“A busy calendar is a death of creativity.” ~ Naval Ravikant
When Naval was running Angellist his calendar was booked end to end with meeting after meeting.
Everyone who’s run even a small enterprise knows what kind of meetings these are. CEOs are in meetings to either make high-stakes choices between uncertain options or deal with complex people problems. Either way, he was drained at the end of each day.
Creating more creative time
To fix this, he declared two days of his week off limits for meetings. No meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays! Now he could get back to deep work, thinking, and creative problem-solving, right?
Instead, he found that while he had been booked all day, there were important problems he’d been ignoring because he didn’t have time to deal with them. “You’re not addressing those problems; you’re running from them. You’re just hopping from meeting to meeting to meeting.”
So when he did open up time on his calendar, all those issues popped into his head like little gremlins! He couldn’t focus on the strategic challenges he was drawn to until he cleared the backlog of issues he’d ignored.
When leaders I work with finally book a day for deep, strategic work, I see this same pattern. They book a day away and come back frustrated because they surfaced so many new unresolved issues.
Clearing the backlog
For Naval it took a year. A year of holding his Tuesdays and Thursdays free of meetings so that he could focus on the deeper, strategic work he knew needed to be done until his head cleared enough for creativity, insights, and breakthroughs to occur.
Your business isn’t as big or complicated as Angellist. You might only need to block one day on your calendar for 3 months to clear your backlog. But you will need to persist even when it feels like that free day is producing more new issues than it’s resolving.
What would happen in your business if you freed one whole day a week of meetings?
If you want to hear Naval talk about this in his own words, check out his interview with Matt Mochary