open on your schedule, then someone can take it and so you can’t less thoughtful about what kind of thing you want in that spot. You can just say that spots there.

Gini Dietrich 

Yep. Yeah. So I I’ve actually tried calendly and I’ve tried scheduled ones as well and for me, it just it just doesn’t, it might very well be that I’m too controlling but it just doesn’t work because I am I know But for me, it’s it’s very much a, I do exactly what you just said, I’ll look at the week and I’ll go, Okay, I know I need to do this, this, this and this. And I know I have to deliver this, this, this and this. So in order to be able to do and I know that I have to do these 510 meetings, whatever happens to be. So in order to do all three of those buckets, here’s how I would like to do it. And I think about it from the perspective of, I’m far more creative and a better writer in the morning. So I use my morning time for no meetings, I don’t do meetings before 10 o’clock in the morning. And then between 10 and two, I’ll do meetings. And then after two o’clock is where I’m taking everything that we discussed in meetings and making sure that it gets delegated or it gets on a task list or you know, it gets in our project management software, or whatever it happens to be, I use that time to be able to do that. And then I use the end of the day to get through email and make sure that I’m prepared for the following day. And that the following days calendar works. And in some cases, I might move certain things around like I might want move my workout around, or I might move, you know, some some deep work kinds of things. If it’s, if I have it from 12 to two, I might move it up to seven to nine or whatever happens to be but I always try to have those blocks on my calendar every day to make sure that I’m I’m as productive as I can be. And I will say that, and we had this conversation in the Spin Sucks community that protecting that time is the hardest part because you will have clients who say, What can I do? The only time I can talk to you is at four o’clock on Friday. I’m sorry, nobody’s talking to me at four o’clock on Friday ever. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you’re the president united states. You’re not talking to me at four o’clock on Friday. It’s not happening.

Chip Griffin 

You wouldn’t talk to me at four o’clock on Friday. I mean,

Gini Dietrich 

Well, it depends on if we’re having martinis or not to be honest.

Chip Griffin 

It’s Friday after like two o’clock in the afternoon. Do not start drinking.

Gini Dietrich 

But I think that you have to be really cognizant of protecting the time once you’ve, you’ve locked it.

Chip Griffin 

wet. Yeah. And I think that, you know, one of the things that you you need to do is figure out what are your non optional things? And never hit the delete key, but always drag them somewhere?

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So

Chip Griffin 

this is one of the things I always encourage. And you know, people know that I’m broken record on the importance of one on ones with all of your direct reports. I’m a big fan on making sure that they’re on the calendar. And if you can’t do it at that particular time, fine, because right, your direct reports should be the easiest ones to move around. Yeah, theoretically, if you need to accommodate something else, but they should be moved. You shouldn’t ever hit the delete key on that. Now there are other things where maybe you can hit the delete key, right? So one of the things I do with my calendars, I actually color coded, you know, those things that are, you know, suggested but not required, those things that are immovable, I’ve got a different color for those things that are out of my house, because there are very few of those. So that’s a bright red. And I want to know that I get out. stuff. Yeah. Fortunately, there are not very many of those.

Gini Dietrich 

Well, and I would even say like, I mean, especially on the red ones, you have to accommodate for travel time, too. So

Chip Griffin 

Oh, yeah, I always put that in I Oh, yeah, you have to travel to travel from I put a cushion in I mean, in fact, I was just scheduling a doctor’s visit today. And you know, a couple months out and I put you know, travel and he just never know because doctors do not respect anyone else’s calendar

Gini Dietrich 

they do not

Chip Griffin 

like it is incredibly irritating to me. Which I know you find difficult to believe,

Gini Dietrich 

do you find that difficult to believe you have all people. So when we keep for our listeners, we keep a running document of topic ideas. And this topic I do, we looked at it from the perspective of how to use your calendar proactively to your advantage to achieve your goals. And what you wrote in here was set aside time for important tasks, block out deep work times and absolutely no meetings, schedule your time off book one on ones, arrange your schedule to the way you work best. So writing in the morning and meetings in the afternoon, which is how I do it, for instance, and workouts and things like that. So anything that you know that you need to accomplish, I have a client who is so good at it that she actually looks at it and she’ll go Okay, from nine to 10. I’m working on client a from 10 to 11. I’m working on client B and and she sets her timer and she works on that client and she gets as much as she can done in that time. And then she goes on to the next one and that she is that meticulous about it. So you know certainly there are ways that you can use your calendar to your advantage that work for you. You don’t have to be that meticulous. You don’t have to do it the way that I do it. You don’t have to do it the way Chip does it. But definitely think about how to use your calendar practically into your advantage.

Chip Griffin 

When I think that’s the you need to understand yourself and how you work right. So just as you said, you know, you don’t take meetings before 10am and, you know, I’ve always been an early morning writer That’s Yeah, that’s what I like to write. I try to think through how I’m most productive with different portions of the day and tailor my schedule to that. So, you know, I know that in the afternoon when I start to lose focus a little bit. So in those cases, I like to schedule meetings, because it forces you to focus. Yep. And so if you do things like that, you can maximize your productivity. Some people are different, though, some people want to get their meetings out of the way. And, and, you know, maybe they want them all in the morning and then move on to something else. And of course, some of this will depend on your client base to right here. If you’re, you know, if you’re based in Hawaii, and all your clients are in Europe, you’re going to have to have a different schedule,

Gini Dietrich 

you have to work overnight, probably right.

Chip Griffin 

I have clients, you know, I need to be a little bit accommodating that kind of thing. Yep. And they in turn, some of them have clients in on the west coast of the US. So that really starts to dictate your schedule, when you’ve got an eight hour time difference. Yeah. And so all of those things, factor into it. But you need to figure out what works for you what works for your team, what works for your client base. And if you do, then you can be much more strategic, because that’s how you start driving your own success. It’s not if you let other forces direct how your day is going to be spent going back to how we talked about a systems before, if you allow it to be clients, or prospects, or vendors or team members, and you’re not doing it strategically and proactively, you’re missing a huge opportunity, because your time is the only thing you can’t get more of.

Gini Dietrich 

Unfortunately, as much as we have tried, I have tried to get more time on my own time. But unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.

Chip Griffin 

It does not work that way it is it is the most limited resource in an agency and it is the biggest driver, restrictor of growth. How the owner spends their time.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah. And I think so I was I was scrolling through Facebook the other night, and there was a video from a guy who advises agency owners and it’s, you know, you and I’ve had this conversation, but it’s one of those people who does things where you just kind of roll your eyes, you’re like, Okay, whatever. Like that’s not it doesn’t work in real life. And you’ve never actually run an agency, but Okay, go out with your bad self. And he was talking about how he never use task lists. And I’m like, so I watched it, because I wanted to see like, what’s this phenomenon that you don’t get? Are you just you just absorb everything and you remember everything. You don’t have to write it down, like what is this phenomenon? And what he was talking about that, and obviously the clickbait work because I I watched it. But what he was talking about is he doesn’t use a task list from the perspective of writing down everything that you need to do every day. But he blocks it on his calendar. And so he is using a task list. He’s just using

Chip Griffin 

it to say, you know, we don’t do timesheets? Well, we just estimate how much time we work on a client.

Gini Dietrich 

That’s a timesheet. And not only that, but if you’re estimating you’re leaving money on the table, but that’s another topic for another

Chip Griffin 

day. But my point is that it’s the same thing, right? So you can delude yourself into thinking that you’re not. And, you know, for folks who, you know, don’t think that they’re they’re planning out their calendar, they are their plan is just chaos. Right. And, you know, one of the things that I started doing in the last couple years, and it was actually based on a conversation that you and I had was I started just blocking out portions of my schedule for no meetings at all. Yep. So So I now I think you do every Friday I do every Friday afternoon. But you know, it’s it gives me I like it on Friday, because it gives me an opportunity to sort of clean things up before I go. Yeah, weekend.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, that’s I like it too.

Chip Griffin 

You know, I don’t leave anything big. Yep. Generally speaking, hanging over my head. And so that I my schedule is recovery time, technically, on my my calendar so that I could just get caught up on all those little things.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, and I think so I think a couple of things. And when we talk about protecting your time, that’s, that’s true. Like, really protect your time, don’t let the slack messages and the emails and the instant messaging and the text messaging and all of that social media get in the way, I actually turn all of that off during my time to focus so that I don’t get distracted, because I will. And also be just be clear with your team and with your clients. Like I had a conversation with a client yesterday who was like, we need this, this, this and this. And they had me booked in meetings and about eight hours of meetings over the next two days. And I was like, I can do one or the other. I can’t do both. So if you need me to deliver this stuff by Friday afternoon, I can absolutely do that. But I cannot sit in the eight hours of meetings as well. And they were like, nope, you’re good. We’ll take you out of the meetings. We’ll take you off with slack for now. Just get it done. And I was like great, right. So I think they that people understand, as long as you’re clear about why you’re setting that boundary and why you’re protecting the time.

Chip Griffin 

Right, and we have to be careful that we’re not you know, we all want to be responsive to our clients. Absolutely. We’ve talked about how agency people generally speaking are people pleasers. And so when you The client says jump, you say how high Yep, you have to be comfortable with pushing back on clients and saying, okay, is this meeting really necessary? Do I really need right to be in this meeting? No, that time doesn’t work for me. And obviously, there are going to be times where you’re gonna have to make compromises and perhaps, you know, eat into what you would prefer to do at that time, because it really is the only time a particular group of people can get together. But by and large, that’s not the case. And I can tell you that if you had a meeting with another client, you would absolutely say no, to the other client who asked for time, right? You’re not gonna say, Sorry, my other client needs me. I’m out of here.

Gini Dietrich 

Absolutely. Yes, yes. So

Chip Griffin 

if you’re willing to say no to that, yes, then you have to say no to the important non negotiable things that are on your calendar that that aren’t necessarily related to another client. And if you start thinking, that way, you’ll get a lot more control over your calendar, and you can use it more productively,

Gini Dietrich 

that’s a really, really great point and thinking about yourself in your time as a client is a is a really great way of doing it.

Chip Griffin 

Yep. And it’s, you know, it’s, I mean, the other thing you can do, and I can tell you, you know, with calendly, one of the things that I do is I can set up different kinds of meeting types. So while I don’t have the same level of control, if I’m doing the direct scheduling myself, I am able to say, Okay, this is this is the link, I send someone for podcast recordings, this is the link I send for new business opportunity. And so I can I can tailor the availability for those different kinds of appointments. So that, you know, for example, I Know podcast recordings, there are certain times a day, I don’t want to do them for whatever reason. And so when I send the scheduling link, it’s limited to just those times and days of the week, where that’s something that I’m okay with. And so if you start thinking about it, that way, you can use the technology to to shape it, it’s not as granular as you doing it yourself. But for me, it’s worth the trade off, because I don’t have to do that back and forth.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, for sure. For sure. Um, it just made me think of something. Oh, I was gonna say the other thing that that I’ve been doing, and when you when you talk about the different links for the different types of meetings. Before this year, all of my meetings were 60 minutes, and I’ve stopped doing that. And I have said to people, I have 20 minutes at this time, or I have 30 minutes at this time. And I am actually amazed that people will say, Okay, we have three minutes left, let’s get through this really quick. And they stay within that timeframe. When you say to them, I only have 20 minutes at this time. They are great at staying within that time. But when you have an hour, they take the whole hour.

Chip Griffin 

Right now,

should you eat it or not?

Chip Griffin 

It’s almost every meeting I do I send a 30 minute appointment. I only scheduled them on the hour. Yep. So that always gives me the last half of the hour back. Yep. Right. So that I can, it gives me It gives me the option. So if for some reason, I want to continue that meeting for 30 minutes, and the person has time. Right? We can do that. Yep. But it’s within control. Yep. And it’s not butting up right against another appointment. So I know that, you know, because the thing I always hate is, you know, when you’re, you know, it’s, you know, 1159 you’ve got your like clock. Any time? Yeah, for the next week. So yeah, to the extent that I need to do something more than 30 I do 45. Or if I’m doing virtual work sessions, I do 90 because again, that gives me that that cushion, to allow the meeting to run over if it needs to, but more importantly, to give myself back time to work on email to adjust my calendar to grab a snack, whatever it is that I need to do so that I’m not just feeling like I’m, you know, on that hamster wheel.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, that’s a really great point. And I just started doing that this year, because I felt that I felt that way. I was like, literally, and you don’t have time. I have to peel time. So I’m like so I I’m notorious for texting somebody and saying, I’ll be right there. I have to pee fast, like, and then I’m two or three minutes late for the next meeting. Because this meeting ran like right up to and then I had to go to the bathroom like so it’s it’s too stressful. It’s too stressful. I’m too old to be that stressed.

Chip Griffin 

Just know, there’s nothing there. So I’m just smart. That’s what I say,

Gini Dietrich 

man. But

Chip Griffin 

yeah, so So bottom line, you know, look at your calendar, figure out you know what works for you figure out how you want to allocate your time book in the time that you need for the things you need to do to grow your business or the business development time, the team management time, protect those at all costs. And that will allow you to use your most valuable and most limited resource better, which will produce better results for you over the long term 100%

I’m a big, big, big, big fan, big fan.

Chip Griffin 

And with that, even though sometimes we go 30 minutes, we’re giving you 10 minutes back on your calendar today so

Gini Dietrich 

and 10 minutes back on our calendars

Chip Griffin 

The nice thing is that gives you time to write us a nice, handwritten thank you note in appreciation for how respectful we were.

Gini Dietrich 

You don’t have to do

Chip Griffin 

that. But it’d be nice. We like it. On that note,

Gini Dietrich 

I’m Chip Griffin and I’m Gini Dietrich,

Chip Griffin  and it depends.

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