Ahh, an empty calendar. All that free time and possibility, all the things you're going to get done -- until, that is, your coworkers see that free time and fill it jam-packed with meetings and obligations. Before that happens again, you have to get on the defensive.
You can be more strategic than stretching a five-hour "DO NOT SCHEDULE" across your day. Make Use Of has a good list of specific time slots to block off to ensure a calmer and more productive workday:
- Thirty minutes to get your day started
- Fifteen to 30 minutes immediately after a meeting for action items
- Two-hour blocks of "deep work" time for focus
- One hour per day to respond to unexpected, urgent requests
- Twenty to 30 minutes at the end of every day to wrap up and get ready for tomorrow
Your calendar will look full, but you'll know that the time blocked off is yours.