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6 Questions to Zero-Base Your 2021 Calendar

Before you shut down and sign off for the year, take some time to zero-base your 2021 calendar.

What does zero-basing mean? Let me explain. It comes from the world of finance and relates to budgeting. The formal definition is: a method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for a new period. Essentially, it means starting fresh with a blank slate and using no prior assumptions. Instead of spending money on things because you “always have,” it forces you to justify why every expense should be added back to the budget. It helps you to get serious about the things that truly matter and say “no” to everything else.

We need to do the same thing with our TIME. Pretend for a minute that your 2021 calendar has NOTHING on it. Literally nothing. Then screen everything you might spend time to determine what is worthy of adding back. Only keep the truly important things that tie to your goals. We want to avoid showing up on Monday, Jan 4th and just sitting through the same meetings and completing the same activities we always would.

Zero-basing your calendar will make space for all of the goals and resolutions you'll set for 2021. Go through each and every appointment on your calendar and ask yourself these six tough questions:

1. Would my competitors sit in a meeting like this? 2. Are my customers paying me to be in this meeting? 3. Would the Board or investors applaud me for attending this meeting? 4. If someone gifted me another hour next year would I spend it on this meeting? 5. Will this meeting have the right attendees, data, and accountability? 6. Will I learn something valuable attending this meeting? If you struggle to confidently answer YES, it may not be wise to add the item back to your calendar in 2021. Now, of course, there are tons of meetings you may not (yet) be able to just outright decline. There are natural fears, politics, and professional etiquette that hold us back. In the book, we tackle these head on for professionals at all levels. For now, even having a list of what you know you should delete is a great way to start 2021. If you can find even two hours a week of things to clear off your calendar next year, you will net more than two full weeks of time. Two full weeks! That will give you a much better chance of chasing after the important and hard things in 2021.

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