Last week, I wrote about top tips for checking items off your to-do list. On the list of suggestions was using a calendar. I figured it’s worth discussing the calendar on its own. Time is a precious resource, and it feels good to use it more efficiently. Still, it’s hard not to procrastinate. Read on for some insights that will help you make the most of your calendar and your days.
Why Calendars Serve Companies and Coworkers
This article points out that time management isn’t only good for you. It’s also great for your company. Time is a precious resource for your employer as well. When employees work more efficiently, businesses save costs.
However, your calendar will also serve you personally. Being thoughtful about your time will undoubtedly help you get more done. If you plan well, you can eliminate a lot of the time that gets wasted on your phone. That doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks, though. Instead, you’ll be able to plan for breaks better and replace stress with satisfaction. Keeping your calendar can even help you free up more time. That’s because you’ll see what meetings you’re scheduled to attend and probably find some you can safely skip. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to use that time to make up for the planning fallacy. Research has found that we chronically underestimate how long it will take us to finish a task. That’s a classic cognitive heuristic to watch out for. Keeping more open time in your calendar can help you address it.
Lastly, your coworkers will appreciate it when you take control of your calendar! Gone will be the days of accidentally double booking yourself. Instead, you’ll be able to share a link to your calendar for others to schedule with ease. This article notes some big pros of that approach. For instance, you’ll stop wasting time on back-and-forth emails to schedule. Instead, people who want to meet with you will immediately be able to see your availability. They’ll know that you have time blocked off for them when that meeting rolls around. It’s win-win!
Leadership’s Role in Scheduling
As with many good workplace habits, it’s up to leadership to set the tone. This Entrepreneur article explains the benefits of getting all employees to use and share online calendars. For instance, schedules become accessible from multiple devices. Plus, it’s easy to set up recurring meetings for teams that way. Finally, as mentioned above, scheduling conflicts are easy to spot and prevent when everyone’s coordinating calendars.
Of course, it’s important to make a transition to any new technology the right way. You should always offer training opportunities to help employees familiarize themselves with new software. Then, be sure to include fun events on your organization’s calendar in addition to obligation. That includes the holiday parties, award celebrations, and social events for networking. Finally, respect employees’ privacy. No one should need to be accountable for every second of their day. That’s basic knowledge for a great manager, as I explained in this earlier blog post.
Meetings are a special topic. This Forbes article has a lot of guidance for leaders about handling meetings. For instance, every meeting should have an agenda. Whoever is invited should also know in advance what they’ll be expected to contribute. If a meeting is primarily intended to inform someone of an update, consider just sending an email with notes after. You don’t want to waste employees’ precious time. Certainly some meetings are very productive. However, it’s important to audit your organization or team’s recurring meetings. On a quarterly basis, evaluate whether all your scheduled meetings are still a good use of time. You might be able to make a weekly meeting biweekly, for instance, to save some time. If you can afford to schedule no meeting days, that’s great too.
Making Your Calendar Work for You
What if you’re just a small fish with meetings being added to your calendar left and right? You can still take charge of the situation. As this article advises, say no to any unnecessary meetings. When you do have to attend them, don’t forget to eat snacks in between to keep up your energy! This Forbes article also encourages you to plan for downtime.
In general, you can customize your calendar to work for your needs. For instance, figure out what times of day are most productive for you. On the converse, when are you inclined to procrastinate? Be mindful of your patterns when you schedule events and tasks. Also, as this article advises, you should make a regular habit of planning ahead. You can look at what you got done in the last week to get a sense of what’s realistic for the week ahead. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Only schedule events and tasks you’ll actually be able to get to.
Lastly, take advantage of technology. Choose a calendar app that works for you. It’s probably a good idea to find one that incorporates reminders. You can use these to be sure you’re prepared for important presentations when they roll around. You can also color code entries. Consider breaking up tasks and events by theme and assigning each one a color. That way, your brain can make sense of your calendar at a glance. And of course, be smart about how you name calendar invites. Include the name of the team or person you’re meeting in the title. Plus, be sure there’s a time zone specified! With all the benefits of remote work come some dangers. Leverage your online calendar to avoid those pitfalls and stay on track for peak productivity.
A Working Parent’s Lifesaver
If you’re a working parent, you might be thinking, “Sure, this is great in the workplace. But how can I balance work and home responsibilities at once?” That’s because workplaces often don’t understand the needs of employees from underrepresented categories, like parents. The shortcomings of paid leave policies in the US reflect that. It becomes imperative for working moms to take the burden of invisible labor off themselves through creative strategies.
Fortunately, this HBR article has got your back. It’s full of great ideas for you to manage your family’s calendar without getting overwhelmed. First, make a shared calendar accessible. This can mean making it on an app or hanging it in a central location at home. Next, color code by family member. Be sure you’ve noted recurring family events too. You’ll also want to make sure you get time for chores planned out. For instance, who is available to get groceries and when? No need for that to stay invisible! Perhaps most importantly, make time for quality time. If multiple family members work from home, this can even happen during breaks in your workdays.
To keep this calendar functioning, decide how events get added. Some family members can’t or won’t remember to add events themselves. That’s fine! Just decide in advance who will be responsible for helping them. Also, you should share your calendar with nannies or anyone else who helps out with childcare. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Finally, sit down with your co-parent or other caregivers on a regular basis to review the calendar. You don’t want to discover a scheduling conflict as it’s playing out. Instead, anticipate tricky moments and find solutions together.
Time Boxing Without Boxing Yourself In
I wanted to leave you with one strategy that some people swear by. It’s even been featured in news stories and is touted as a surefire way to beat time management stress. Yes, I’m talking about time boxing. (It’s also referred to as time blocking.) Sourced in Agile methodology, this strategy involves breaking up your day into uninterrupted chunks that focus on one thing at a time. This strategy improves your focus, decreases multitasking, and improves productivity for many people. You might want to check it out!
While you’re at it, check out Pyrus as well. Pyrus has the ability to organize your tasks in a calendar automatically. Based on listed due dates and set reminders, Pyrus will do the work of creating a productive calendar for you! You’ll be able to see tasks assigned to you, plus those you’ve delegated to others. When a task is overdue, the color will automatically switch to red. Besides that, color coding your calendar is super easy. With the flexibility to switch between four display modes, this is guaranteed to become your go-to digital calendar. And if you have one already? No problem. Pyrus integrates with whatever software you prefer. Make time today to look into this solution. Like a good calendar, Pyrus moves work forward.