Drew Barontini

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Calendar Rules

We’re in an overbooked, meeting-first culture that keeps everyone “busy” and not focused on doing the work and delivering value.

Establishing rules for your calendar is essential to protecting your time and energy. It prompts mindfulness about how you use and allocate your time, helping you negotiate and adjust your schedule based on your priorities and energy levels.

Here are the rules I set for my schedule to protect my time:

Hours of focus time per week: Determine how much time of focus work you want to optimize for. This is time spent in deep work, ignoring distractions, and doing cognitively demanding work.

Hours of meetings per day: Based on your company, role, and how meetings affect your energy, you should limit the number of hours you’re in meetings each day.

No meeting times and/or days: Protect a certain part of the day (e.g. mornings), or try and protect full days (e.g. Thursdays). Optimize for your most productive time.

Fixed routine blocks: Create recurring 30-minute blocks for your routines. I recommend “Startup” and “Shutdown” routines at the beginning and end of your day. Use these to go through checklists like clearing out notifications, responding to emails, etc.

Padding around meetings: Add a buffer before and after meetings. This helps visualize the true impact of a meeting because you can’t just run out of a meeting and straight into deep work. This is compounded by how the meeting affected your energy levels.

The key to time management is being proactive rather than reactive. Take control of your time and direct it towards tasks that align with your goals, rather than constantly responding to emerging issues. Implement these rules so you can focus on your most valuable work.

If you don’t prioritize your time, someone else will.