I don't keep a regular schedule and never put phone calls & meetings on my calendar
I do this on purpose to increase my effectiveness (and yours).
Many people have a hard time comprehending this so I made this page as a way to help understand why this is important to me.
The reason I started looking into no-schedule was because it always frustrated me when I spent my time working with someone else's busy schedule to find a time to have a phone call, web conference, or in-person appointment. I always keep my appointments and I arrive early. This is not universal and it always upset me when I made sure to take time out of my day to meet with someone else and they don't show or are late.
Now that I don't schedule them, others can't miss them.
If someone wants to meet with me or talk to me, all they need to do is call me, or stop by (assuming they know where I am). If I am available, we'll meet. It could be 10 minutes...it could be 2 hours. It doesn't really matter to me because I don't keep much of a schedule. If we're spending time constructively, I have no reason to stop. That would be silly. It's even more silly if I cut off productivity early because I scheduled something else in advance...which may or may not be as productive as what you and I were just working on.
But what if it's important...?
That's the great thing about not scheduling. I'm always working on what's important. Because my time is controlled by me and my immediate needs in work & life, I'm already participating in the most important thing at that moment. It's not controlled by another person, or worse, a calendar.
If something pressing comes up, I deal with it. There's nothing to reschedule and no one to let down that I won't be able to meet or be on time.
The idea of what's "important" is always fluid and there are so many variables. I no longer try to weigh what will be important to me at 3:30 next Thursday. I have no idea and neither do you.
A great measuring stick
Not scheduling is also an easy way for me to gauge interest. If someone is stopping by or calling me, I automatically know they need something. If I miss their attempt to connect for any reason, and they keep trying to get in touch...that tells me something. It means that when we eventually connect, they have something that's very important to them going on and I should make sure that I'm giving my full attention. They wouldn't be trying so hard otherwise.
If someone wants to get in touch one time, and then I never hear from them again...it wasn't really that important or what they needed got solved. My time wasn't wasted on a meeting or phone call and whatever I was working on at whatever time we would have scheduled got done instead of a meeting that obviously was never destined to happen in the first place. Win-win.
Respecting the time of others
Some people think that this approach is rude. That it disrespects the time of other people who are busier or have time that's more important than mine.
That is incorrect.
I simply choose not to be busy based on a calendar. I work based on what I'm motivated to work on in that moment. Because I'm a human and my moods, desires, ambitions, and attention span change constantly. I want to work on tasks when I'm at peak motivation to tackle them.
However, I do actually schedule some things. Only because they are important for me, though.
For instance, I've been a theatre nerd since I was a kid. If I make a commitment to do a show, there are times and places where I'm expected to be. And I'm there early, when I'm requested. That's because it's really important to me. If I have to make a flight, you can bet I booked that flight because it's important to me to get to the destination by that time. Otherwise I wouldn't be going. If something else comes up. I'll cancel it.
Actually calendaring stuff
So yes, I do have a calendar. And I put meetings and appointments on it. Though only really important ones I really intend to make. I'm not an anarchist.
I'm always focused on effectiveness. And calendaring vs not calendaring is a fluid process of balancing efficiency with effectiveness; you can't have both all the time. There are some people I will calendar meetings with because they know me well. They know I don't like wasting time and that any work must produce a result. So I have no problem carving out my time for them and sticking to it, barring any emergency situations.
If you find yourself on this page after I've directed you here, it's because I'm not in the head space, time, or mood to focus on anything other than what I was working on at the time. It's not that what you need from me isn't important, it's likely that with the information I have that something else appears much more important on my end.
If it's really important to you...keep trying. The important stuff always gets done when needed.
Otherwise we'd all be dead.
I use the DND(do not disturb) feature on my phone rigorously. If you call/text me and I don't answer there's a 60% chance that's why. I turn on DND when I'm really engaged with something/someone.
I also have most notifications on my phone settings permanently turned off. Even if DND is off.
If you message me on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. I won't see it until I specifically log into that site. There will be no beep, vibration, light, popup. Nothing.
The only exception is direct email, text, and Twitter. If you DM me on Twitter, I'll see that unless DND is on. That's why the contact links on this site go to my @whitsonwins twitter page instead of a contact form.
I'd like to thank Arnold Schwarzenegger for inspiring me to adopt this approach to scheduling which he talks about in his book Total Recall and has been tried by others like this article here and this post. It's really increased my productivity by focusing on what is important to me in the moment!