Episode 52

Planning Your Ideal Week

Published on: 14th September, 2021

Today, we talk about planning your ideal week. As professionals, we live and die by our calendars and most of the time they are like a game of Tetris gone horribly wrong.

Today we cover thoughts and ideas for regaining control of your calendar, managing expectations around your time, and making the time for things that are most important to you.

Thanks for joining us today and don't forget to hit the subscribe button or reach out at [email protected].


Robert Greiner 0:05

Okay, we are recording.

Charles Knight 0:07


Robert Greiner 0:08

How's it going, man.

Charles Knight 0:10

That's pretty good. We're we're both a little nasaly today

Robert Greiner 0:14

on the mend.

Charles Knight 0:16

Yes. I forgot what it's like being sick. It's no fun.

Robert Greiner 0:21

It's terrible. But

Charles Knight 0:22

yeah. I feel like a, like a whiny baby a little bit, but it is really no fun to pain in the head. It's difficult sleeping. coughing doesn't feel good. I feel for anybody who gets sick with anything. That's no bueno. For sure.

Robert Greiner 0:41

Yeah, my daughter had something for Gosh, 13 hours. I mean, it was really short. Not really even any fever just kind of runny nose. And I'm on like day six. Yeah, yeah, I finally feel like I'm coming down the other end of it. But I think it was at its worst yesterday.

Charles Knight 0:58

Yeah. Yeah, I don't know.

Robert Greiner 1:00

I just stuff that kind of sits with me longer maybe?

Charles Knight 1:02

Probably in general. I think that's I think that's the thing. You know, kids immune systems operate differently than, than adults. And so I think that's a that's a thing. I guess public service announcement. Take your vitamins. Wash your hands. You know, everyone's going back to school. schools are germ factories.

Robert Greiner 1:20

Yeah, we're just stuck on the occasional crummy week of being sick. And it could be worse. Could be worse.

Charles Knight 1:29

It absolutely could be. Yeah, I'm glad you're on. You're on the mend. Yeah.

Robert Greiner 1:35

Thank you. Yeah, same you. So the one downside, watch this transition, I'm going to transition to the downside, in in the professional lives and personal lives, right. But when you're sick, when something comes up, is it completely sort of spirals your calendar for the week? You know, you miss a couple meetings, you're out for a day, you're not feeling well. And it's like Tetris, right, you're you have all the blocks lined up, and then you finger slip, and then the little path to get all the rows completed. And now you're playing catch up the whole rest of the game. And our calendars are kind of similar. And so when, whenever we have something come up, whether it's health related, personal related, some kind of new priority thing at work, we need to be able to adapt. And I think part of that is having a good command and control over our calendars. What do you think about that?

Charles Knight 2:28

Yeah, that absolutely so true. And I think it's a pretty good transition. Robert, I don't I don't think that was thinking too much of a dramatic transition. I'm trying to think back to when I first started thinking about my time and my week. It's been a long time, probably several years, maybe six, seven years. And I don't remember if this was a book, it was likely a podcast that I was listening to by a guy named Michael Hyatt. He's an author. He's written a lot of different books, he has some online courses. I'm a big fan. But if I think I've talked about on the past, I did this exercise of writing my own eulogy. And that that exercise was detailed out in one of Michael Hyatt's books, living forward. And so I, you know, I'm just realizing now it's like a lot of what I do now, in terms of annual planning, you know, thinking about starting with the end in mind, you know, the end of my life sort of thing, how I manage my time in a week, it really all stems from his ideas and books, which they're not super novel, right? You can go and Google ideal week and get a bunch of different templates. It just happened to resonate when he was talking to me, the way he talked to me and where I was probably in life. Anyway, all that to say, I'm a big proponent now. Sorry, excuse me. That'll happen again. Yeah, I'm a big proponent now of creating your ideal week. And I bring this up a lot for my mentees at work. And for anybody really, who asks me, Hey, I'm struggling trying to do all the things that I need to do and I want to do and who who isn't in that situation? I guide. I think we're all in that situation where we have so many different demands of our time, personally, professionally, and there's always more work to do than time available. I mean, just always, there's, there's never a time at which our work is done. And I think I think that's just a fact of life that I've really struggled with until I did this exercise and designed my ideal week. Have you done an ideal week exercise.

Robert Greiner 5:00

and oh, yeah, I'm a fan of Michael Hyatt as well. I like leadership development experts, let's say authors that had some level of success in their career before getting into that profession, Gary Vaynerchuk ran a very successful wine company, he ran a business a successful business. So he could have an opinion about how to build a business from the ground up. Right, Michael Hyatt was, I think, a an executive in publishing.

Charles Knight 5:30

That's what I was gonna say, I think there's a book publisher.

Robert Greiner 5:32

I think that's right. Yeah. And so he's been in the crucible. And so I tend to take what people like that say a little bit more seriously, because I feel like they've, they've been there. And he had the idea week concept was, you know, something that I really, again, probably not as far back as you, maybe the three, four year timeframe. But I found myself just in these wall to wall meetings just every day, right back to back to back to back. And no kind of margin in my calendar to get work done to think about the careers of the people on my team. I was really kind of saying maybe saying yes to too many things, which is not healthy. And something needed to change. The beautiful thing about calendars, though, is you know, if you look three, four weeks out, everybody's counters like fairly open, these things kind of crunched, like, the closer to the current day that you are, first thing I did is I went out, I just blocked weeks of PTO for the rest of the year, which has been a yearly practice of mine. Now I just do that like in January, even December, the year before, because you can always move it. And then I went and I put just holds like I call it like TBD priority work or something. And I colored them on my calendar. And so the first thing I did is like I just created margin in my calendar life. We had that I went through Yeah, Go ahead.

Charles Knight 6:54

Well, the margin was was what what Michael had described, he's like, you need more margin. I said, What the heck is margin? You know, it's, it's, it's an awkward word for me. Actually, I think it more intuitively, I think of it as like, I need space in my calendar in my day. But margin was a very intentional word choice of his I don't, I don't exactly know why. But now, I think of it as margin of safety. Right. It's like it adds margin of safety to my day to my week that allows for space and time and flexibility to handle things that that come up. So I didn't realize that you're such a big fan of Michael Hyatt. And this is Yeah,

Robert Greiner 7:35

we we I don't think we've ever talked about. Yeah, so the definition of margin when you look it up, and this is maybe one of my favorites and amount by which a thing is one or fall short. And so the more margin you have, the more flexibility you have for things to not go perfectly. I mean, we can't tell the future. The idea is to create space for things to shift and not be so rigid so that when novel experiences come your way you can you can adapt and adjust.

Charles Knight 8:04

Yeah. Why I really love that definition, and amount by which a thing is one or fall short. I think it it really highlights what's at stake here. If you don't have margin in your life, because you're controlling your time and your calendar in a way that's in alignment with your values and what's needed and what's important to you. You lose. I think it is that serious, you know of stakes that we're talking about here. I was one of those people who are like, Oh my gosh, the world is against me. You know, I I'm always doing things that other people want me to do. I don't have time to take care of myself. I don't I don't have time to go to the doctor if I'm sick. Man, I don't have time to exercise. And I was I was living somebody else's life. It was really that bad at a point in time for me, man. I love that definition. That's blowing my mind. Dude,

Robert Greiner 9:05

you were the one that sort of inspired me to put exercise blocks on my calendar, huh? How it's just funny how this works out. But so the kids are back in school. My my daughter rides the bus, which is cool. So just I mean, that's fairly straightforward in the morning, but then also take my my son in in the morning, I'll pick them up the afternoon. Well, that was a if you go back from like the summer schedule. And then we even did sort of the remote learning thing. The year before that, that was a highly invasive thing on my calendar because I actually need to like leave and go and drop them off and talk to the teacher if they need to talk and you know, it's 30 to 45 minutes. And so I just went in and, you know, did the repeating out of office meeting in the morning in the afternoon. You know, getting kids ready picking kids up kind of thing and went around and played Tetris, you know, moving forward and everything like worked out, right. And then same way Like, no one knows how busy you are when they put something on your calendar Really? Or they're not thinking about it. And, and I think that's okay. And

Charles Knight:

I was gonna say they don't care, but I don't think they should. Right. They shouldn't care about your time you should care about. Yeah,

Robert Greiner:

that's right. Yeah, you should put the boundaries around your time and and schedule. And then, you know how many times have you tried to schedule a meeting with someone and they say, Hey, sorry, I have a conflict that this time and you don't, you don't like think less of them in your head, you just move it now. And it's super nice if they propose a new time, because if it works for you, then then it's easy. There's all sorts of cool scheduling apps out there, like calendly and stuff. So yeah, I think it's the boundaries that you can create around your calendar when you start to block off chunks of time, that are not meeting time, like people just adapt around it. It's not, it's not typically that big of a deal. Well, let

Charles Knight:

me let me walk you through the actual exercise that I went through around creating my ideal week. Yeah. And maybe you could talk about what you did as well, because I tried what you did, around, hey, look ahead, put put blocks on my, my actual calendar, we use Outlook. I also have a Google calendar for for personal stuff didn't really work for me, actually, I think because by by nature, I'm probably more of a people pleaser than then the average. And so even though those blocks were there, if somebody asked for time, I was like, yeah, I'll sacrifice my time for somebody else's time. Right. So I really got into that bad, bad habit of allowing that boundary to crumble, you know, there was no boundary. And so the the ideal week exercise, I actually really liked, because it was all done on digital paper, like an Excel spreadsheet. Michael Hyatt had a template. And I think it was a Google Doc, maybe it was an Excel spreadsheet at the time. And it it just had days as columns, and either 30 minute or hour blocks as rows. And at first, I was like, man, I don't want to fill this out. This is why can I just use my calendar, when I was just using my calendar before to try to block off time it wasn't working. So I actually went through and, and manually filled out this Excel spreadsheet, color coded it based off of different responsibilities, you know, work, travel, exercise relationships, you know, put standing meetings on it that you can't move. And what I liked about it is that it was a blank slate, like it became this blank slate for me to think about. Again, I love what you've, you've mentioned before around declaring bankruptcy, like task, bankruptcy or calendar bankruptcy, this was a chance for me to say, you know what, my current calendar has failed me. I'm declaring calendar bankruptcy. And I need to create a new calendar. So I just kind of wiped everything away. And I said, Alright, what, what is most important to me, and let me start blocking off time. And the first thing I put on there was physical health related things, like time to work out. At the time, meditation was a more prominent daily activity for me. So I put time to meditate. And I constructed, I started to construct all of my other Tetris blocks around those pillars, you know, after that came family time, and then once those were were in place, then it's a Hey, on a weekly basis, what are the sorts of things that I need to do on a recurring basis from a work perspective? And then and then that's what, you know, work came last, really? And I think it should? I really do. I think it should I think as a society, we we over index on work to the detriment of ourselves and others in our families. Maybe that's just me, though. I have a question for you, Robert. When when you did this exercise? Did you have difficulty making this an ideal week? You know, ideal week within reason? Right? Like, ideally, we probably wouldn't be in meetings at all. And we had complete flexibility, freedom. But did you have difficulty in making this this ideal? Or did that come pretty easily to you?

Robert Greiner:

Yeah. Well, there's that the whole trick behind this, it's almost ironic is there's no such thing as an ideal week, right? Like, they're all they're just different every week, right? You hit on a lot of really good points, which were my experience as well. And I will say, I think to maybe answer your question more fully. I tried to be more rigid about every day at 5pm. I'm going to exercise, right? Like every week, every Thursday from three to 5pm. I'm doing one on ones with the team. And it's like, it just doesn't work that way stuff comes up. And so that's what The margin idea comes back in. And I think, I think you should really think of it as an ideal, our allocation within the week, which makes it harder, because you're kind of adjusting, you're playing this ongoing game of Tetris. To the degree you can have, you know, a recurring block that just holds for one on ones with the team are holds for you to get some work done. That's great. But don't be afraid to, to shift things around. But yeah, so I started with had the same experience you did, trying to just use the calendar to skip a step, there's some some kind of like maybe optimization function going on in there, there's too many constraints already on your calendar. And if you're going ahead a few weeks, and then something pops up, and you're like, Oh, my gosh, there's this presentation over here, and it just kind of spirals you so it doesn't really put you in the right frame of mind to to rethink how you should be spending your time. And that's really what this exercise is, it's a priority and values exercise, as much as it is a blocking and tackling exercise. But as professionals, we live and die by our calendar. So it's really important to get this right. So the thing that kind of stuck out to me is you can do anything you want, but you can't do everything. And you know, your priorities don't have to be the same as mine. But I do agree with you get your priorities on their family exercise team, one on ones strategic thinking, deliverables meetings, you know, we have people on our team that they're very productive in the morning, like, I don't want to do meetings in the morning. Others are productive in the afternoon, like, it's good to know that about yourself and just communicate out, hey, during this time, I'm going to be focusing here. And again, people just around you pretty well, we're we're used to everyone just being so busy that you have to, you have to adjust, right, but yeah, the Excel spreadsheet, the printing something out in hand drawing it, whatever is totally fine, that that's what I would definitely recommend. This is a brainstorming exercise and one that you should repeat, I think, you know, you'll get meeting creep back in your ideal week, well, even if you haven't perfect over time, over a six month period, 12 month period, you'll just start to get all that craft back in there. And so this is probably like an ongoing thing that you have to constantly prune.

Charles Knight:

Well, I did one thing, I can't remember if it was part of the template or not. But what I did is I had themes for individual days. And by that it's like, hey, Tuesdays, we have a lot of our, you know, weekly recurring internal company related meetings. And so that that would be an internal meeting day theme. And, you know, Wednesdays is when I had steering committee meetings with a particular client. And so I would try to make that that client that theme that day. So if any meetings came up that were unplanned, related to that client, I would try to do on that day, like, was that part of the original template? Or is that something that maybe I adapted,

Robert Greiner:

man, we've talked about that. So I don't, I don't remember, I love the idea. I've never been able to make that work. That's it. There's something about the level of granularity, like we think in terms of kind of the week, right? Like when you open, I don't know how it is on yours, but I have my calendar open. I'm just kind of looking at it as we're talking and I have it in week view. And so there's a seven day period. And I focus in on the on the five days, Monday through Friday, but also on my work calendar, I put personal stuff too, because I don't really are all sync my personal calendar because I need it all like in one view. So you're not missing, you know, doctor's appointments and stuff like that. But yeah, so I kind of think in chunks of weeks. And then every now and then I think it's important to go beyond that the day is too granular for me at least personally,

Charles Knight:

that that there's probably a Yeah, personal preference there because but but I agree with you that there's drift that happens over time, is one of the things that I do a lot now, probably the last 18 months, is one on one coaching around thought leadership, and anywhere from six to 15 people. I've been meeting on a row with it on a regular basis with every single week. And I want those all on Wednesdays. Like that's that's what the theme of the day is because and the reason why I do that is because there's a there's a context switching cost that we have to do at a task level. But not all tasks are created equal. Right. So like context, switching from a thought leadership coaching session to another thought leadership coaching session is less than if I'm switching from a thought leadership coaching session to a project planning meeting. Exactly. Yeah. The themes meant to help me figure out where can i ideally batch things together? Right, this concept of batching together things and doing them back to back has been a big game changer for me too. I don't think that was baked into the ideal week. But just given the diversity of things that I do, I've had to do that to really, to really kind of adapt my, my calendar to fit, you know, all the different needs that I have have to satisfy here.

Robert Greiner:

Yes. Yeah, that that makes a lot of sense. I think, trying to switch between elevation, I can't even think of the right word. But abstract layers of abstraction is much harder.

Charles Knight:

Yeah. Yeah. And to the drift point, I forgot to mention this. This is where, you know, we have the luxury of of having an admin help us, you know, manage our calendars and things like that. Occasionally, if I notice, when I look at that weak view, it's like, hey, I've drifted, I'll just go tell her, like, Hey, can you please move these things back to the ideal week that we had laid out at the beginning of the year, or at the quarter mark, or whatever? Because I do revisit those at least annually. And yeah, she'll go and say, okay, yep, let's line these all back up. And there was entropy that you have to fight against. That's right. In all things, including your calendar.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, it's like clutter in your house. That's, that's a great analogy for it. I was trying to find the right word. But yeah, entropy sets in. Yeah. Over time. And that, that goes back to the margin idea. If you have that margin, you can, you can sustain, you can endure a higher degree of, of entropy, right? You're you're not just on the, on the knife's edge there. Yeah, one thing, Bruce actually told me, our CEO, when I was working on my POV, because I was considering just like taking PTO to go and work on this, like, deliverable, because it was just kind of it was killing me. And I needed to just have some time to focus on it. And like, some deep work on it, right. And he goes, Yeah, just block your calendar, just mark it out of office, but, and just work on it. And so this week, actually, I have the whole week blocked is out of office, because we're in review season. And this is a particularly heavy quarter, the q1 and q3, or the two quarters that are very heavy for me, review wise. And so I blocked the whole week off. And then some of the standing meetings that I had, which I attend, you know, I have like a 90 to 95% attendance rate on, I just declined them, you know, and the world didn't fall apart. And I'll go to the next one. And so I think you have some flexibility as well. And within a given week, but you don't perfect attendance on your weekly, you know, staff meeting or whatever is not is not the thing that's going to make or break you. Nobody puts that in your performance review. You know, people people out on PTO stuff comes up client conflicts, whatever. And so you have some even flexibility there. If you have a particularly busy week, an easy thing to do is go in and kill all the meetings that that don't make sense, push them out, or something like that.

Charles Knight:

Well, that that's what I do. I got sick last week, last Tuesday morning. I was like, Oh, no, I can feel it. And I attended our, you know, weekly management team meeting. And, you know, clear my calendar, like I'm taking the rest of the day off, I'm sick. And for those things that are weekly meetings, just cancel them, and I'll pick them back up next week, like no need to reschedule those. And I really like what you said, it's like, hey, I've held true to these weekly meetings for easily, easily over a year. For some some folks, it's okay for me to take off a week, because I'm sick, right? I don't need to make that up to them. For me, the biggest, the biggest thing here, we're talking about very tactical things are on managing our calendar. Really what it helped me do is, though, is change my mindset about my time, as like my time is not for other people to use. And that that I think is the mindset that I had before. My time is my time. And and I need to be really clear on what is the best use of that time, at any given point in time. I said time a lot.

Robert Greiner:

And that's a lot of time. Yeah, I would, I would say also that is the maybe an unwritten expectation that the firm places on you that we just don't really talk about. That's not a Charles's being selfish thing. That is a, you're in your role, because we're asking you to do things only you can do, and to make tough decisions about where you spend your time and don't because you can't do everything. When you're playing a position. I'm thinking hockey in my head right now. But if if you if you go and try to help out the defense, so it keeps the other team from scoring, but then you get the puck back, there's no in the pass to right, like you're out of position. And for a team to work. Like the whole point of being on team is that you're doing the thing that you should be doing. Other people are doing the things that they should be doing and then your collective effort. it magnifies more than the sum of the individual parts and if you're not, if you're out of position, it's harder for that to happen.

Charles Knight:

I think one of the big areas of growth as a professional is probably as a professional is Just making that that mindset shift. Right to it's like, oh, you know, I'm, I'm a slave to time. Right. And and whatever pops up onto my calendar, it's like, I think part of the, you know, maybe it's the Well, certainly I think to get to the level of Vice President at our company, you've got to make that shift. If not, I don't think you'll be successful, I don't think you'll get to vice president because I don't think you'd be successful as the vice president, if, you know, your, your, your focus your attention, your priorities are set by others, as we don't need vice presidents who just react to whatever's in front of them, we need them to be able to sift through the noise and say, No, this is what's important, and urgent. And that's what I need to. That's what I need to go do. Now. And all of these other things be damned, which is really hard to say, it's really hard to say,

Robert Greiner:

well, especially if you like doing that stuff, or it was a thing that you did before, and you were really good at and you're comfortable doing it and you want to keep doing it. And those two things will will sink you it's a physics problem at that point, right? Because you only have, I mean, look at your calendar right now pull it up, there's only so many 30 minute chunks in a week, and we all have the same number. And so they're just there, it becomes a scale problem, death by 1000 cuts. And if you don't kind of fight against that entropy setting in such a perfect term for this is gonna sink you.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, I remember a time before I did the ideal week. But I still get into this a little bit where, okay, you've got your ideal week said, entropy has has taken hold, and there's been some drift from it. It's a stressful week. And you get to the point where, you know, I get to the end of the day, it's like, I've got all of these emails and tasks that I need to do, I feel compelled to do to quote unquote, catch back up. And I remember feeling this when I was first managing and leading projects as a, as a manager, several years ago. And I've, you know, there's a time and a place to where it makes sense to do that, you know, maybe spend an hour at the end of the day, even though the boundary was to stop working at six, you know, maybe you work until seven to try to catch back up. What what's your take on that? Do you ever do that? Or are you really good all the time about, you know, your your personal productivity system, scheduling those things and stay on top of those things? It's like, what do you know, situations? And how do you make those calls as to whether or not you put in a little bit extra work to catch up or you just let it, let it go and try to try to build margin into your days in the future to catch back up. Maybe that's the options I'm asking about.

Robert Greiner:

One thing I've been getting more comfortable with. And this is very recent. So like over the last year, 18 months is letting tasks linger longer. There's something about deferring that I have not quite wrapped my head around. But the same thing happens, like works with meetings, if you just push it a week, someone requested something, I put it on my calendar that week, because I wanted to get through it. And you know, that just doesn't, that just doesn't work. So something about pushing it out letting things linger, I think is okay, I do fairly frequently though, bleed into sort of my end of work day time, for a couple of reasons. There are also times where during the day, I'll go have lunch with my wife or something like that. So, you know, I'm not so bound to the nine to five kind of deal. I let life flex into work and work flex into life as well. And then there's a contract that I need to get out that has revenue implications. If someone on the team needs something, if they need some support, or some help if there's a severity is the wrong word, but like the priority, the importance of the things, I'll let that bleed in, but it's not an everyday thing. And so I think there's a, there's some kind of threshold. That's right for you. That's it's gonna be different for me. But that goes back to scheduling in your priorities, like when, in 2019. And before you know, when I was commuting into work every day and stuff, it was important to make family dinner four out of five weeknights, if I had a happy hour in a week. Totally cool. If I had two, I'd have to really think about which one do I attend? Or how do I make that up later. So it's it's not that you can't, you know, only make three out of five one week it's that you're making an intentional decision. You're not letting again what you said which I like other people's priorities to sort of set yours. And so it's a it is a very flexible thing for me. I have a very flexible take on rules and guidelines. You know what I mean? So that's that's probably works for me better. But yeah, occasionally, I would say maybe frequently I let things kind of bleed over. But there's also balance on the other side. And so that's what works for me. Yep. that answer your question? I think it does.

Charles Knight:

No, yeah, it does. It does. And I think some of the I like what you said there's, there's power in deferring. What What is the other d? deleted? Yeah. Or don't do it?

Robert Greiner:

Is that my favorite one? Delete? Yeah,

Charles Knight:

I point. If I continually defer, I have gotten a lot more comfortable with just saying, you know, what am I going to do it?

Robert Greiner:

Let me poke on that a minute. As we're talking right now, there is a project team meeting going on from one of my teams, that is fairly important, we're reporting on status. Okay. For when we first started doing these, I was attending every one and over, but they got to be too many. It just was like, you know, in a given month, you know, you're talking about a couple of days of just these meetings total. It's one of those things, I really kind of felt like, this was not where I should be spending my time. Maybe I just didn't like it. You know, these are kind of high detail, formal type meetings. And then it occurred to me though, what, on the Delete side, like, I was really thinking, I gotta delete these, I don't want to do them. Do I attend to every other one, like, at what, what's my thinking here, and then it hit me, you know, these are meetings that the managers on my team should be handling, running end to end to give them good growth opportunities. So I talked to each of the managers like, Hey, this is your meeting. Now. You know, if you need me there, I'll be there. If you want to work with me to prep, you know, we'll, I'll get you the support that you need for sure. But over time, this is yours. And they're all running just fine. Without me. And so I like that, because it gives, it reduces some burden off of me. And you might even argue that the initial instinct to delete these meetings was selfish, what how professionally selfish, whatever you want to say there, I was just looking at him and thinking I, I just, this is not something I want to do. I feel like I shouldn't be doing. It's invasive on my calendar. And so it came from a place of looking inward. But then I like where it ended up. Which is it skimming our Yeah, delegating, I guess it is more of a delegation than deleting I tried to delete into a delegation. Maybe that was, maybe that was it. But and now I haven't gone for months. And they've been fine.

Charles Knight:

I mean, I think I think the, the takeaway there is like, trust your instincts, Be assured it might be selfish, or it might be internally motivated. But there's a reason why your instinct said initially that I need to delete this thing. And yeah, you should be thoughtful about well, do I really need to delete it? Or should I defer it or delegated that? That's totally fine. But I mean, at this stage, well, for a long time, now I've learned it's like, I need to trust my, my gut and my instinct. Because, because it It knows, I mean, it's been trained enough over the years to know what's what's important. And even if I can't logically make sense of that, I have to listen to it. And and then apply some logic to, to figure out what I do with that.

Robert Greiner:

Yes, intentionality. And the only way you get better at that is to make those decisions. And the beautiful thing here, man is if I misread the situation, if these meetings were really a big deal for me to show up to somebody would have told me, right, or what are showing up on my review? I hope that wouldn't be the case. Right? Because then that's a long, like feedback loop. Right. But you know, somebody at some point, what if they hadn't See you in the last two or three meetings? Is everything okay? And then you would know, you know, oh, someone noticed, this is probably more important than I had originally thought. And that goes to tasks too. You know, there. I don't know how I wonder how many, I would say probably billions of dollars. We spend as the US economy every year generating reports that nobody looks at.

Charles Knight:

Oh, yeah. Oh, my gosh, yeah. And,

Robert Greiner:

yeah, just think of like, people, like, think about building something. spending your your, like, professional energy on something that nobody cares about. It looks that that's got to be super demoralizing. That's all energy and effort that could be spent creating value. And so I do think we probably over index on not killing enough stuff off of our plates, to the waste of, you know, value being generating the economy like that at scale. that's a that's a real problem. I think.

Charles Knight:

I think the challenge for myself in that in the past, I think less so right now. And this, this, again, probably past 1824 months. It's been okay, if I drop this if I stopped doing this thing. Well, what do I do with that? Would that add a time? Yeah, yeah, does it go to function which I haven't always been comfortable with, right? It's like, oh, if I'm not doing something, I'm not adding value, right? That that's kind of been my mo as a as a professional. It's like, I've got to always be doing things. And that served me well. Not now, though. Not Not, not at this stage in my career. And if it's not margin, and you know, I've got enough margin, then it's a question of, well, what should I be doing? That creates more value? And that's hard to that's hard to figure out too.

Robert Greiner:

Well, that okay, man, you're Yes, we have, we have waded into a related but maybe adjacent territory, which is, and I would say this applies if you're an individual contributor, all the way up to absolutely like C-level executive. And the more role power, the more responsibility you have, the more that this is true. But you should sit down and know like, you should know what. And this is one thing I like about Brian, you remember, he said, we have the sort of like revenue target, the 14 initiatives. And it's like, if you're not plugged into one of these things, you need to be plugged into one of these things, because this is our opinion about how to optimally positioned and grow the office. You can't do all of those. Right? So sitting down and thinking through how can you help push the objectives forward of the organization? Like I think that's a that is a straightforward question to answer. But it requires you to sit down and think about it. So maybe the first when you when you create this margin in your calendar, maybe the first thing you should do is think about, what are the objectives of the organization? What is organization need for me? Where can I maximally allocate my time, to things that only I can do too things that I can really move the needle forward? And I would say two, and this might be this is more of a personal opinion, I don't know that it's professionally effective. But I would say like, what are some things you want to do? Right? Like, if you have three or four choices, you can't do them all? Like, maybe start with the one you're most passionate about. I think that's a little bit heretical. But I think it's probably a fine place to start. And again, if you're doing something wrong, you know, people will tell you, you can go ask like, Hey, boss, I'm thinking about pushing on XYZ. What do you think? And you'll you'll know, pretty quick, I think,

Charles Knight:

yeah, at our stage in our careers? I don't think we would ever get told no. You know, because I think I think we're expected to push into areas that are not obvious that people aren't already pushing, pushing into, depending upon where you are in your career, though, that yeah, that may backfire. But

Robert Greiner:

well, yeah, I'll give you another example. So I was when I was maybe five years into my career software developer. My core strength as a software developer is debugging existing code. So squashing bugs, troubleshooting refactoring to degree, making code that might score c plus into like an A minus, that that's my core strength. So creating new features, creating net new things, the design around it, as cool as I think that is, I just wasn't as good at it. And so in every role that I had, and again, this does sort of pre stipulate you're in the knowledge worker space, there are things that your group your team needs, I mean, someone's got to play defense on the team, someone's got to be the troubleshooter on a software development team. And so I would try to align what work I committed to in a given sprint, based on my strengths. And so I spent a lot of time troubleshooting code, squashing bugs, creating a tiger team to go and you know, when right before release, and try to kill as many bugs as we could, right. And so, and again, this is not an every week thing like most we saw this in nine lies about work, that we're talking like 20, or 30% of your job is doing stuff that you like doing, right? But to the degree you can align on that and have the right expectations about it. I think you have more freedom than then you think you do. Even even when I worked at Subway, and in high school, there are a celebration station, which is like a pizza family arcade thing. There was stuff that I would go and do because I was good at it. And I like doing it and no one no one seemed to complain. Right. So there's there's margin I think anywhere.

Charles Knight:

Yeah. Well, I think the key in those situations and this probably what you did is you you were you were able to see how doing things that you enjoyed could create more value, right? Because when when you're doing something that you enjoy, it's probably done with a higher degree of quality, and care and attention than if you didn't like doing it. And that's, I think that's the value to the team when the firm went when people find alignment between what they're interested in and and and And with what's what's needed and valuable. And I think that's, that's kind of how I think about my time, like, I'm constantly trying to think about, okay, how this this thing that I'm doing, like I do a lot of coaching thought leadership, it doesn't scale really well. You know, it's, it's, it doesn't, it doesn't scale at all. Yeah. And so so I'm constantly thinking, it's like, Alright, I gotta, I got to continually try to scale the value with the time that I have. So it's like, I need to stop taking on more individual coaching, like I have to do it, even though I'm good at it, and I enjoy doing it. And that means I need to figure out what else I need to do with that time. Right. So I guess that's the mentality that I think, if people can embrace with their time, I think that that creates tremendous value. You know, it's, I don't know if it's arbitrage, or if it's like this idea of compounding, you know, your time, but it's, it's thinking about your time is not finite and sticky. Right, you may set your ideal week, and that may be appropriate for this this quarter or this year. But you should be expected to adjust, you know, your ideal week. So that way, you're, you're finding ways to create more and more value. And if you do that, I think that leads to great personal and professional success. And however you define those things.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, you're totally right. And one of the things that we get hung up on is scaling yourself, right. So you said, you're digging into helping other people become generate thought leadership, which for us as a firm is like super important, because you know, when you're a consultant, you're paid to, to have opinions and ideas that help move your clients organization forward. And we there's a void in our organization around the number of people who can reliably, infrequently and prolifically generate thought leadership. And so you've waited into this non scalable void in order to help in an area of like, immense need, and that's a good thing. So just because you can't just because it's not a scalable thing, or there's no multiplier effect, you know, you're just doing it one person at a time. And it's very linear. And the slope is not that steep, but it pays immense dividends over a long period of time. And I think that's a good thing. And there's not many people that can, it's hard enough to be able to generate thought leadership, but to teach other people to do it is is not straightforward.

Charles Knight:

Well, that's, that's it. I don't intend to do this forever, right. But I need to do it for a period of time. So that way, I can learn how to do this at scale. So that'll be a focus of mine. And 22 is shifting into scaling as opposed to as opposed to this but Robert, I think we're gonna have to end here. I got to move on with my with my day, so I don't I don't lose my margin.

Robert Greiner:

Yes. All right. Let's do it. Well, hey, next week, I think we'll be celebrating our year anniversary. We've been doing this for over a year now.

Charles Knight:

Yeah. I look forward to that, man.

Robert Greiner:

It'll be good. Yeah. All right. Well, hey, have a great week, and I'll talk to you soon, buddy.

Charles Knight:

You too. Take care, Robert.

Robert Greiner:

Okay. Bye.

Charles Knight:


Robert Greiner:

That's it for today. Thanks for joining and don't forget to follow us on Twitter @wannagrabcoffee or drop us a line at [email protected]

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About the Podcast

Wanna Grab Coffee?
Join us for weekly discussions about careers, leadership, and balancing work and life.
A podcast about all of the topics we discuss during our mid-day coffee breaks. We bring you stories, thoughts, and ideas around life as a professional, leadership concepts, and work/life balance. We view career and leadership development as a practice that spans decades and we are excited to go on this journey with you.