8 Great Tips for Effective Calendar Management
Calendar management is one of the most essential components of proper time management. When you effectively manage your calendar, you’ll have a better idea of how much time you have to get things done. This allows you to get things done and avoid dropping the ball by missing meetings or deadlines.
The following are eight great tips to help you effectively manage your calendar and get more done.
1. Pick a calendar and stick with it.
Figure out what kind of calendar works best for you and stick with that system. If you prefer a print calendar or planner, make sure you write down all of your important meetings and appointments in that planner. If you’re using a digital calendar, make sure to enter everything on that calendar.
Most smartphones have a built-in calendar app. Google Calendar is also a great app to help you organize your activities and schedule. If you need to coordinate schedules between multiple people, Google Calendar allows you to have shared calendars across devices.
2. Analyze your existing time management skills.
Take a week and write down everything you need to do. List appointments, meetings, projects, and other activities. Carefully consider how much time you need to get each thing done. Once you’ve estimated how long something will take, put it into your calendar.
At the end of the week, consider how much you got done and what areas may need a little extra attention. If you’re habitually under-estimating how long something takes, you might find yourself scurrying to get things done right before a deadline.
3. Choose what things you’ll put on your calendar.
There are several things you should always put in your calendar. These things include fixed appointments, meetings, and other events that occur at a specific time for a specific duration. Always list these things to prevent double-booking or missed meetings.
However, there are also things you may choose to add to your calendar. These things include time to work on specific projects, intentional breaks, and other flexible appointments you make with yourself.
Most productivity experts advise against scheduling your tasks in your day. Instead, use a to-do list app to keep track of tasks to complete. As you plan your calendar, set aside blocks of time to tackle items on your to-do list. If an item wraps up sooner than anticipated, you have more time to move on to the next item on your list.
4. Take advantage of color-coding to organize your calendar events.
Whether you use different colored pens on a print calendar or different color tags on your smartphone’s calendar app, color-coding your calendar can help you visualize your week at a glance. Use different colors for business activities, meetings, and personal commitments.
5. Schedule buffer time on your calendar.
Without fail, some things will take longer than expected. Whether you’re interrupted with an urgent call or hit a roadblock on a project, you might spend more time than anticipated on certain tasks. Your calendar should have enough breathing room to allow you to either take a break or catch up between commitments.
These blocks of buffer time don’t have to be long. However, scheduling an extra fifteen minutes between events gives you time to go to the bathroom, get a snack, reply to email, or complete another task.
6. Use batch scheduling to maximize your efficiency.
Try to group similar activities together on your calendar to get more done. For example, you should try to schedule your meetings together when possible. This allows you to get your meetings done in one period of time instead of interrupting the rest of your week with a spread-out meeting schedule.
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot multi-task. Instead, your brain is forced to switch between the tasks, even if you manage to do it rapidly. You’ll always get things done faster when you focus on one thing at a time. Time is wasted if you’re constantly switching between tasks.
As you plan your week, try to group similar activities and appointments together. This will free up larger blocks of time for you to get concentrated work done.
7. Look at your calendar at the beginning of each week and at the start of each morning.
Putting events into your calendar isn’t enough. Take time each week to carefully look at both your calendar and your to-do list for the week. This will help you get into the right frame of mind for the week ahead. It will also help you keep track of your commitments.
Start your workday by spending ten minutes looking at both your calendar and your to-do list for the day. When you have a grasp of how much needs to get done, you’re better equipped to complete the work in front of you.
At the end of each day, spend some time planning your schedule for the following day. If there are incompleted items from today’s to-do list, find a spot on tomorrow’s schedule to get them done.
8. Schedule large blocks of time to get stuff done.
Make sure to set aside time in your schedule to get things done. While small tasks like responding to email can be done in small chunks of time, there are certain projects that need large portions of uninterrupted time.
As you look at your workweek, try to schedule a couple of blocks of time to dedicate to completing items on your to-do list. Set aside between two and four-hour blocks of time, since these longer periods of time allow you to really dig into difficult projects.
During these longer blocks of time, turn off your phone’s notifications and shut your office door. Block out any distractions until you’ve used up your entire block of productive time.