How do you manage your calendar?

Summer is moving along at a fair clip so far. My July calendar is jam packed with activity and there sure is a lot going on.  Son’s birthday trip to Chicago, major tree trimming project, installation of hardwood floor, work travel, major seminar rewrites/presentation planning, listening sessions for my new Iron Maiden records, and a few days’ vacation at the beach are but a few things on my July plan.

Yet I am not overwhelmed.

The key here is planning. Today I will be looking hard at my Q3 plan to ensure it still fits into the bigger scheme then dialing in the week ahead.  With work life keeping me on the road and family/home life keeping me hopping, it is critical that I take the time to manage the plan.

I ask some basic questions. Where is the calendar or my time overextended?  Am I managing major projects with the proper amount of overlap?  Can I avoid being in two places at once?  Does my calendar align with my family’s?  Am I meeting the demands of my family and job well enough?  And am I leaving myself enough time for my hobbies and health?

My calendars cover 2 areas: family life and job life. I manage this in peaceful (usually) coexistence with my wife’s and my boss’s calendars and I use technology to do so.   Google Calendar has been a fantastic tool for my wife and me to juggle our schedules and fortunately, I am often able to plan my work travel around family situations that demand I remain local.  Likewise, I can plan my family activities around my work activities so I can handle the sometimes extraordinary demands of work.

The key is that I have to stay on top of it. I couple tips that help me do that:

  1. Long range planning – I look at the overall family plan and work plan over the next 6-12 months to get a general sense of where I need to be doing what. Work travel gets the edge here since I am covering 7 plants, 4 of which demand out of state travel.
  2. Medium range planning – This is my 3-6 months plan, generally. I fine tune my travel schedule with my family plan. This is where I lock in a contractor for a floor installation or plan to paint a bedroom.
  3. Short range planning – This is when the rubber hits the road and I start planning the specific hours and days for the next 1-3 months.  For example, this weekend we are taking the birthday trip, preparing and dropping our son off at a weeklong camp, clearing out the bedroom for flooring installation, installing the floor, getting a very large tree trimmed, putting the bedroom back together, and chilling the afternoon of the 4th rewriting my seminar presentations the remainder of the week.  All these activities over the course of 5 days require planning the hours and sometimes minutes.

I am a firm believer that many of us operate out of fear and when my calendar is in disarray and when I find myself hopping from one unplanned thing to the next and pissing people off in the process, my fear level goes up and things only get worse.

I urge you to take a look at your calendars. Use the technology, work together, and get shit done.  And remember to plan some time for yourself.

Thanks for dropping by.


Did I spell that right?

So recently I came across three examples of words misspelled in a public setting.  I know we all see this from time to time.

Yesterday, I came across two.  One was a car dealership in Burlington, Iowa that is listing on the large sign in front of their store advertising a Ford Ecsape for sale.  Oops.

The second was on LinkedIn for a digital image of a flyer stating “Acheiving Excellence….”

The third one I actually spotted a couple months ago and it threw me off a bit.  I had to look it up.  The word was on the sign out in front of a public library that had been promoting an essential oils class that was cancelled.  The word was spelled canceled.  I did not realize until I looked it up later that there are actually two correct spellings of the word cancelled.  Or canceled.  So I am giving the library the benefit of the doubt because perhaps the signage was intentional although I can’t be sure.  Maybe they just got lucky.  at any rate, I learned something from it.

The dealership and the LinkedIn post, however, are business-related and I guess my lesson here is that sometimes it matters.  Misspelling the word acheiving when used with the word excellence is not a good thing when promoting such things.  And maybe nobody noticed Ecsape other than me nor might it detract from someone buying the vehicle.

But it means a couple employees were less diligent than they should be and while these might not be critical errors, business owners might be asking what else are they missing that may be critical.

Thanks for stopping by.




Welcome to my inaugural blog on the new site.  I’m sorry to say that I just took down my Bates Management Services website but found it to be a bit irrelevant for what I’m doing and I could no longer justify the time or the spend.  It was a site that I was proud of, it’s many iterations of my own design.  Nothing fancy, just mine.   It served me well, so long old friend.

So now Throughput – Michael’s Blog has migrated to this new blog site, where I will continue to post my thoughts, and other’s insights, into the areas of Operational Excellence, Lean Six Sigma, Project and Program Management, and General and Operations Management.

One thought as I close this brief introductory blog, is that I am still amazed, that as large and seemingly infinite as Google is, that their support is as adept as it is.  I’m in Nowhere, Iowa with some critical questions last night and within 10 minutes of initiating an online chat with support, I once again found them to be prompt , knowledgeable, and helpful in resolving my issues.

See you soon, thanks for dropping by.