Instead of coming up with a New Year’s Resolution for 2022, I decided to try something a little different. I’ve had pretty mixed results with resolutions in the past, but wanted to make an improvement in my life. So, I’ve decided to focus on an intention instead of a specific behavior.

My intention this year is to have more time available for my family, my interests, and myself. I have dozens of projects I want to explore, hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails to ride, and a growing desire to help and serve more people.

Working Hours

Over the last two years, a combination of working at home and changes in my responsibilities at work have negatively impacted my personal time. I’ve gone from a mostly structured work day (bookended with a commute and mostly focused on a local team) to having loosely-defined hours mostly driven by my first and last meeting of the day. These changes have resulted in a work days that start earlier, end later, and leave me exhausted most of the time.

I have working hours set on my calendar to try and establish boundaries. I also have a Focus Plan to protect time for heads-down work, but both of these are often missed by meeting schedulers[1]. The Focus Plan has been the most effective for me, because I have to make a decision about whether to accept a meeting or propose an alternate time. For the early or late meetings, I didn’t have a good prompt, and often just concede to getting up earlier or staying online later.

Start and End of Day

After some reflection, I realized I was good about protecting my Focus time during the day, and needed a similar mechanism for the start and end of my day. That turned out to be a simple solution.

Calendar screenshot with start and end of day blocked off.Calendar screenshot with start and end of day blocked off.

I created two recurring meetings on my calendar: one is Start of Day and the other is End of Day. Both repeat every work day, and show up as Busy when others check my availability. Just like requests that overlap my Focus times, any requests that conflict with my these meetings force me to make a decision: accept or propose an alternate time.

I’m only a few weeks into this system, but so far it’s been great. Most mornings, I’m able to spend time with my family, have breakfast, and get ready at a comfortable pace. At the end of the day, I’m either ready to step away or able to comfortably wrap things up.

Guidelines

I’ve used a few guidelines to try and ensure this is successful:

  • Don’t apologize for requesting a different meeting time, and don’t feel obligated to justify it.
  • The boundaries don’t have to be rigid, so use some discernment about when to accept a meeting that conflicts. After all, it’s an intent, not a policy.
  • Remember to extend grace to people who are also protecting their time.

Hopefully this is a helpful framework. If you have ideas on how to improve it or other ways you’ve been successful in protecting your time, I’d love to hear them!


  1. or just ignored 😬… ↩︎