How to Win the Battle for Your Schedule and Spend More Time Doing What Matters

The elevation of spontaneity and emotion over planning and execution explains why leaders waste themselves on non-essentials.

Fall into the spontaneity trap and end up chasing triviality.


The spontaneity trap explains why:

  1. Corrective feedback goes wrong, if at all.
  2. Shallow answers replace curiosity. The person who speaks first seems right, until someone asks, “And what else?”
  3. Direction replaces development and coaching.
  4. Correction takes the place of thanking.
  5. Tweaking supplants affirming.

Respond to the person whose hair’s on fire, but don’t neglect weighty matters like culture building, for example. 

Trusting in spontaneity makes you inconsistent and unstable.


Reject spontaneity. Schedule things that matter most or things that matter least will replace them. Covey wrote, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Make Wednesday ‘Core Value Day’. Schedule a specific behavior that expresses one of your core values. Hopefully you’re already living your values, but it’s useful to bring them top of mind. Call and thank customers for their business, for example.

Schedule quarterly ‘Simplify Meetings’.

  1. What do we need to stop doing?
  2. Where are the energy drains in our organization? What would we like to do about that?
  3. How might we make it easier to achieve results?

Plan ‘Focused Walkabouts’.

Walk around for thirty minutes having brief intentional conversations:

  1. Monday at 10:00 a.m. : What’s important for you to get done this week?
  2. Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.: Notice good stuff. Schedule positivity or negativity will dominate.
  3. Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.: How can we get the ball rolling now? Perfect as you go, not before you go.
  4. Thursday at 1:30 p.m.: What are you glad you’ve done so far this week?
  5. Friday at 4:00 p.m: What are your plans for the weekend?

What important matters should all leaders put on their schedules?

What would you put on your focused walkabouts?