Lately there’s a lot of talk about how time is our most precious asset, and that ‘busy is the new stupid’. All very well, and probably true, but let’s face it most of us ARE very busy with multiple demands on our time, all coming at us constantly.

Finding the time in your schedule to answer e-mails, read reports or even just think a bit, is hard – so you end up doing e-mails in bed, not reading any reports and doing precious little thinking. But a good question is: Who really owns your schedule?

When you are asked to attend a meeting at 10 am but you already have a client meeting at that time you just say ‘Sorry. No can’t do it’– you don’t feel guilty or unprofessional. Nobody questions you about it. Everybody has commitments, right? But if we have set time aside just for ourself we somehow feel guilty if someone else wants us to use that time differently. However, that time is just as important, maybe vitally so, for you to perform at your best.

So, block yourself 90 minutes in your schedule, label it "ER & T Committee", (E-mailing, Reading and Thinking) and then stick to it. Don’t let anyone bump you off that spot. No-one will ever question what you are doing, and the other meetings will get re-scheduled.

You get 90 minutes to do what you really need to do and as a result you will feel better, more in control, and be a happier and more effective employee. Try it this week.

Recognize that you own your schedule, and don’t allow yourself to be bullied out of time you allocate to yourself.