Don’t Let the Colors Touch
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

It’s Friday evening, and I am sitting at my desk writing my weekly post that should have gone to Marisa earlier this week. I also have a newsletter article that needs to be written by the close of business on Monday, and my Monday calendar is a mess. The colors are all touching, and I knew better. My meetings, commitments, and deadlines are all tangled together, and I need to unravel them.

Last August, I had the privilege of listening to Juliet Funt talk about her book, A Minute to Think. According to Juliet, we need to “Regain control of our overloaded, caffeinated, inbox-worshiping workday.” My problem is that I pack more into my schedule than I can effectively get done. I move from back-to-back-to-back meetings and think I am actually accomplishing something. In reality, I am doing just the minimum to keep the plates spinning until some unforeseen event has them dropping. Some of you who have been reading my musings for several years will remember when I wrote about carrying two tons of fertilizer in a one-ton truck. Well, I guess I haven’t learned my lesson, and I am once again covered in fertilizer. According to Juliet, I should never let the colors touch.

When we look at our daily calendars, the events should never touch each other because we need time between meetings to process what happened and plan for the next task or event. We don’t need a lot of time; just 10 to 15 minutes will do. The break allows our brains to catch up and reset. We can review our notes and action items from the meeting. It also allows us to look at obligations or deadlines we have ahead of time, rather than when Outlook tells us they are due. Virtual meetings can make things worse because we can (seemingly) seamlessly move from meeting to meeting without getting out of our chairs.

You might be asking how Juliet fits in the extra time and how she recommends implementing this change. The answer is, she shortens a meeting by five to seven minutes. Let’s face it: most meetings have a little extra time added to them. Just use that time as a buffer between meetings.

In full transparency, adding buffer time between meetings wouldn’t have fixed my writing issue, but it would have made the rest of the week more peaceful and productive. Let’s see if I can find a solution to my writing dilemma before next week’s post. Until then, I’ll be practicing adding a bit more buffer into my day—and I hope you will too.