Preparing your calendar in advance

Sometimes I wake very early and my head is so full of stuff that I liken the feeling to pushing closed an air-lock door in a leaking submarine.
If I can get the door closed and keep out the flood of thoughts on the other side, then there is a fair chance of getting back to sleep again. I sometimes lay there in the dark imagining myself turning the big round handle on the air-lock door.
Other times, the pressure is too great, the door swings open and a flood of ideas and issues begin to drown me. Usually, after a few moments of composing emails and mentally moving life’s chess pieces around, I get up and start work.
This morning that process began at 4.39am and I was sat at my desk by 5.00am.
After answering 54 emails I decided to use the time to clear a “big job” that’s been sitting in my in-tray for a few weeks now.
In August each year I take some time to organise my calendar for the following year – and I wrote about this in my ezine this week and about the introduction of some new days in next year’s schedule.
Inevitably, what begins as a wall-chart, turns into an excel spreadsheet – and finally into my Outlook calendar.
The wall-chart is a team event, allocating not just types of day but also a quite complex travel schedule incorporating quarterly workshops in up to 12 locations around the UK. Travel is often difficult in this country and so making all the venues fit into a routine that doesn’t kill Team CB requires care.
Try landing at Manchester Airport around 8.00pm, after a full-day workshop in Belfast – and then driving 200 miles to Watford by midnight – and you’ll get some idea of what it can be like when it goes wrong – not funny.
The final step is one which I have never found a way of completing other than manually – and that’s to take all of those dates – holidays, workshops, “gigs”, Intensives, retreats, management meetings, business development days – and my “new for 2007” studio days – and enter them, one by one, into Outlook.
I will not delegate this process, no matter how laborious, because it really does give me a sense of what the year is going to look like – and I find my 8 weeks vacation, my 4 studio weeks and my 3-day weekends very energising.
So, this morning, I have been completing that annual pilgrimage from paper to computer (with extensive back-up already done I hasten to add). It’s now coming up to 9.00am and I’m ready for my lunch!
A shower, some tea and toast and then we shall see what the morning brings.
Actually I already know – I am presenting a team communication workshop in Doncaster on 22nd September and the organisers are screaming for handouts – so next stop will be PowerPoint.
I’ll probably need a Mediterranean siesta this afternoon.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.