You are your calendar.

Andy Robinson over at Career Success Partners put up a great video by Tom Peters called “You Are Your Calendar.” Peters is legendary (infamous?) for his long and winding Powerpoint presentations, but this is a wonderfully succinct video (2:28), that’s as direct as could be.

Peters says that

“There is only one asset that you have and that asset is your time.

[Imagine you're a boss of a distribution center and] you say that this is the year of extraordinary attention to quality. Then at the end of the first month, I sit down with you and we go through your monthly calendar day-by-day and hour-by-hour. And we discover that with all the meetings that occur and all the surprises that come up in the course of that month you spent 6 hours directly on the quality issue.

Well, guess what: quality is not your top priority.

The calendar never, ever, ever lies.

If you say something is a priority, then it must be quantitatively reflected in the calendar.”

I’ve harped on this point many times before on this blog (here, here, and here, for starters): the calendar is the best tool you have to allocate your scarcest and most valuable resource: your time and attention. From a lean perspective, the calendar also enables you to level the load of work. And finally, diligent use of the calendar makes it possible to engage in PDCA — without the calendar, you can’t “Check,” and therefore you have no way to Adjust.

I’ve been working recently with an administrative group at a major medical center. They complain that there’s not enough time in the day to handle all their incoming work, and yet they have no idea where their day goes. (Which is to say, they have no idea where they spend their time and attention.) They get steamrolled by the tyranny of the urgent, and they neglect to spend time on what (is ostensibly) their real value-creating activities.

“The calendar never, ever, ever, lies.” All you need to do is give it a voice by using your calendar diligently for all your work. You may be surprised at what it tells you.

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  1. Articles on Continuous Improvement says:

    [...] new gizmo, when there are many “old fashioned” techniques that are better, faster, and cheaper.You are Your Calendar (Dan Markovitz):[Imagine you're a boss of a distribution center and] you say that this is the year [...]

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