Are women’s work calendar’s blocking their success?

Research from Microsoft proves that our brains need breaks. The study was clear, back-to-back meetings can decrease your ability to focus and engage. While we intuitively probably knew that, it’s good to see the decrease in mental efficacy actually proven. But it’s also pretty disturbing when contrasted with this study from Stanford University and the University of Gothenburg showing that women tend to have more and longer meetings than men. Are women being held back by their calendars?

In a WFH set up, without a commute or an office, you need to use your schedule as a building, a scaffolding to tell you what to do when. Otherwise, your time bleeds, you work longer hours than ever, likely with diminishing returns on productivity, and your emotional health suffers. As a manager, this is not the behavior you want to model.

6 Tips for the Best Schedule of your Life

  • Start with your natural rhythms. Use a tracker and figure out when you’re most focused on solo work, when you’re most ready to chat and brainstorm with colleagues, and when you really need to take a moment to recharge. Look at your calendar with this in mind, you can even go so far as creating a private calendar only you can see mapped against these moods to better schedule your days. Then use this to map out blocks of time where you’d prefer to have deep focus time, meeting time, and personal time.

  • Practice great meeting hygiene. Set the default of your calendar to be shorter meetings. Can you get the information you need to get across done in 20 minutes? Aim for the shortest possible. And always use agendas. Short meetings are only possible if everyone comes prepared. This is great in a hybrid workforce, we should all have more time for focused, solo work, where we can prepare for our meetings in advance. And lastly, assign roles. Every meeting needs a chair and a note taker, to make sure you stay on track and end with action items that are clear to everyone.

  • Fake meetings. Yes, this is a little sneaky. But if you have a meeting that tends to run on and on with endless chit chat, it’s ok to create a fake meeting directly afterwards or even halfway through to be able to confidently say, “I need to go now, let’s get down to business and walk away with the action items or decisions we need from this time together.”

  • Map out your personal time in advance. What are your mandatory family and social commitments? And what are the things you’d like to do? This goes along with your natural rhythm as far