1st Principle Group


Gospel-centered counseling, coaching, and training

Essentialism: Using Google Calendar for Time Management

How are you maximizing Google Calendar to keep you focused on your essential tasks?  I work with many business leaders and their teams, and one of the things we work on together is how to use our time effectively. As leaders, we have many demands on our time. And many distractions. Sometimes, we give-in to the urgent, which can impact our productivity, and prevent us from doing the important, the things God has called us to do.

At 1st Principle Group, we've found the book Essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, to be a great resource. I recommend picking it up for more than time management. If you need help working through it, let us know!

Among its many ideas:

Determine your Essential Role

One of Essentialism's key principles involves identifying what is the most essential part of your job, and go "all in" on it, and graciously say no to everything else.

That's easier said than done, right?

Start your journey anyway. First step: be clear on what is the most essential part of your role. Make sure your team understands it as well. Then review the other things that occupy your day and decide how they can be avoided: delete, delegate, diminish or delay - so you can get the essential DONE.

If you don't make the essential a priority, the unessential will eat up your precious time.

Color-Code Your Calendar

Yes, that implies that you establish time on your calendar to work on your essential tasks. Many of us know what we should do, but we treat it like a default when nothing else at the office is exploding.

That's understandable, but not effective.

So we recommend calendaring your day, and color coding times to do specific tasks - and not just the essential time.

Track All Your Time

This is your process of turning your calendar into a "Heat Map" of your productivity.

Simply catalog the times you're doing urgent things: answering questions, supporting team members, etc. Give that a different color, obviously.

Also establish times for important things that you hate doing but can't delegate. Give it an ugly color.

The end result of this color-coding, when you survey your work week, you will be able to see how much of your time is occupied in various activities.

Subconsciously, this will move you toward optimization, clarifying your needs, prioritizing, making hiring decisions, outsourcing, etc.

If you can reduce your ugly-color - those urgent but not important tasks that only you can do - to under 20% of your time, you will feel like you're hitting in your strike zone.

You'll feel like you're once again a business-grower and not a fire-fighter.