Operating rhythm in business is all about the communication and flow process of work between departments, teams or functions. However, this article is not about your business’ operating rhythm. Rather, I would like to talk about your own, individual operating rhythm. 

Your business or the company you work for might be fully organised, on the ball and ready to go, but are you? Are you as well organised as you want the rest of the business to be? 

Far too often, we look at how a business as a whole is functioning, thinking of it as a well-oiled machine, while failing to focus enough on each individual cog, (managers, workers, facilities etc.). When things do go wrong, it is usually one single cog that compromises the machine and causes everything to come to a standstill. 

What is operating rhythm from an individual point of view? 

In the simplest terms, your individual operating rhythm works by detailing your regular routines in a calendar and sticking to them. You can work out what kind of rhythm works best for you by thinking about your daily, weekly or monthly routine and deciding how much you can realistically achieve during each allocated time slot. Then, you start filling in the calendar, blocking out time slots known as ‘rocks’ to make sure that certain events and activities happen.  There are two different types of rocks: 

  • Square rocks – These are big, heavy rocks that cannot be moved from their scheduled time slot for any reason. Examples include regular client briefings and weekly board meetings. Things you absolutely cannot miss.
  • Round Rocks – These are still big rocks that take up regular space in your calendar, but they have the capacity to roll, or be moved if really necessary. “If really necessary” is the key phrase here, but whatever you decide to do with them, they cannot be rolled far away and they cannot be cancelled, just moved slightly (a day or two at most)

It is important to reiterate that these ‘rocks’ are important, regular calendar items that occur consistently and not ad hoc meetings or lunch dates. 

What is the point of this?

Blocking time in your calendar in this way is important not only for yourself, but also for the people you interact with both professionally and personally. It brings multiple benefits:

  • Creates space for key activities not considered to be ‘rocks’, ensuring highly important but non-urgent activities can still happen at the right frequency and for the right amount of time
  • Gives you greater awareness of own you are spending your time and ‘evidence’ to challenge any unexpected ad hoc calendar items that other people try to get you to commit to
  • Stops ‘double booking’, which can lead to confusion and missed opportunities
  • Develops a culture of continuous improvement by establishing habits and routine
  • Synchronises your way of working to and across the business
  • Helps prevent lost time from ‘switching’ during multi-tasking and getting distracted

I have spent many hours helping all kinds of managers and employees put together a stable routine. It’s not an easy process as it can involve challenging others and revaluating your own priorities. However, having clear evidence from your own calendar to show what’s working and what isn’t can make things a whole lot easier. 

Most of us now have access to an email system that comes with a built-in calendar, so why not utilise that? Once you are proficient in establishing a good operating rhythm, organising your time becomes second nature and makes your life, both professionally and personally more efficient and less crowded out.  

If you need support in establishing an effective operating rhythm, we can help you get started. Get in contact with us today at: team@penmark.co.uk

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