THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

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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