I have spent my life organising other people. Diary management was never a problem to me, I made sure I could fit in everything that the CEO needed and wanted to do.  I even managed to schedule some time for reading and thinking.

clocksIn those days some described me as a time management magician… an impossible diary challenge? Alyson would sort it out.

So why did I suddenly find myself under pressure a few weeks ago?

Why was I working hard and feeling that I wasn’t achieving everything I wanted to?

After all, we all have the same amount of time in the day. And I was in total control of how I spent that time. Wasn’t I?

Or was I?

Chatting with a friend I commented on how I really want to walk more, for fitness, for relaxation, for creativity, and for the sheer pleasure of being out in the fresh air and the lovely Surrey countryside.

She asked me why wasn’t I? I heard myself saying that I was finding it hard to find the time.

As I heard those words, I wondered why I was finding it so hard. It was up to me how my diary was filled.

I colour code my diary entries – green for networking and one-to-one meetings, a range of colours for my clients, and orange for personal.

So I looked at my diary and realised how very lacking in orange it was. It was very green. I am committed to the networking groups that I attend, but I was also making myself too available for all sorts of additional meetings.

I realised the balance was all wrong, and that I was giving away too much time to others. This in turn was not giving me enough time to do my own work, and rarely the personal time we all need to recharge our batteries.

Not just that, but I realised I needed to add another colour. I now have lilac for ‘keep free’ time. This is the time that is just for me at my desk.

This is the time that, along with personal time, was being sacrificed. It is not set in stone, but it is a guide to help me balance out my week so that I can achieve my goals.

Part of my personal time is my walk that is now scheduled as often as I can in advance. I would like to walk for an hour once a day, but I am working up to that!

So this morning once again I was up and out shortly after 7 am, and walking up through my village, up, and up into the Surrey Hills.

At the top of the ridge I stood beside National Trust Polesden Lacey House and admired the view all the way over to the white Wembley arch – a 40 mile drive away.  I truly felt on top of the world.

I am now having more ‘me’ work time at my desk, and I am having more personal time away from my work. And the funny thing is, I am achieving more!

I am doing more by doing less.

How am I doing that? I am back in control.

My rainbow coloured calendar is keeping me on the straight and narrow – it is easy to see where the gaps are and how generous I can be with my time for others. At a glance I can see if the balance is right over the upcoming weeks.

What techniques do you use to achieve more and still keep a balance?