Is It Time for Calendar Triage?

Do you ever feel like you are running out of bandwidth? I do. I am in one of those periods right now. The last several weeks have been crazy.

A Jumbled Calendar -Photo courtesy of ©, Image #8991871

My new book, Platform, is about to be published. My speaking calendar is full for the next several weeks. And I have a daughter getting married at the end of this month.

As a result, I feel like I am falling further and further behind, especially as I try to keep up with my e-mail load and meeting requests. Something has to go.

This weekend, I am planning to go through my calendar and engage in a little calendar triage. In case you are not familiar with it, triage is a battlefield term. Medics have to decide where to apply their limited resources. They can’t help everyone.

According to, “triage” is

the process of sorting victims, as of a battle or disaster, to determine medical priority in order to increase the number of survivors.”

In other words, some patients will survive without medical care. Some won’t survive even if they have medical care. Triage means ignoring these two groups and focusing on those that will only survive with medical care.

With regard to your calendar, it means you must know which things you can safely cancel or reschedule and which things demand your participation.

I’ve done this before and here’s how it works:

  1. Protect the basics. I will look at my current priorities and make sure I have allocated time for them in my schedule. I especially have to build-in time in the alone zone, so that I have time to actually get my work done. I will schedule these as appointments. (This is particularly important as you get busier.)
  2. Eliminate the non-essentials. Sometimes I make commitments that seem to be important when I schedule them. However, after further reflection, I realize that they aren’t that important. So, to the extent possible, I am going to either cancel these meetings or see if I can handle them another way.
  3. Re-schedule some of what remains. Some things are important, but they are not important now. I like to get things done as soon as possible, but this some times works against me. So, I plan to go through my calendar and see what can be postponed without significant consequences.

Hopefully, with a little planning, I can regain my equilibrium and carve out a little more margin for myself.

Question: Do you need to do a little calendar triage, too? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • HomemakersDaily

    I feel the same way.  I defiitely need to do some calendar triage, too, before I lose my mind. I need a fair amount of time to just piddle.  It rejuvinates me.  But lately I’m rushing from one thing to another.  I don’t want to live this way.  Great post. 

    • Jim Martin

      I like what you said regarding rushing from one thing to another.  “I don’t want to live this way.”  Do I ever relate this this!  What helped me break some bad habits (with time and scheduling) was finally being able to say, “I don’t want to live this way.”

  • Daren Sirbough

    I’m doing ok right now but I have to see a few things out this month that I can no longer change. Once they’re done with I feel that june will be a good month in terms of having a clean calendar with things I know I am needing and wanting to focus on.

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  • Sandy

    This is good advice.  I use the words “high pay off activities”  I work on the areas that get me closer to my goals.  If they are not part of the high pay off activities I put them off to another month or delegate it to someone else.  It helps to take the stress off and it moves you further towards accomplishing what you need to accomplish.

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  • Michele Cushatt

    I’ve been doing triage myself over the past couple weeks, even today.  My schedule over the past few weeks has drained my emotional and physical reserves. So I’m intentionally making sure the next few weeks allow for adequate rest and recovery. It started with a nap this afternoon. :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Michele. You did an OUTSTANDING job at SCORRE. As an Achiever, I hope you can rest in the satisfaction of having achieving something really significant. Your speech was a home run. (We’ve got to get it recorded.)

      • Michele Cushatt

        Thank you, Michael. Trying not to pick it apart, and instead just rest in it. We have a GREAT team, which makes me love what we do even more. (As for recording, Brian said the same!)

        • John Tiller

          Michele, Michael’s right: You were awesome! Build in some rest as you enjoy the achievement. You deserve it!

          • Michele Cushatt

            Thank you, John. So glad I finally got to meet you face to face at SCORRE!

  • Allison Galbraith

    This is a refreshing, useful and highly practical look at the age old problem of time management. When you do this exercise, do you ever find it is the same tasks that keep getting postponed ie the ‘important but not important now’ tasks? If so, how do you actually get those done?

  • Sharon Leukert

    My Crohn’s Disease has come out of remission and is beating me and my schedules up pretty bad. While we get it back under control, I’ve developed the Gravy Principle: I put two things to accomplish on my list for each day. Anything else that gets done is gravy. It has taught me to prioritize very carefully what those two things are.

    During the final countdown to your daughter’s wedding: Anything wedding related is a priority. Everything else is gravy.

    • Michele Cushatt

      I love “The Gravy Principle!” Excellent word picture. Sounds like a good blog post, Sharon.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Love that principle! By the way, two of my daughters have Crohn’s, including the one getting married. I understand the challenge it can be.

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  • J.R. Miller

    Just a thought, but calendar “triage” is not excuse for failing to live up to your commitments.  It demonstrates poor planning and lack of integrity if one keeps overcommitting. It only takes one or two times for me to write off guys, or gals, who do this kind of thing on a regular basis  I want to work with people who are capable of basic scheduling… far more fun and way less waste of my own time to do work with people who know how to handle life.

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