Spring Clean Your Schedule With This 5-Step ‘Ritual Reset’

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It’s not just your spaces that need regular decluttering. Your schedule does too.

Back at the start of the year, Canadian e-commerce company Shopify set a company-wide New Year’s resolution: hold fewer meetings. Realizing that unnecessary and overlong gatherings were crowding out more productive work, Shopify directed staff to chop all recurring meetings of more than two people and see which, if any, were missed.

We’re three months into the year now. How is the experiment going? “Shopify has deleted 12,000 events from staffers’ calendars, freeing up some 95,000 hours,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported.

That’s an incredible amount of time reclaimed from listening to Ted from accounts drone on about next quarter’s challenges. Which suggests, first and foremost, that more companies might want to consider a meeting reset (research supports this conclusion too). But why stop at the company level? And why wait for the New Year to roll around again and kick you in the pants?

Spring clean your calendar, not just your house.

Recently, on Quartz, Atlanlassian’s in-house productivity expert, Mark Cruth, explained that spring is the perfect time for professionals to give their schedules — not just their houses — a good scrub.

“It’s about this time of year when I’m hit with the spring-cleaning spirit. And I’m not just talking about clearing out an overflowing junk drawer or rearranging my home office space. I also look to dust off my calendar and clear out unnecessary work rituals that are no longer serving me,” he writes. He then walks readers through his five-step “ritual reset,” which can help individuals take a page out of Shopify’s book and reclaim tons of wasted time from their overstuffed calendars.

1. Prep

“Create 4-5 columns or headers, and label them with increasing time intervals from left to right (like daily, weekly, monthly, bi-weekly, and quarterly),” instructs Cruth. Or you can just download the handy free template he links to.

2. List

Now set a timer for 10 minutes and fill up these columns with every work-related habit or ritual you can think of. A look back at your calendar can help jog your memory.

3. Evaluate

Now it’s time for another set of columns, this time labeled “keep, change, and remove.” Put all the practices and commitments you just listed into one of these three columns. “Keep” and “remove” are pretty self-explanatory. As for “change,” Cruth notes “that could include consolidating multiple rituals or changing their frequency, duration, timing, or outcomes.”

4. Add

Are there any fresh rituals you’d like to add to your daily routine? Now is the time to consciously find a way to add them to your schedule. Cruth suggests possible additions — “things like a daily lunch break, focus-time blocks on specific days, or start/end day times” — but there are tons of resources out there suggesting rituals and daily routine tweaks that might make you more productive.

Just don’t go overboard. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. You need to leave empty space in your schedule for the unexpected crises and unplanned joys.

5. Take action

Even the most thorough and creative life audit or ritual reset is useless if you don’t actually act on the insight you gain from the exercise.

“For the rituals you own, make the changes on your calendar before you complete the reset. Change the frequency of that 1:1. Add focus-time chunks to your calendar. Remove that meeting you no longer need to attend. For the rituals you attend, capture the actions you need to take to fix these moving forward, talking with the meeting’s owner,” concludes Cruth.

While Cruth says this simple but impactful exercise is a great way to harness any spring cleaning enthusiasm that might bubble up as the days get warmer and longer, he also reminds readers this isn’t a one-and-done intervention.

No matter how shiny and sparse your calendar looks after your first “ritual reset,” time-wasting meetings and ill-considered commitments will always creep back in. Pruning back the clutter from your days, just like clearing the clutter from your spaces, should be something you tackle regularly.