calendar Archives - Appointment - Online Appointment Scheduling Software

Calendar Spam is a Problem (How to Fix)

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments
Calendar Spam is a Problem (How to Fix)

First, there was email spam. Then came text spam. Now, as more people use digital calendars on their computers and calendar apps on their mobile devices, many people get digital calendar spam. That means more clutter in our in-box from people we don’t know. Calendar invite spam has to stop.

A New Frontier For Spamming

Spammers are always looking for that way in to get their messages or links in front of more people. Now, they’ve found that they can take advantage of Google’s convenient email and calendar integration feature to inundate more people with their junk. Spammers previously went after Apple to exploit a similar calendar invite feature a few years ago.

Created as a way to help Google Calendar users save time with scheduling and meeting invites, the Google Calendar invite feature lets you  automatically add meeting invites to your calendar.  Although the meeting invite only appears as an outline until the recipient selects “yes” or “no,” the meeting invite still appears on a user’s Google Calendar.

The Calendar Invite Spam Threat is Real

Spammers have upped their game with this ploy. When a user clicks on the event description within that meeting invite, it reveals a spam message, which can have malicious links embedded in it. Spammers want users to cllick on those links, of course, because it can lead to the potential of capturing personal information. If a user does click on the link, it tells the spammer that it’s an active email account. From there, the spammer can inundate the user with unsolicited emails.

Except for the spammers, no one, including Google, is pleased with this new scheme. Google has reiterated its privacy policy and focus on protecting its users. Plus, the company has provided guidance on how to address calendar invite spam.

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Google Calendar

There are some quick ways to shut down calendar spam notifications from within your Google Calendar.

  1. Open your Google Calendar.
  2. Click on the gear icon, which is located at the top of the Google Calendar page.
  3. Select “Settings” from this menu.
  4. Next, choose “Event settings” from the list located on the left side.
  5. Change the “Automatically add invitations” option to the other choice listed, which is “No, only show invitations to which I have responded.” This means a meeting will only be added to your Google Calendar if you accept the meeting invite.

This process should remove all calendar invite spam from your Google Calendar so you can stop wasting your time opening invites that aren’t real and minimize your risk for becoming a victim of something more malicious.

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Apple Calendar

You may also receive calendar spam in your Yahoo Calendar. Yahoo has a very basic process for dealing with these spam Calendar invitations. Yahoo recommends treating the calendar invite spam like normal spam email by clicking the ‘spam’ button.

From there, you have to delete the individual event from your calendar separately. Choose the option that says “Delete” when clicking on the event. Don’t respond to the invitation itself or click any of the notifications within the invitation like where it says “Decline” because this will send a response to the spammer, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Then, you can also report calendar invite spam to Yahoo.

Remain Vigilant

Spammers will continue to “innovate” their exploitive tactics by studying new software and app features to get what they want. To slow the pace of spammers’ efforts and perhaps even discourage them, it’s important that we all remain vigilant when it comes to understanding and blocking their schemes.

Here’s to a spam free calendar in the coming years!

The 10 Best Calendar Apps (What You Should Look For)

By | Time Management | No Comments
How to Handle Internet Outages When You Schedule Appointments Online

Perhaps the number one reason why we’re addicted to smartphones is that they contain our entire lives in the device. You can check-in with friends, family, and clients, while booking a flight, running your business, and listening to a podcast. Here’s what you should look for in the ten best calendar apps.

But, they’re always useful in organizing our lives. Especially when you have the following ten calendar apps.

1. Calendar

Tired of those back-and-forth emails when scheduling a meeting or appointment? If so, then Calendar has got you covered.

This handy app lets you share your availability with others through an embedded link or email. This way, they can find a date and time that works for them. Once they do, the event is added to everyone’s online calendars.

Calendar can also harness the power of machine learning. Machine learning means that it uses previous data to make smart scheduling suggestions, such as when, where, and what types of meetings you should schedule.

You can also easily create an event using natural language, while the map view gives you a glance at your upcoming schedule.

2. Fantastical 2

This iPhone app has often be cited as the best calendar app for the iPhone. That’s because it’s packed with features, such as:

  • Multiple views including a list view in portrait mode by either week or month or a landscape mode for a week “block” view.
  • Supports multiple languages, like English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.
  • Ability to create event using natural language.
  • Also, it works with the iPad and Apple Watch.
  • The addition of the view widget — replaces the stock iOS Calendar widget. With this extension, you get a snapshot of your day without opening the app.

You will have to purchase Fantastical 2 for $4.99.

3. Google Calendar

While this stock calendar comes preinstalled in every Android device, Apple users can download it as well. They probably should go ahead and do that.

With a free account, this powerful app will events and schedules from your Google account. If you used your Gmail address to book a flight, hotel room, or doctor’s appointment, the date and time would be added to the calendar. You’ll then receive a reminder through a push notification on your phone when the event approaches.

When creating events, you can color-code your calendar so that you can quickly identify the various types of activities you have scheduled.

4. Calendars 5

If you’re curious, this is the fifth version of Readdle’s Calendars app. That explains why it’s called Calendars 5. It also means that the developers had plenty of opportunities to make this iPhone app as high as possible.

Calendars 5 comes with features like several view options; list view, day view, week view, and month view, as well as an integrated task manager and ability to enter events using natural language. Additional features include being able to create custom alerts, recurring events, and sharing your tasks and activities with others.

5. Microsoft Calendar

For business owners, it’s tough to find a better suite of tools than Microsoft Office 365 — although Google is pretty much right at the top as well. That’s because this app combines your emails, calendar, and much more into one convenient location.

The calendar itself is loaded with functions like being able to import or export to other calendars and share your calendar with others. You can also personalize your calendar using add-ons, like getting a weather report, automating responses to invites, receiving reminders, and receiving an agenda in your email every morning.

6. Tiny Calendar

If you want a simple calendar app that’s available for either Android or iOS, then look no further. Tiny Calendar is a straightforward calendar app where you can view multiple layouts. You can create emails or push notification reminders, and make edits offline. You can even use your device’s GPS to add specific locations to events, and it syncs with other calendars, such as Google Calendar.

The free version should be enough if you need the basics. The paid version — which is $7 — comes with additional features like accepting and sending invites. It also exports other calendars and can create recurring events.

7. Jorte Calendar

Jorte isn’t just another calendar app. It’s also an organizer where you can take notes and manage tasks. It also integrates with Google Calendar, Evernote, and Microsoft Office to make your life run a bit smoother. And, it works for Android and iOS.

As for the calendar itself, it’s pretty solid. There are daily, weekly, or monthly views, the ability to create recurring events, and there are even countdown features that let you know how much time is remaining for a specific event.

For the more robust features, you’ll have to select the Jorte Premium option at $3 per month or $30 for the year.

8. SolCalendar

SolCalendar is known for being one of the most well-designed calendar apps on the market. Some people claim that it’s more of a life management tool than just your standard calendar app.

This app comes with a widget so that you receive a summary of your most important activities. There are stickers and emojis for marking select dates. You can also receive weather reports, share your calendar with others, and integrates with Google Tasks.

Best of all? It’s free for Android users to download.

9. TimeTree

Do you need an app to keep your family or team on the same page? Then download this free app for both Android and Apple users.

With TimeTree, you can share everything from work schedules to tasks to notes. This way, your team knows when you away on travel while your family knows when your flight arrives. It also ensures that every family or team member stays on-top of assigned tasks. You can also send reminders to others.

10. 24me

Finally, there’s this handy personal assistant that comes equipped with a calendar, to-do list, and notes. This way, you can automate everything from paying bills to wishing a happy friend’s birthday. It has reminders — like calling a client or scheduling appointments — by linking to your contacts. You can link to Facebook, TaskRabbit, and your bank account.

Put, if you want to stay on top of your bills, remember birthdays, schedule events, and manage your to-do list, this is the app for you.

The free app is available for Android and iOS.

Criteria for an Amazing Calendar App

What makes these apps considered the best? It’s because they fit the following criteria:

  • Can easily and quickly view appointments — preferably in a click or two.
  • Can easily add, edit, or search for appointments, like being able to use natural language.
  • Integrates with the apps you use daily, such as Calendar or Google Calendar.
  • It is compatible with all of the devices you use. For example, if you have all Apple products, then go with Fantastical 2. If you have a Samsung phone and iPad, then you’ll want an app that works on both Android and iOS.
  • Comes with a clean and contemporary design.
  • Integrates with your email — not a problem if using Calendar, Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook.
  • Allows you to schedule an unlimited amount of appointments.
  • Has the features you need. If you work with a team, for example, then you need to be able to share your calendar with others. If not pre-installed, then look for an app that can be customized to meet your needs.

What criteria do you look for when choosing a calendar app?

Top 15 Calendar Planning Tools That Will Help You Love Your Calendar

By | Scheduling | No Comments

If you want to be more organized and productive than you absolutely need to be — use a calendar. But let’s be honest here. Calendars, while essential and useful — aren’t exactly the most fun. You just add an event to your calendar and that’s it.

How about some calendar planning tools?

Fortunately, you can use these 15 calendar planning tools to not only get organized and boost your productivity, but to also make you fall in love with your calendar.

1. Calendar

Let’s say you just made some high-profiles connections at a recent networking event. You want to follow-up with these individuals so you send them an email or text asking when they’re available to meet. Next thing you know you’ve exchanged several messages without finding an ideal time to meet-up.

Calendar eliminates those time-and-consuming back-and-forth emails for you.

A simple share.

Simply share your Google, Outlook, or iCloud calendar with others via an email or embedded link. After viewing your availability, they’ll pick a date and time that works for them. Once they’ve selected a meeting time the event is added to everyone’s calendar.

Machine learning.

Because this scheduling app uses machine learning it can also make smart suggestion on where, when, and what how your meetings can take place. In other words, this handy tool automates the scheduling process for you.

2. Plan

Most of us use several different tools throughout the day. As a result we spend a lot of time switching between applications. Even worse, we may make some innocent mistakes when planning our our calendars — like forgetting you agreed to meet with a colleague for lunch when you already committed to a meeting with a client.

Plan resolves this problem by syncing tools like your email, calendar, Salesforce, Zendesk, JIRA, and Github. Now you have a real-time dashboard to see who and when are handling specific tasks. This ultimately ensures that you and those in your life will never drop the ball on any task, meeting, or project again.

3. Fantastical 2

This is a robust and popular iOS app that provides a clear presentation of you events in either a daily, weekly, or monthly view. But that’s just the beginning. With Fantastical 2 you can set geofence or time reminders, time to leave notifications, and view the availability of your coworkers. If you need to add an event you can use natural language to do so with ease.

Today Widget

There’s also the handy “Today Widget” that allows you to easily view and manage your schedule on your desktop without having to open the app, your email, or any other tool that displays your schedule.

Fantastical 2 supports iCloud, Google, Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo, and any other CalDAV account.

4. DayViewer

This free online calendar comes with a daily, weekly, or monthly planner. You can also also add notes and create tasks and reminders. If you want to achieve goals you can record your days to see when you’re most productive and when you get distracted.

Assign and discuss tasks.

If working with others you can assign and discuss tasks so that there is no miscommunication when working on a project.

DayViewer is also working on an appointment booking system so that clients can book time with you without exchanging emails, texts, or phone calls.

5. Informant 5

Informant 5 is a powerful multipurpose calendar, tasks, and notes tool. You can create color-coded calendars and use emoticons in your calendar view. The popular 30 day view with “mini text,” uses Travel Assist to manage time zones, travel ETAs, and suggest locations when you create events.

Using natural language.

Additionally, Informat 5 lets you organize tasks into projects, create checklists, task modes like Simple, GTD, or Franklin Covey, and import reminders. You can even turn emails into tasks and use natural language to create tasks.

While there is a free version, you may want to opt for one of the subscription models to unlock the features you’ll really need.

6. Teamweek

Teamweek is a free online calendar planner that’s perfect for project managers, event planners, HR managers, and anyone who is working with a team. That’s because it’s a straightforward online calendar that lets you set deadlines, see who’s working on what in real time, check availability, and add notes.

You can also use Teamweek for scheduling appointments or meeting with clients by simply sharing a view only version of your calendar.

You can take this tool with you.

Besides the desktop version, you can take the tool with you on the go by either downloading the app on the App Store or Google Play.

7. Wunderlist

If you want to get your life more organized than give Wunderlist a spin. It’s a collaborative tool that makes coordinating with colleagues, family, and friends a cinch — since you just share todos, lists, and tasks with them.

Sharing and reminding.

You can also add reminders and set due dates for these items. If you do you and your collaborators will receive email, push, and in-app notifications.

Wunderlist also lets you track, complete, and share your goals with just the click of one-button. You can also assign tasks, add comments, and group related tasks in accessible calendar.

Available on most sites.

Wunderlist is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, as well as OS X and Windows; and Google Chrome.

8. RescueTime

RescueTime is a time management app that you can use to make sure that your days are as productive as possible. That’s because the app records how and where you spend your time.

Analyzes time spent on activities.

By analyzing the time you spend on emails, your favorite websites, or with meetings you have an accurate picture of what you days look like. You can then make the appropriate changes.

Alarm.

For example, if you’re spending 2 hours per day on emails, you can set a goal to spend less than an hour daily on emails. The app will then send you an alarm if you’re spend more than an hour going through emails. It will also block distracting distractions websites so that you can stay focused.

Once you know how you spend your days and improve your productivity, you can create a calendar that encourage you to be more productive and efficient.

9. ZenDay

This award-winning time management app, which is available on Google Play and the App Store, takes a timeline-style approach to managing your schedule. This is accomplished by a fluid 3D timeline where you can view all of your upcoming reminders, deadlines, tasks, and events in your calendar that are based on priority.

Syncs well.

ZenDay allows you to quickly add events, meeting, or reminders directly in the app or just allow it to sync with your existing calendar. You can then set deadlines and start dates.

One of the more unique features is the debrief mode which allows you to view how well you’ve kept up with your schedule in the previous weeks.

10. Day by Day Organizer

If you use Google Calendar and have an Android device then you can use this tool to plan your schedule and maintain to-do lists, as well view them in different formats across all your devices. So instead of bouncing between several applications you can view all of your events, appointments, and tasks from this app. Because it syncs with Google Calendar and Google information is shared automatically.

Voice will send to different sites.

For example, if you just made a doctor’s appointment, you speak into your phone or desktop and add the event in the Day by Day Organizer. The app will then add your doctor’s appointment to your Google Calendar.

One of the coolest features, however, is that if you don’t check-off a task it will automatically be moved to the following day.

11. TimeTune

This nifty app can be used as a calendar, timetable or daily planner, daily task reminder, time manager, routine schedule organizer, or productivity management tool.

Custom notification and tags.

You can then create custom notifications, such as by sound, popup, or vibration. You can also generate custom tags to easily identify activities and color-code your calendar so you can quickly glance at day, week, or month.

You can even create routines and schedules for others, like your family or employees, so that they can also stay organized and productive.

12. Any.do

Want to keep your life organized? There may be no better tool to accomplish this then Any.do. It’s an intuitive and straightforward planner where you keep all of your tasks, todos, lists, and reminder in one location.

Award winning app.

The calendar feature lets you manage and view your day, week, or month. And, this award-winning app also comes with the Any.do assistant that will handle all of your recurring tasks for your.

Any.do works seamlessly with Google Calendar, iCal, and Exchange Calendar. It also syns quickly across Android, iOS, web, and desktop. It even works with Alexa so that you can verbally add reminders or events or hear what you have planned for a specific day. It’s also been seen as a top calendar app as well.

13. HabitBull

Are you looking for a tool to help you break a bad habit or build some positive ones? If so, then HabitBull is just what you nee.

HabitBull is a smart tracker available for both iOS and Android based on Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” productivity hack. This allows you to mark off the successful days that you completed a goal, such doing 20 push-up or reading for 15-minutes a day.

Give yourself a star with goals completed.

Each habit comes with its own calendar. And there’s also reminders and graphs to help you stay on-track.

Additionally, there are discussion forums so that you can connect with other trackers and motivational quotes to help keep you focused and inspired.

14. Basecamp

Basecamp is one of the most popular project management tools on the market. And for good reason. The app’s dashboard display your team’s discussions, to-do lists, and events in one convenient location. This way everyone can stay on the same page throughout the course of a project.

View and track progress.

With Basecamp you can also view and track your team’s progress without nagging them for status updates. This way you know exactly what everyone is working-on today, tomorrow, and next so that you can plan accordingly.

You can also embed images into messages, comment directly on lists and tasks, attach code samples, and forward emails into Basecamp. Again, this keeps everyone in the loop, while also freeing up your calendar from sending these messages individually or switching between multiple communication tools.

15. Canva

Canva is an amazing tool that allows you to design anything. This includes logos, cards, brochures, newsletters, and infographics. You can also use Canva to create your own personalized calendar or personal daily, weekly, or monthly planner.

Lets you start from scratch.

Instead of using a generic template Canva lets you start from scratch. This means you can use whatever images, fonts, background, and colors you like. You can further customize your pages by breaking your days into hourly blocks or making sure that there’s plenty of space to jot down todos, lists, and notes.

After you’ve created your own calendar or planner you can share it as a PDF file, via email, or on social channels like Facebook or Twitter.

100 Calendar Tips Only Productive People Use

By | Time Management | No Comments
4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Schedule

Everyone wants to live a more productive existence as it provides for a more enjoyable, fulfilled life. However, most people don’t realize that one of the most effective ways of achieving these ambitions is through their calendar. It’s not the sexiest task. But, properly managing your calendar ensures that you have complete control of your valuable time.

So, without further ado, here are 100 calendar tips that the most productive people live by.

1. Know your goals.

What do goals have to do with your calendar? Well, anything that you put into your calendar should be related to the goals you’ve — both short and long-term. It’s the best way to ensure that you’re spending your time on productive and meaningful activities and events.

2. Find a calendar that works for you.

Don’t settle for the default calendar on your phone. Matter of fact, if you think it’s more of a nuisance, don’t use an online calendar at all. Stick with a traditional paper calendar.

Regardless if you go paper, digital, or use a combination of both, the only way you’ll get the most out of a calendar is to find one that fits your needs and style.

For example, Google Calendar and Office 365 Calendar are excellent choices for your professional life. Cozi is used to manage a family’s schedule. And, Teamwork is a shared calendar designed for keeping teams on track towards a common goal.

3. Know your calendar like the back of your hand.

After you’ve found your preferred calendar, spend the time getting to know what it can do, as well as its limitations. The action you take might be to learn keyboard shortcuts to the latest hacks.

4. Don’t rely just on your calendar.

Most online calendars are already powerful tools. But, you can make your calendar a more effective and efficient tool by pairing it with other available tools. Calendar can take care of all your scheduling needs, while project management tools like Basecamp keep your team on the same page while collaborating.

5. Create an annual plan.

Developing an annual plan will make managing your calendar and time much more straightforward. I know it takes a time commitment upfront. But you’ll be grateful when you aren’t facing scheduling conflicts as the year goes on.

To get started, create a template that includes crucial items like meetings, birthdays, holidays, travel, vacations, and industry events.

6. Design your ideal week.

Michael Hyatt writes that “The idea is similar to a financial budget. The only difference is that you plan how you will spend your time rather than your money. And like a financial budget, you spend it on paper first.”

For Hyatt, his ideal week is one where “I would live if I could control 100% of what happens.” He divides his schedule into a simple grid and assigns a theme to each day that’s “segmented according to a specific focus area.”

7. Start your week on Sunday.

I’m not suggesting that you go into work on a Sunday. Instead, Sundays should be used to plan for the upcoming week. Review your calendar so that you can prepare. Pick-out your clothes for the week. Prepare all of your meals and run any errands. Getting tasks done and over with will essentially put the upcoming week on autopilot.

8. Establish a daily routine.

Speaking of automating your time, develop a morning and evening routine so that you know how you’re spending your time before and after work. Routines and habits also set you up for success since they give you a chance to set goals, review your calendar so that you aren’t surprised by any last-minute changes, prevent you from rushing around, and ensures that you have time to rest and do what you enjoy.

9. One calendar to rule them all.

You don’t want to feel your calendar with too much clutter. Do you need to put in your calendar habits like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast? But, your primary calendar should include all of your important tasks and appointments for both your personal and professional lives. It makes organizing your life much more comfortable and prevents any possible conflicts from arising.

10. You gotta keep them separated (optional).

If you do decide to use multiple calendars for various parts of your life, make sure that you keep them separate to prevent any confusion. Another reason why you would want to use more than one calendar is that it will avert your calendar from getting too packed and messy.

11. Import and sync your other calendar(s).

Whether you’re using a master calendar or several different ones, make sure that they’re imported and synched across the board. It’s the best way to avoid any scheduling conflicts since you can access and edit your calendar wherever and whenever you want.

You should also connect your calendar to tools like Slack and voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home to create a seamless calendar experience.

12. Find the greatest view.

You have the option to change the view of your online calendar. Personally, I like only looking at the current workweek. I’ve found that I’m in the month view, I get distracted on what I have to the rest of the month instead of focusing on right now.

Experiment with various views, like daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever you think will be the most productive calendar view for you.

13. Your calendar should be like a rainbow.

By this, I mean color-coding your calendar so that you can quickly identify entries without having to open your calendar(s). You can color-code your calendar however you like. But, I try to align entries with color psychology. For example, red for work-related tasks, blue for meetings, and green for social obligations.

14. Each day should have a theme.

Most of us spend a lot of time bouncing between different tasks throughout the day. It may not seem like a time killer. But, think of the time spent getting prepared for each new job — like getting mentally ready or gathering the right tools and resources. It’s more efficient to assign themes to each day to cut back on time wasted switching between tasks.

For example, you could schedule all of your meetings on Thursdays. But, Tuesdays are reserved for learning or deep work.

15. Schedule time for planning.

Your calendar isn’t going to fill itself out. As such, you need to set aside a specific time to map out the best use of your time and then add that information to your calendar.

16. Time blocking > lists.

The most productive people don’t rely on lists. Instead, they construct time blocks into their calendars — some people call this timeboxing. These are simply specific chunks of time used for particular tasks. During this block, this is the only thing that you pay attention to.

For instance, you would block out two hours from 9 am to 11 am for your most important work. But, from 11 am to noon would be dedicated to cleaning out your inbox and updating your social media channels.

17. Break your day down into 5-minute chunks.

If you want to go to the extreme, you could break your day into 5-minute chunks. It’s a technique that Bill Gates and Elon Musk have used to plan out every moment. You could take even further and plan your days down to the second like Gary Vaynerchuk.

18. Create a zero-based calendar.

A zero-based calendar may be too restrictive for some. But, it’s one of the best ways to give your schedule structure and protect your time.

To get started, book everything that you need to get done in the day. Next, set aside the right amount of time to get these items done. After doing this, you’ll see that there isn’t any time in the day to waste on unproductive activities. However, don’t forget to include breaks.

19. Launch reminders.

Every online calendar lets you set reminders. Not only do they help you remember important tasks or dates, but they can also keep you focused and on-track. The key is to use reminders strategically.

Let’s say you have a meeting. You could set one reminder 24 hours in advance, which gives you plenty of time to prepare. You could also set one for 30-minutes before the meeting starts to guarantee that you’ll be there on time.

20. Set a creativity schedule.

If you view most people’s schedules, you’ll notice a common theme; they’re full of “maker’s” items like returning phone calls, meetings, or deep work. But, we also need to have creative time like writing or brainstorming. We need this time to let our brain’s wander, focus, and get into a flow state.

Ideally, creative time should be scheduled during productive lulls when your brains need to take a couple of minutes to rest and recharge.

21. Perfect the art of batching.

Batching is pretty straightforward. Just lump all of your similar tasks together and do them at the same time. It’s another way to stop wasting time caused by going back-and-forth between various activities.

22. Add other time zones.

If you’re collaborating with others or traveling, then definitely add these different time zones to your calendar. Doing so will prevent any confusion when scheduling events with others. It will also avoid any conflicts when you get off the plane and review your calendar.

23. Assess your calendar every morning.

Make checking your calendar a morning habit. The reason? It lets you know what your day will look like and enables you to catch on gaps in your schedule.

24. Review your calendar frequently.

On top of checking your calendar every morning, also schedule a time to analyze your calendar. For example, at the end of the work, did you properly use the time blocks in your schedule? If so, then you know how to plan the next week. If not, then you’ll have to make adjustments.

25. Find time in your schedule.

No. You can’t ask a genie for more time. You can, however, conduct a time audit to see how you’re actually spending your time. Armed with the correct details, you can stop over-or-underestimating how long it takes to complete tasks. You’ll find gaps of time that can be used more productively.

For instance, your 30-minute commute could be when you check your inbox and social feeds instead of waiting until you get to work.

26. Print out your calendar.

Printing out your calendar may sound like an antiquated technique. But, many individuals take this action. If printing out your calendar gives you security and helps you — do it. You’ll then have a visual reminder of what’s going on without having to open up an app or your online calendar. Besides, you can also cross off or put a checkmark on what you’ve accomplished. A great big-fat-checkmark helps many people giving them the motivation to keep pushing forward.

27. Practice the 80/20 rule.

Also known as the Pareto Principle, this concept originated with the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. The idea, as related to your calendar, is that 80 percent of your results should come from 20 percent of your actions.

For example, if your to-do-list has 10 items on it, then you would focus on the first two items because they’re the most important. Knowing this, you would then schedule your day around these tasks. Over time, you may even be able to remove unimportant tasks from your calendar.

28. Frogs: the breakfast of champions.

You’re not literally going to eat frogs for breakfast. Instead, your frog is the most significant and most challenging task of the day. And, it’s also the job that you’re most likely to procrastinate on. You’ll want to place your most-likely-not-to-succeed-job into your calendar as one of the first things that you do for the day.

You have the most energy and focus a couple hours after waking. Once you accomplish this task, it gives you momentum and motivation to run through the rest of the items in your calendar.

29. The Pomodoro Technique.

When adding tasks to your calendar, keep this technique in mind. It’s where you work for around 25-minutes and then take a break for approximately five-minutes. When you reach 4 Pomodoro sessions, take a more extended break between 15-30-minutes. You can use an old school kitchen timer, your phone, or a calendar reminder.

30. Know your MIT.

You, MIT is simply your most important task. If you’re struggling with this, then answer this question from Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book The ONE Thing: “What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

Limit yourself to no more than three tasks that absolutely need to get done and then schedule them first.

31. Implement 90-minute focus sessions.

Similar to the Pomodoro Technique, this is where you work for 90-minutes and then take a 20-30 minute break. This strategy is effective because it takes advantage of the peaks and troughs we experience throughout the day.

32. Practice the 52-17 rule.

Another spin on the Pomodoro Technique. Here you would work on something for 52-minutes and then rest for 17-minutes. Studies have found that this is how the most productive people plan their days since it helps them stay fresh during the workday.

33. Try the Polyphasic sleep method.

Warning: this method isn’t for everyone — especially if you have a family. But, some people swear by it. In a nutshell, this where you sleep in smaller blocks of time. Like sleep four-hours in the morning and another four hours in the late evening.

“The biggest benefit is that I have about two months of extra time each year. Time is the most valuable resource in our lives,” Eugene Dubovoy, a professional project manager, told Business Insider.

34. Take the cross calendar approach.

Based on the popular productivity hack known as the “Seinfeld Strategy,” this is where you get a large wall calendar and mark off the days that you worked towards a goal in a red marker. Eventually, you’ll have built a chain. And, that makes you feel so aware that you’ll keep the habit going.

35. Three. It’s the magic number.

Chris Bailey, the author of The Productivity Project, developed this rule where you think in three-time frames:

  • What three things do you want to accomplish today?
  • Which three milestones do you want to complete this week?
  • What three goals do you hope to achieve this year?

If you want to give this method a little something extra, you can color-code these items so that you could quickly view your calendar — blue is daily, green is weekly, and yellow is yearly.

36. Bucket your priorities.

Remember when you did that time audit? You can bucket all of your activities into the following three categories: “very important,” “less important,” and “worthless.”

Those that are “very important” should be placed onto your calendar, while “less important” could be scheduled when you have the availability or delegate to someone else. As for any job that’s deemed “worthless,” you’ll want to remove those from your to-do list, and schedule.

37. Plan ahead by energy.

A lot of experts suggest that if you want to be productive, you should wake up early. The thing is, not everyone is a morning person. We all have our own energy peaks that are determined by our own ultradian rhythms.

The better option is to create a schedule around when you’re most energetic and focused, and when you need to rest. So, you would work on your priorities when you’re at your peak and take a break or do less essential activities during your lulls.

38. Block out time for white space.

White space is simply blocks of time in your calendar that doesn’t contain anything. You can use this time to process everything that’s happened today, meditate, stretch, or prepare for a meeting. It can also be used to address any last-minute and unexpected responsibilities that pop-up.

39. Plan for distractions and interruptions.

Despite all of your planning, distractions and interruptions will occur. That white space you left in your calendar is one to handle this. Let’s say a co-worker talked your ear for 2-minutes — which ate into the block of time set aside for email. You can get to that task during that free block of time.

I would also try to identify and track these disturbances so that you can plan accordingly. For example, you could turn off your smartphone notifications when involved with deep work. Or, if a colleague chats with you every day during their break at 11 AM, you could also take your break at the same time.

40. Capture new information in real-time.

Whenever a task or event has to be added to your calendar, don’t wait to add it. Put it in your calendar now — as soon as you can so that you won’t forget. It also avoids any scheduling conflicts from happening since it decreases the odds of double-booking.

41. Avoid decisions.

We have a limited mental energy supply. You’ll want to reserve that for your most important tasks. One way to do this would be to automate any tedious and repeating events. For example, if there’s a weekly meeting, make that a recurring event in your calendar. Another way to avoid decision-overload is to use your Sundays to cook your meals for the week. Decide what to wear for the week, and hang those clothes at the front of your closet. There will be no wasted decision making gabbing the next thing to wear in the closet. (another hint, spend a night in front of the TV pressing the weeks’ clothing.)

42. Say “yes” to less.

There’s no need to stuff with your calendar with too many social obligations or activities that aren’t helping you reach your goals. In other words, start saying “no” more often.

43. Only add new calendar entries if they serve a purpose.

You just got an invite to a meeting. But, it doesn’t have an agenda. Even worse, it’s going to take an hour. An hour meeting is a massive time-suck-waste of time.

As a general rule of thumb, do not put anything into your calendar if it doesn’t serve a purpose. It’s one of the best ways to protect your time and keep your house clean, nice and neat.

44. Know what to add and what to leave off.

I would say that this is one of the essential takeaways from this list. But, it’s not always the most straightforward task to know what should and shouldn’t go in your calendar.

To assist you, anything like date-specific appointments, breaks, networking, and essential tasks should go onto your calendar. The same is true with learning opportunities and monthly themes that align with your larger goals or projects.

You should leave off standing appointments, unnecessary meetings, and other people’s priorities. Other items to not include would be mundane tasks and excessive notes, like the entire biography of a client you’re meeting with.

45. Audit your past calendars.

Reviewing your past calendars can let you know how you spent your time so that you know what you can ax and what events can be repeated.

46. Built-in flexibility.

You want to schedule as much as you can, but there also needs to be a little flexibility in your calendar. Leaving blank spaces can help you with this. But, sometimes it’s alright to be spontaneous.

Let’s say after work you run into a friend. It’s not the end of the world if you grab a drink with them — as long as you don’t have a more pressing matter to get to. Having rough makes us happier.

47. Simplify your problems.

Instead of getting overwhelmed by the entirety of an entire project or goal, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if you were writing an eBook, your calendar would have blocks of time to composing a certain number of pages each day.

48. Create recurring events.

I already mentioned this. But, it deserves mentioning again. If there is anything that repeats, either daily, weekly, or monthly, then create the event and then repeat it. Goog Calendar, for example, gives you these options whenever creating new events.

49. Take into account transitions.

It’s rare to jump immediately from one activity to another. For example, you don’t wake up at 6:30 AM and expect to be at work by 7. You have to eat breakfast, brush your teeth, get dressed, and commute. That’s going to take more than 30-minutes to do.

Whenever you put an item in your calendar, make sure that you take into account these transactional activities so that you’ll be more realistic with your time. They also prevent you from running late since you setting aside travel time.

50. Build-in time buffers.

Similar to the point above, time buffers should also be built into your calendar. If a meeting is scheduled from one pm to two pm, then don’t schedule your next event for two pm on the dot. You need time to do any follow-up work, catch your breath, grab a snack, use the bathroom, and prepare for the next meeting.

In other words, time buffers let you stop, think, and prepare for your next task.

51. One event-free day a week.

Don’t schedule meetings every day. There should at least be one day per week that’s meeting-free. You can use this day for anything that requires hyper-focus and high-level thinking. Examples include analysis, strategic thinking, coding, and writing.

52. Make the most of the extra fields.

When you schedule a new event in your calendar, you’ll notice that there’s an option to include additional information. For instance, if you added a meeting to your calendar, you could include additional information like the client’s name, contact information, and the location of the appointment.

53. Schedule client days.

If you have clients, then definitely block out a day a week to meet with them. It ensures that nothing else will distract you. As a result, you can solely focus on the client. Another benefit is that scheduling “client-only” days prevents switching between work and meetings throughout the day. When all meetings take place on the day, there are fewer decision-making-mental-taxing-blocks. You will spend less time on travel and less wasted time all around.

54. Help clients prepare.

When you do meet with your clients or anyone for that matter, you can make the event run smoother and faster if they know what to expect in advance. The easiest way to do this is to send them an agenda. If they need to fill out some paperwork, then send it to them ahead of time so that you’re not wasting time doing this during the meeting.

55. Don’t stick to default time.

I’m sure that you’ve noticed that your calendar uses the one hour default time when creating new entries. If you don’t need that full hour, then change the time for the appropriate amount. If only takes 30-minutes for a meeting, then that’s the time you block out in your calendar.

56. Follow up.

If you’ve just met with someone, immediately follow-up with them. Since you’ve already built in a buffer, you have the time directly following the event. These plans may seem trivial. But, it prevents other activities from getting ahead of this important but overlooked task.

57. Only meet for as long as you have to.

Every meeting doesn’t have to be 60-minutes. Sometimes a 10-minute conference call will suffice. Other times a 45-minute team meeting is more than enough time to go over the agenda. Before adding a meeting to your calendar, know how much time you need to meet and block out that amount of time.

58. Allow people to schedule on your calendar.

These days it’s not uncommon for people to hire a virtual assistant to manage their calendar. Becoming even more prevalent is embracing an AI-assisted scheduling calendar. You can also let family members, friends, business associates, and clients schedule onto your calendar.

59. Always start on time.

Starting on time doesn’t just keep your schedule on track, it’s also respectful of others time. You wouldn’t want someone to waste your valuable time.

60. Eliminate back-to-back meetings.

It’s normal for back-to-back meetings to occur. However, butting one meeting up to another is disastrous as it can lead to tardiness. Don’t stack in so many items on your Calendar that you start being late. Arriving late to any event or meeting is rarely acceptable.

61. Don’t schedule last-minute meetings.

Again, this is being respectful of other people’s time. But, it also protects your schedule since you’re aren’t letting these last-minute meetings get ahead of already scheduled priorities.

62. Set odd times.

When scheduling meetings, consider starting them at odd times, such as 2:32 PM.

The reason? People are more likely to show up on time because it’s so specific there isn’t any wiggle room.

63. Keep your calendar centrally located.

Thanks to the cloud, this shouldn’t be a problem since it allows you to access your calendar whenever and wherever you like. If you still want paper calendars, keep it somewhere that’s within your sight.

64. Use a cross-platform calendar.

Piggybacking from the previous point, you want a calendar that works across multiple devices. For example, Google Calendar works across all platforms, while Apple Calendar is limited to Apple devices. As such, if I sent you my Apple Calendar and you have an Android device, you can access it.

Using a cross-platform calendar makes managing your calendar more convenient. And, it also lets you easily share your calendar with others.

65. Share the right calendar with the right people.

You don’t have to share your calendar with everyone. It’s probably for the best that you didn’t. After all, your co-worker doesn’t need to know what your itinerary for your upcoming vacation looks like.

Before sharing your calendar with others, make sure that you’re sharing the right one with the right people.

66. Enable cloud storage.

Your calendar not synching? A quick fix would be to enable cloud storage so that it has enough space to be saved and synched.

67. Keep your calendar updated.

Sounds obvious. But, this is something that can easily slip our minds. Schedule a time, let’s say once a week, where you update your calendar so that it reflects any changes. It’s a simple way to avoid confusion and scheduling conflicts.

68. Hide early morning/late night hours.

There’s no reason for you or others to view the hours when you’re sleeping. It’s not like you’re going to schedule a meeting while you’re fast asleep. Hide these wasted to keep your calendar view lean.

69. Stay on top of the holidays.

You might not have a problem working on holidays. But, adding them to your calendar reminds you that not everyone will be available on those days. You may want to include the holidays of others on your team if you work with people from overseas and you’re not familiar with their holidays.

70. Add relevant attachments and locations.

Most online calendars permit you to add attachments, like an agenda, and even a map of meeting locations. Take advantage of this feature to make event planning go off without a hitch.

71. Enable off-line.

If you’re using an online calendar, you’ll want to do this whenever you don’t have access to the internet. The reason? You can still access your calendar. And, any changes that are made will automatically sync when you’re back online.

72. Make your calendar public.

If you’re in the service industry, this is a no-brainer. Anyone can see your availability and then make an appointment with you without going through the back-and-forth.

73. Embed your calendar.

Whether you’re in the service industry or not, every online calendar comes with a unique code that allows you to place your calendar on a website. Again, it’s a great way to avoid those lengthy communications when scheduling.

74. Import information from other apps.

Importing data from your CRM, project management software, or social platforms to your calendar helps you keep all key dates and information in one location.

75. Consolidate.

At the same time, don’t rely on too many tools. When it comes to your schedule, use one calendar tool, and keep it readily available.

76. If you want to do it, schedule it.

At some point, we’ve all said, “If only had the time to exercise, read more, or start a new hobby.” Here’s the thing. You do have the time. You just haven’t added it to your schedule.

In my experience, if you really want to do something, you’ll add it to your calendar. It’s like making a contract with yourself to follow through.

77. Create a boilerplate daily schedule.

Most of us approach our calendars as a blank slate that needs to be filled. Another approach would be to create a boilerplate daily schedule where you begin each week with a full calendar containing your most important activities. Whatever empty slots you have can be used for email, Slack, social media, exercise, or whatever else may pop-up.

78. Protect admin and personal days.

Fridays are when I catch-up on all of my administrative work, such as emails, filing, and scheduling appointments. I also block out one day per week to attend to any personal events like running errands or doctors appointments.

79. Make notable calendar entries stand out.

On top of color-coding, you can also make your most essential calendar entries stand out by using bold or different types of font.

80. Create your own calendar templates.

As a whole, most calendars are fine just the way they are. But, what if you need something more specific like a content calendar or employee schedule? You can create your own calendar template to meet your exact needs.

81. Automate your calendar.

Manually inputting information into your calendar can be a huge drain of time. One way to reduce the time spent on this chore is to take advantage of the recurring events feature found in most online calendars. Now when you add a task or function that repeats, it will be automatically placed on your calendar.

Another option would be using automation tools like Zapier or IFTTT. Other tools you could try would be Calendar that uses machine learning to make smart suggestions on how and when you schedule meetings.

82. Don’t set deadlines on Mondays.

For some individuals, Mondays aren’t the most productive day of the week. It’ usually reserved for easing our way back into work after enjoying the weekend. With that in mind, it makes sense to not set any deadlines on this day.

83. Schedule time for email.

Email is one of the most time-consuming tasks we have on our plates. Even worse, it hardly helps us progress towards our goals. We still make email a priority.

Instead of spending our most productive hours on email, add it to your calendar during lulls — like right after lunch. Also, set a time limit on how much you spend going through your inbox so that you aren’t spending any more time on this activity then you have to.

84. Book your calendar well in advance.

The sooner you fill your calendar, the more time you have to plan and prepare. Another perk is that this reduces the amount of time you spend making decisions. And, it prevents any potential scheduling conflicts.

85. Give each calendar a unique name.

Having an “Events” calendar isn’t a problem. But, do you know what exactly is within that calendar? Are they work-related appointments or social functions? If both are included, your calendar may be bursting at the seams.

Instead, be more specific when naming your calendars. For instance, you could create calendars titled “Work Appointments” and “Social Events.” Now you can quickly locate the right calendar when you need it.

86. Display and hide specific calendars.

With online calendars, you can almost create as many calendars as you like. But, that can get distracting and overwhelming when viewing them all at once.

Thankfully, most online calendars let you decide which calendars you want to show or hide. It’s a simple way to keep your high priority calendars, like your work schedule front and center.

87. End on time.

Setting a designated end time to your calendar day is a great way to strike a healthy balance between work and life. It also motivates you to stay on track. For example, if a meeting is scheduled to conclude at 3 PM, then you know that there isn’t time for side conversations if you want to stay within the allotted time for the event.

88. Delegate your calendar to someone else.

Managing your calendar can be a lot of work. If you have the resources, have an assistant take over your calendar. You’ll still want to review it daily. But, they’ll be the person adding new entries and updating it so that you can devote your energy elsewhere.

89. Take the middle of the day off.

For most of us, we hit a wall in the afternoon. Instead of pouring another cup of coffee or trying to power through it, take the middle of the day. I wouldn’t recommend goofing off. Consider taking a cat nap or hit the gym so that you’re recharged for the remainder for the day.

90. Create an out-of-office message.

Some online calendar, like Google Calendar, allow you to create out-of-office messages. Now if someone tries to book your time during that block, they won’t be able to.

91. Learn keyboard shortcuts.

No matter what calendar you use, they all have their own keyboard shortcuts. Learn these shortcuts so that you can quickly add and edit entries.

92. Your voice is a powerful tool.

On top of keyboard shortcuts, you can quickly add new calendar entries using voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. As with shortcuts, master calendar voice commands so that you can reduce the time spent typing.

93. Keep your days and weeks consistent.

You don’t want to put yourself in a rut — that’s why themed days are useful in shaking things up a bit. But, when having a consistent schedule, you’re able to get into a focused and productive rhythm.

94. Address conflicts ASAP.

If you ever notice a conflict in your calendar, don’t put it off until tomorrow. Address it ASAP. For example, if you have to make a dentist appointment and the only time available is when you have a meeting booked, reschedule the meeting in advance instead of waiting until the last minute.

95. Think in “half-time.”

Have you ever heard of something called “half-time.” If not, this is essentially where you kill two birds with one stone. Cooking is a great example. Instead of doing this daily, make twice the amount you usually do, and then freeze the rest. Now you don’t have to spend the time cooking and cleaning every night.

96. Set time limits.

Consider this like playing a game where you’re competing against yourself. In your calendar, set a time limit on all of your tasks and see if you can complete them before time runs out.

97. Keep your calendar clutter-free.

The easiest way to lose control of your calendar and time is to let it become full of clutter. You can prevent this from happening by getting rid of a few lists you no longer need.

  • Meetings without a purpose or agenda.
  • Standing meetings.
  • Minute tasks.
  • Activities that are automatic.
  • Recurring events that no longer fit into your schedule.

98. Schedule time for self-care.

Getting quality sleep, exercising, and eating healthy are .obvious ways to keep you in tip-top shape. But, self-care also reduces stress and gives you the energy, focus, and stamina to squeeze the most out of each day.

At the same time, most of us rarely schedule a time for self-care. If you haven’t done so yet, schedule time in your calendar to attend to your mental and physical health. Your mental and physical health care may become your greatest growth-hacking-productivity-tip in the long run.

99. Have a calendar cancellation policy.

You’ve had a meeting or appointment in your calendar for weeks. Then, on the morning over the event, it’s canceled. That doesn’t throw a monkey wrench into your schedule, it also eats into your income.

A cancellation policy won’t always solve this problem. But, it will help reduce the number of last-minute cancellations and late arrivals.

100. Pick the best brains.

Finally, keep learning how productive people use their calendars by keeping tabs on experts like David Allen and Tim Ferriss. Their advice can help you discover ways to make your life more productive and fulfilling.

How Do You Make a Productive Calendar?

By | Scheduling | No Comments

Life without a calendar would be chaotic, right? Without it would be like driving to a new destination without directions. You would have absolutely no idea on how to get to Point A to B. As a result, you would get lost, frustrated, and arrive late. But, if you had directions, you would stay on the right course and reach your target promptly.

Like your trusty directions, though, your calendar is only effective if it’s accurate. And, the best way to ensure this is by making a productive calendar. That may sound like an ambitious goal. But, if you use the following tips, you’ll have a calendar that you’ll keep you organized and productive in all facets of your life.

You’ll do better with one.

When my friends parents their own business together. They had paper calendars scattered everywhere. There was the primary calendar, a large pad that sat on top of the desk (usually that yellow pad thing), as well as the wall calendar in the office, the car, and their home. After all these years, I’m shocked that they didn’t seem to have many scheduling conflicts. I wonder? I believe the mother was probably the one responsible for keeping it all organized.

Unless you have a schedule that never changes, which be rather dull, there’s no need to use more than one calendar. The reason is that you’re continually switching between calendars. Not only is that time-consuming and frustrating, but it can also lead to conflicts. For example, you may accept a dinner invite with a client on Wednesday night. But, you didn’t consult your personal calendar and didn’t realize you already committed to dinner with friends. Now you have to reschedule one of these events, and someone will be let down.

If you want your calendar to be productive, then only use one calendar that meets your needs. Ideally, it should be easily accessible, work across multiple devices, and can sync with the tools that you’re already using, like Calendar. You should also be able to share your calendar with others with relative ease.

Als, keep in mind that just because you’re using one calendar, customize it so that you can separate the numerous areas of your life. You could color-code different schedules, such as red for detail-oriented tasks and green for exercise. Or, you could make essential entries pop by using all caps or boldface. There’s even the ability to change the default meeting times and reminder notifications.

Live in your calendar.

“Living in my calendar” is a concept I saw in an article written by Jalah Bisharat. And I’m a fan.

“Essentially, ‘living in your calendar’ is a to-do list brought to life,” explains Bisharat. “It forces you to think not only about what needs to get accomplished, but how much time each effort is worth. And even how to sequence your day.”

Here’s what I like about this concept. It encourages you to put everything of importance into your calendar. You then block out specific chunks of time for each of these activities. For instance, you should check your inbox from 6:30 a.m. to 6:45 and then exercise for 30-minutes. Uninterrupted work could be from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. and so forth.

Overall, it’s straightforward and not reinventing the wheel. There also benefits like encouraging you to start and end each day thinking about your long-term goals and working around your energy levels. Moreover, it forces you to only focus on what’s most important. Using entries that are time-bond, will help you fight back against procrastination.

However, I should add that if you don’t want your calendar to become too cluttered, then you must know what to include and leave out.

Your calendar should only include the following:

  • Date-specific appointments or deadlines.
  • Tasks that you struggle with.
  • Learning something new, like reading.
  • Networking.
  • Breaks and downtime, even 15-minutes to do nothing.
  • Self-care activities like exercise or meditation.
  • Monthly themes that are attached to your goals. As an example, January’s theme could be “Jumpstart” where you would begin the year planning a marketing campaign or a new workout regiment.

As for what you should leave off your calendar? Here are the top suggestions:

  • Meetings that do not have an agenda or purpose.
  • Standing or back-to-back appointments.
  • Checklists and notes.
  • Reminders for minuscule tasks like brushing your teeth.
  • Other people’s priorities.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Excellent advice from the wise Ben Franklin. But, how does this apply in making your calendar more productive?

Firstly, be realistic about how much you can achieve in one day. There may seem like you have a hundred different things to do. But, there is no way that you’ll get to them all. Focus on your top priorities, usually between three to five items, and add only them to your calendar. It’s a simple way to ensure that you’re not putting off the things that must get done today to a later date.

Secondly, keep your calendar updated in real-time. If you just agreed to a lunch meeting, then add it to your calendar immediately. The same goes for any other important dates, like a doctor’s appointment or deadline for a project. If you wait to add these entries to your calendar, then there’s a possibility that something else will pop-up and battle for the same time slot.

Employ arrow-method.

Similar to the popular the “rocks, pebbles, and sand” metaphor for time management, here you would frontload your calendar with your most critical crucial tasks. The idea is that once you’ve knocked these out, you can use that momentum to be productive throughout the rest of the week.

Additionally, front-loading your workweek can reduce stress. As explained by Elizabeth Grace Saunders over on 99u, “Front-loading gives you the ability to stay on top of projects that take longer than expected without getting stressed or working into the wee hours of the night.”

“Since all of your must-do’s are taken care of at least a few days in advance, you can easily move would-like-to-do’s to the next day,” adds Grace Saunders. “Also, if a cool opportunity arises, you can make a spontaneous decision to take advantage of it because you don’t constantly have the pressure of racing to meet a deadline.”

What’s more, as the week progresses, energy begins to wane. It’s been found that Tuesdays are your most productive day, with Fridays being the least.

Anyway, back to the arrow method. Nicholas Sonnenberg writes for Inc.com, that this his own calendar trick with “the goal is to make your weekly calendar look like an arrowhead–a lot of stuff, in the beginning, tapering out to a fine point at the end.”

“In order to accomplish this, I schedule the majority of my meetings at the beginning of the week, preferably on Monday or Tuesday,” adds Sonnenberg. “These are mostly meetings I have every week–executive meetings, weekly check-ins, financial updates, etc.”

By kicking off the week with “a pretty packed schedule” creates flexibility, psychological satisfaction, and makes planning easier.

Establish flexible boundaries.

There’s a balancing act here. On the one hand, you need to establish boundaries. That means if you’ve already blocked out a slot in your calendar, then you’re committed. If you reserve a specific timeframe for a meeting or deep work, then nothing else should be planned during that period.

On the flip side, your calendar should also be flexible. What if there is a family emergency that pulls you away from work? What if a colleague can’t meet with you at your preferred time because they got stuck in traffic? You need to have some leeway to address these unexpected circumstances.

That’s why flexible boundaries are ideal. It’s actually how the most productive people schedule-out their days. There will be items in your calendar that are set-in-stone. However, there will also be entries that can be moved to another slot. It’s your decision on what boundaries are rigid or soft. But, usually, non-negotiable items would be work commitments, pre-determined meetings, or anything in your personal life like doctor appointments.

I’d also say that the most natural way around this, on top of scheduling your most important tasks, would be to leave a few blank spaces in your calendar. For instance, there could be an hour slot in the afternoon where nothing has been added to your calendar. That time could be spent handling an emergency or shifting your schedule if you must. Some people, like Tim Ferriss, even prefer to leave an entire day open on their calendar.

Look back to look ahead.

Under-and-overestimating how long something tasks is a surefire way to make your calendar less productive. If you were to block out an hour for a specific task, and it took two, then your calendar for the rest of the day will be thrown off.

Go back and review past calendars to see how much time you dedicated to recurring tasks and appointments. You can then use this information to map out your calendar going forward. If that’s not effective, then track your time for a couple of weeks. You can either use a time log or a tracking tool like Toggl or RescueTime to get a more accurate picture.

Schedule regular check-ins.

Finally, review your calendar frequently. I do this on Friday afternoons to make sure that nothing has changed. Then don’t miss the Sunday night check-up. After all, as time goes on, your priorities will change. You’ll want to make sure that your account for this. If not, your calendar isn’t going to be much of an assistant for you.

Be Productive Everyday – 25 Daily Calendar Productivity Tips

By | Time Management | No Comments

For most of us, calendars and productivity are integrally linked. But, that’s only possible if you’re correctly managing and organizing your calendar every day. While that may sound like a daunting task, it’s achievable if you implement the following 25 tips to be productive every day.

1. Map out your week on Sunday.

I’d rather spend my Sunday vegging out. I’d be perfectly fine with watching football and munching on pizza. But I’ll be honest with you. By Sunday evening, I’ve had my fill of football — unless the night game is worth paying attention to. Even though I’ve found that this is the best time to plan my week.

Write down everything that you need to get done this week. Then, filter your list. Determine what’s most essential and add them to your calendar. For items that aren’t as important, schedule them when you have the availability. You may also be able to hand off specific tasks to others or drop them entirely from your schedule.

Also, review what you already have penciled in. For example, let’s say you booked an appointment or meeting months ago. Then you’re going to have to plan your day around that event.

I’d also add that you can use your Sundays to prepare for the week. If you want to watch football, then run your errands during the morning. And, you can still keep tabs on the games while cooking your meals for the week, doing laundry, or tidying up. These are all small items that you can knock out on Sunday so that they’re not distracting you throughout the week.

2. Set your intention for the day.

Benjamin Franklin began each day with a question: What good shall I do this day? He asked this question before he did anything else each day. And I love it.

Setting intention brings you back into the moment. It forces you to identify and live by your values and virtues. It also has the power to increase your emotional and physical energy.

Most importantly, intentions will direct and remind you where you want to go for the day. As an example, you have a meeting today at one. Your intention is good to make it valuable and productive for attendees. Determining this first thing in the morning will get you in the right mindset to achieve this. It will also keep you focused and encourage you to knock the meeting out of the park.

3. Have your daily agenda sent to you.

Do you use Google Calendar? If so, you can have your Daily agenda sent directly to your Gmail account. Just go into Google Calendar and then “Settings for my calendars.” Scroll “General notifications” and choose “email” under “Daily agenda.”

Outlook users can also take advantage of this feature. Go into your web app and head into “Your app settings” and choose “Calendar.” Under Reminders, select the checkmark next to “Get daily agenda email for calendar and tasks.”

4. Don’t underestimate the power of simplicity.

Search for “how to be productive.” The Big G will return a whooping 240,000,000 results.

Here’s the thing you’re going to find plenty of useful advice. But, you’re also going to come across several complicated productivity secrets.

Want to know the secret to be efficient and effective daily schedules, though? They’re simple.

Go back and look at Franklin’s daily schedule. It’s so open and straightforward, while also providing structure and encouraging a routine.

Franklin’s schedule only included six blocks:

  • Getting ready for the day: shower, breakfast, personal study, and prepare for work (3 hours)
  • Morning work (4 hours)
  • Review of current projects and to eat lunch (2 hours)
  • Afternoon work (4 hours)
  • Dinner and rest and wrapping up the day (4 hours)
  • Sleep (7 hours)

That’s it. It’s so straightforward that anyone could use it as a template if they want to have a more productive day.

5. Take into account your circadian rhythms.

“Humans have a well-defined internal clock that shapes our energy levels throughout the day: our circadian process, which is often referred to as a circadian rhythm because it tends to be very regular,’ writes Christopher Barnes on HBR. “If you’ve ever had jet lag, then you know how persistent circadian rhythms can be,” he adds. “This natural — and hardwired — ebb and flow in our ability to feel alert or sleepy has important implications for” everyone.

How does this affect your calendar and productivity? When planning our day, we should take into account our own circadian rhythms.

“The most important tasks should be conducted when people are at or near their peaks in alertness (within an hour or so of noon and 6 pm),” recommends Barnes. “The least important tasks should be scheduled for times in which alertness is lower (very early in the morning, around 3 pm, and late at night).”

6. Block out proactive and reactive blocks.

“Time blocking is simply a time management technique where you set aside a specific amount of time for a particular task,” writes Howie Jones in a previous Calendar article. “For example, instead of checking your phone every time you receive an email or social notification, you would do this at clearly defined times.” Howie does this before diving into his work in the morning. “There’s another block after lunch. And, the final one is later in the afternoon before calling work a day.”

However, you decide to block out your time is up to you. But, I suggest that you block out both proactive and reactive blocks. Proactive blocks are reserved for your most important tasks. These have to get done — no exceptions. Reactive blocks are unexpected occurrences, like an emergency meeting.

To achieve this, make sure that you set hard boundaries when it comes to your proactive blocks, such as turning off your phone. To address the reactive blocks, leave a couple of time slots in your calendar free.

7. Use the 52/17 Rule.

After tracking the habits of their top 10 percent most productive users, Desktop found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes, followed by 17 minutes of rest. The reason? We need these breaks to help us recharge and refocus.

So, in your calendar, block out around an hour for your most important work. Then, schedule a break for around 17-minutes and so forth. Don’t be afraid to adjust these times, however, to suit your own rhythms. Some people might be able to work for 90-minutes before having to take a break.

8. Schedule “no meeting” time blocks.

Meetings, while necessary, can be a massive waste of time. Even worse, they can pry you away from more important matters or interrupt your flow. To counter this, make sure there are specific chunks of time where you never accept a meeting. For me, I never take a meeting in the morning since that’s when I’m most productive. Instead, I book them in the afternoon.

You could also take this a step further by banning meetings altogether on specific days. I also prefer to schedule all of my meetings on the same day so that I don’t have to bounce between work mode and meeting mode.

9. Theming your days.

Theming your days is a simple productivity technique. As opposed to switching between tasks all day, you would focus on one theme for the entire day. For instance, Mondays could be spent developing and creating content ideas like blog posts for the week. Tuesdays would be for your most challenging work, and so on. Because energy begins to dip, and we can’t wait for the weekend, Fridays are perfect for meetings or tying up loose ends.

After you’ve identified your themes, add them to your schedule. So, on Monday, you could brainstorm from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Following a 15-minute break, your next block would be writing, following by lunch.

10. Be realistic with your time.

So many of us have fallen prey to this. We create ambitious and lengthy daily to-do-lists. The problem? These lists never account for time. As a result, you end biting off more then you can chew.

Focus on only between 3-5 tasks per day. These should be your priorities. They should also be scheduled in your calendar so that they become a priority — it also helps you weed out distractions. The key, though is to block out the right amount of time. So, if you only need an hour for a specific task, then don’t block out two hours.

Review past calendars to see how you spent your time. If that’s not helpful, then track your time for a week or two.

11. Don’t be a captive to calendar defaults.

When you create a new event in a calendar, you’ll notice that the default time is an hour. Just because this is the default, doesn’t mean you have to stick with it. If you only need 30-minutes for a meeting, then change the event time. Remember, time is your most valuable resource. So make sure that not wasting it be being tied to default times.

12.

Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. And I did not forget to add a title here. I left it intentionally blank to illustrate a point: the importance of scheduling nothing.

As opposed to booking every minute of your calendar, leave some slots blank. It’s a technique championed by people like LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. He used this buffer “to think big, catch up on the latest industry news, get out from under that pile of unread emails, or take a walk. ”

For me, it’s an opportunity to escape temporarily. I go for at least a 15-minute walk with my dog. It gives us both a chance to stretch our legs. But, it also allows me to clear my head and think. I usually leave my phone behind, too, as a way to disconnect.

As an added perk, you can use those blocks of nothingness to handle any unexpected circumstances that may have landed in your lap.

13. “OOO.”

“OOO” is short for “out-of-office.” These are blocks when you’re unavailable. Examples would be when you’re traveling, taking your lunch break, on vacation. Add these blocks to your calendar so that they don’t get filled by something else.

And, it wouldn’t hurt to also create an out of office message — which is easy to do if you use Google or Outlook. Now when someone tries to book you during this time slot, the message will automatically let them know that you’re out of the office, and when you’ll return.

14. There’s an app for that, so use it.

Yes. As you already know, your online calendar also comes in app form. If you haven’t done so yet, download it to your phone. Now your calendar will always be with you. Just make sure to sync your calendar across all of your devices to prevent confusion.

Also, like peanut butter and jelly, pair your calendar with the right tools. For example, Calendar integrates with Google, Apple, and Outlook calendars. It uses machine learning to figure out your schedule to make smart suggestions on how and when to plan meetings. Most online calendars can also connect with Slack to streamline communicating with others. And, they even work with voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home so that you can quickly add new events as they appear.

15. Go light on the details.

“Adding details to your schedule is beneficial,” explains Calendar’s Angela Ruth. “For instance, when you just booked a conference call, it would help if you had some necessary information about the person on the other end of the line, such as their name, position, and meaning of the chat.”

“At the same time, you don’t want to include too many details, like their entire life story,” adds Angela. “Doing so will make your schedule too cumbersome to manage.” And, if you’re working with others and share your calendar with them, “it may annoy the daylights out of them. Like you know, they probably only need the most relevant information to complete a task or prepare for a meeting.”

16. Be more thoughtful about lunch.

When it comes to lunch, I’m a stickler about stepping away from work and making the most of this time. Personally, I get skeeved out by people who eat at their desks. It’s just so unhygienic. Besides, when you take an actual lunch break, you have the chance to do the following:

  • Eating healthy and nutritious food will boost your brainpower.
  • Taking a break will sustain your concentration and energy levels.
  • Practicing mindfulness or taking a nap will clear your head and improve your memory.
  • Exercising or walking outside reduces stress, improves your mood, and refreshes your attention span.
  • Going outside the office can spark creativity.
  • Lunch is a great time to meet with others.

17. Set reminders strategically.

Online calendars allow you to set reminders so that you won’t forget important dates and times. But, don’t roll with the default reminder setting. Be more strategic by setting reminders that more helpful.

For example, if you have a meeting this afternoon at 3, what’s the point of having a reminder go off five-minutes prior? Instead, you could set a reminder for 30-minutes ahead of time so that you have enough time to commute and prepare for the meeting.

18. Get rough with your schedule.

Not literally. Rough scheduling is simply not scheduling all of your leisure time. When you allow for spontaneity, like running into an old friend and grabbing a coffee, it makes you happier. Researchers state that this is because when scheduled, leisure tasks feel more like a chore. And, by the way, when you’re happier, you’re more productive overall.

19. Never accept last-minute time requests.

Unless it’s an end-of-the-world type of emergency, never accept a last-minute time request. It’s the best way to protect your calendar bt not letting less important items leapfrog your priorities.

20. Keep your calendar weird.

When planning a meeting or grabbing lunch with an acquaintance, consider scheduling the event at an odd time. For instance, meet at 1:13 p.m. instead of 1. Not only will the event stand out, but it will also encourage everyone to be on time. The reason? It’s so specific there isn’t time for tomfoolery.

21. Highlight important information.

Remember when you were back in school? If you were like me, you highlighted vital information in your textbook. Listen, I spent a lot of money on that book, and I could do with it whatever I wanted. I’m probably still paying it off!

Anyway, like your textbook, you should make essential calendar entries pop. For example, use different colors, all caps, or boldface for the daily entries that deserve most of your attention and focus.

22. Capture new information ASAP.

Whenever a new task or event pops-up, add it to your calendar sooner than later. Let’s say that you just agreed to meet a client for lunch two weeks from now. If you don’t create that event, you may forget about it and schedule something else.

23. Don’t be shy.

You don’t have to be like Cat Stevens and “let your feelings roll on by.” But, you shouldn’t keep your calendar to yourself. Share your calendar either through email or embed it on your site. Now people like your coworkers or family know when you’re busy or free to be interrupted. It also makes scheduling future events easier by eliminating those pesky back-and-forth exchanges.

24. Maximize your downtime.

Whether it’s during a break or when you get home for the day — make the most of your downtime. Learning something new, networking, reading, and just relaxing are all excellent ways to spend your downtime. The reason? These activities can help your destress or help you become more proficient.

Also, protect your downtime just as you would with an appointment or deadline. If you’ve set aside to attend a workshop, then don’t commit to something else during that time.

25. Reflect on your day.

Bear with here, but this is the last time I namedrop Ben Franklin.

At the end of every day, he asked: What good have I done today? He took note of what went wrong, as well as what didn’t. Franklin could then use this to improve his daily schedule going forward.

Also, when you reflect, you can see how you spent your day. From here, you can identify and eliminate any time-wasting activities from your calendar so that you can focus on what truly matters.

5 Tips for Balancing Your Clients’ Calendars With Your Own

By | Time Management | No Comments
5 Tips for Balancing Your Clients’ Calendars With Your Own

It’s easy to be the client’s yes-man: agreeing to last-minute projects and too-fast turnarounds, booking back-to-back meetings, and worrying about how you’ll complete the work you take on.

Don’t get me wrong: Clients’ needs are important. In fact, they’re the reason you see profits at the end of the quarter. But if you’re constantly reacting to client needs, when will you have time to work on all of the other things that keep your company moving forward?

Resist the urge to overload your schedule. Not only does it put you at risk of letting a client down, but it can lead to all sorts of chronic health problems. 

Balancing your client’s calendar with your own can feel like walking on a tightrope. Cut yourself some slack with these five tips:

1. Know when you work best.

When do you feel most energized? It could be in the morning right after a cup of coffee, or in mid-afternoon as the office gets quiet and your inbox traffic slows. Identify the time of day when you’re at peak productivity.

No matter what part of the day works best for you, block this time out on your schedule for focused, distraction-free work. Don’t let the whirlwind of meetings and emails keep you from spending this time on your most pressing projects. 

This is the work of setting boundaries, which benefit everyone involved: You finish projects on time, and your client gets a better outcome. Don’t feel guilty for it. 

2. Use an online scheduling tool.

Although paper planners and calendars have their benefits, working from an online calendar is the best way to stay on top of the fast-paced work environment.

To that calendar, add not just your meetings and appointments, but also those blocks of time when you want to do deep work. Set it so that your team members and, if you so choose, your clients can see your availability. 

Giving clients open access to your calendar might be nerve-wracking. But think about the advantages of such a system: Clients who can see your calendar will understand that you can’t meet at a time that you’ve already committed to someone else. Make rearranging your schedule the last resort. 

3. Build a buffer into timeline estimates.

When setting the project timeline, be realistic. Give estimates according to when you could comfortably complete the work, not when you could do it if you pushed everything else out of the way.

Sure, it’s nice to impress a client with a quick turnaround. If you do that for every client, though, you’ll quickly run out of time and energy. 

Apply the “buffer” approach to your meeting schedule as well. Give yourself small blocks of time between appointments to decompress, answer emails, and prepare for the next one. 

4. Look at the big picture.

You know what times of year are most and least profitable for your business. The same is true of your clients.

It’s likely that your clients have an idea of how their year will look and what they might need in a given season. At the start of the calendar year, ask your long-term clients what projects they anticipate needing your help with. Not only does reaching out early show that you want to maintain your relationship with them, but it lets you know well in advance what’s coming.

Go ahead and add those projects to your calendar. Set reminders to follow up with each client for details as the start dates draw closer. 

5. Get creative.

Make use of every minute of your schedule. If you find yourself squandering interstitial periods, ask whether you could use them to buy yourself time elsewhere. 

For example, you could take lunch meetings or chat with clients over happy hour. If you usually commute to appointments, could you take some of them via a videoconferencing service?

Videoconferencing is a good solution for all sorts of meetings. Not only does it keep you at your desk, but it allows you to share your screen and record the conversation.

At the end of the day, remember that you’re the captain of your calendar. It’s OK to occasionally feel overwhelmed by your workload, but it shouldn’t be the norm. Client needs are important, yes, but you should not live by their beck and call.

5 Best Practices for Controlling Your Calendar Notifications

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Calendar Spam is a Problem (How to Fix)

Buzzes, beeps, dings, and swishes are the sounds of the workday. They’re useful, but they’re also distracting.

Constant notification noises put you in reactive mode. Working reactively is stressful, gets in the way of proactive thinking, and zaps energy you should be spending on focused work. But aside from silencing your computer or phone entirely — which may cause you to miss a call or a key appointment — what can you do to control them?

Setting boundaries is important if you want to use your time wisely. Try these five best practices to quiet the noise and boost your productivity:

1. Know your options.

The default settings in your scheduling software are not your friends. Find the settings menu, and start exploring. Keep in mind your options will differ depending on the device you’re using. 

Start with your device’s global settings. If you have an iPhone, you’ll see a notifications menu in the “Settings” app. A similar menu exists on Android devices. Here, you’ll find options for where notifications appear, how long they linger, and if your phone buzzes or dings upon receipt. 

Take the same approach on your computer. You might find an option that provides a heads up without annoying noises. For example, did you know that Microsoft Outlook can send you text notifications, summarizing your calendar for the day? Knowing your alert options is the first step in developing a system that serves you. 

2. Be selective.

Again, notifications exist to serve you, not the other way around. To regain control of your calendar notifications, choose which apps you actually want to hear from.

Say you’ve elected to receive Slack notifications on both your laptop and smartphone. Slack can notify you about every message in every channel, only on select channels, or only when you’re tagged. Those settings can be customized for each device. 

If you operate on-the-go, you might turn off all desktop alerts but opt to receive notifications from certain channels on your phone. If you stay close to your desk, you could opt for the opposite.

Personally, I prefer to turn off all notifications on my phone, except for those directly related to calls or texts. On my computer, I opt for email and Slack notifications. 

3. Use your senses.

Toggling the on/off switch isn’t the only way to control audio alerts on your devices. Your device’s notification settings allow you to adjust which apps send you vibration or audio notifications.

A favorite trick of mine is adjusting the sound alerts in Outlook. I don’t want to hear a chime every time a new email or calendar reminder occurs. Only when I receive an email directly from my team do I hear a chime. That sound signals to me that I should put down whatever else I’m working until I check whether the email is important and time-sensitive. 

4. Do more with your inbox.

Even if my email inbox is overflowing, I prefer to receive a notification there instead of on my phone. Here, I can sort, prioritize, and save messages until I’m ready to address them.

Many scheduling tools, including the one I use, allow you to send yourself reminders at appointed times. I set a monthly reminder to pay my credit card bill, so I receive an email at 9 a.m. the day before the bill is due.

I might accidentally dismiss the notification on my phone, but I can’t miss the email reminder in my inbox. Then, I mark it as important to keep it top of mind.

Try setting your calendar to email you 15 minutes before a meeting. To take it a step further, assign that email a special sound. 

5. Get focused.

Notifications are the enemy of deep work. Especially if you are about to engage in multitasking, turn your devices to “silent” and move them out of sight. Close Gmail, Slack, and any other applications that you’ve set to send you notifications.

If you need a notification to know when to stop, set a kitchen or online timer. Don’t use your phone for this because once the timer dings, you’ll be tempted to dive back into the notifications. 

Give yourself a block of uninterrupted work time — as well as one for personal time — every day. Sleep with your phone in airplane mode (or out of the bedroom entirely) so that your morning alarm doesn’t greet you with a list of notifications. Ironically, setting a calendar reminder for notification-free time can help with this. 

If you’re constantly feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, try taming your notifications. Trust your brain to remember what’s essential, and set your devices to remind you of the rest.

25 Brilliant Calendar and Schedule Management Tips

By | Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments

Between all of your work-related tasks, the endless barrage of meetings, personal commitments, and those pesky to-do-lists items, how can you possibly get everything done? Do you even have the chance to catch your breath or do the things that you actually enjoy?

While scheduling may be a struggle for some, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The light begins to shin when you follow your calendar with exactness and start to see the benefits. You begin to see how Calendar and schedule management frees you.

That may sound like an impossible feat. But, it’s within reach if you try out the following 25 brilliant tips.

1. Put first things first.

“Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities,” Stephen Covey famously wrote. “It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.”

If you don’t book your priorities, you can be certain that something of less importance will occupy that time slot. That’s why in order to protect what’s more important in your life, then take control of your schedule in advance. How far in advance? Well, some people prefer to create an annual plan.

Again, this will vary from person to person. But, an annual plan is where you simply block out time in your calendar for what’s most important to you. Examples would be business goals, industry events, doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences, or your best friend’s wedding.

Creating your annual Calendar (that you add to) won’t just shield your priorities, it will also keep you focused. It will also make managing your calendar much easier since there are fewer blocks to fill.

2. Schedule the best week ever.

Wait. Didn’t you just draft an annual plan? Yes. But, schedules change and new priorities pop-up throughout the year. That doesn’t mean that they’re any less important. It’s just that you don’t have a crystal ball and see that far into the future.

Either every Friday afternoon or Sunday evening, map out your ideal week. You can start by listing all of your tasks for the week and then prioritizing the list. From there, add your priorities into your calendar.

Just make sure that you schedule the right tasks at the right time. For instance, base your schedule around your energy levels and deadlines. If a deadline is for Thursday morning, then it wouldn’t make sense to work on this task at ten o’clock on Wednesday night.

3. Seize the day!

You’ve got an idea of how you’re going to spend the next week and even year to an extent. But, what would your dest day ever look like? I doubt it would be sleeping-in, rushing to work, and working until the wee hours of the night.

Or, would you rather wake-up and start the day on the right foot? You know, squeeze in an exercise, catch-up on the news, and enjoy a healthy breakfast. How about knowing exactly what to work on and when so that you’re working smarter, not harder. And, wouldn’t you want to end the day by doing something that you enjoy like relaxing or spending quality time with your nearest and dearest?

Determine what would make your day the best day ever. Afterward, schedule accordingly so that you can control and seize the day.

4. Always think before you act.

We’ve all fallen into this trap. You set down at your desk and then open-up your inbox. Next thing you know, you’ve just spent 30-minutes going through your emails. Another example would be you start looking for a misplaced item and then decide that it’s a good time to declutter and organize your office.

These are both activities that need to get done. But, do they need to be addressed at this very second? Probably not. In fact, getting distracted by these less important tasks can throw off the schedule that you’ve already planned.

Before diving into an activity, ask yourself if it’s worth doing right now. If not, schedule it for when you have the availability.

5. Have a well-equipped toolbox.

If you’re a homeowner, then you should know the importance of having a well-equipped toolbox. It’s essential for basic tasks like hanging a picture or doing a little home repair. Even if you rent an apartment, you should still have a basic toolbox handy.

The same idea applies to your calendar and schedule management. Instead of relying on a wall or desktop-sized calendar, download a calendar app. It’s more accessible and portable than the old paper calendar. And, it can easily be shared with others.

On top of a calendar app, also look into tools like scheduling software. Calendar, for example, uses machine learning to make smart suggestions on how to schedule events. It’s much more convenient than going playing phone or email tag when planning a meeting.

6. Your kiss is on my list.

Unlike Hall & Oates, I don’t mean this literally. I’m actually talking about the KISS Principle.

Short for “keep it simple stupid.” The idea comes from a Navy design principle from the 60s. It’s great advice for all aspects of your life. But, it’s particularly useful when it comes to your calendar.

As a computer scientist and author of “The Laws of Simplicity,” John Maeda explains, “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.” For example, you wouldn’t want to create a complicated calendar system just to keep track of habitual actions like brushing your teeth. Instead, you would add entries like deep work.

7. Pick-up timeboxing.

Ditch your to-do-lists and embrace a simple productivity hack known as timeboxing. As explained in another Calendar article, this is where you open your calendar and block off an exact amount of time to a specific task.

According to Marc Zao-Sanders over on HBR, timeboxing encourages you to get the right thing done at the right time. Additionally, it “enables you to communicate and collaborate more effectively.” Timeboxing also creates a “comprehensive record of what you’ve done, makes you feel more in control, and fights back against Parkinson’s Law.

8. Become a microscheduler.

You wouldn’t think that Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Wahlberg, and internet celebrities like Elaine Lui, and Casey Neistat would have much in common. But, they all share a scheduling habit where they break their days into five to seven-minute blocks.

Also known as microscheduling, this is a rigid schedule that doesn’t allow for much wiggle room. However, it ensures that you maximize and protect your time. And, according to Insider, “Microschedulers feel calmer when they have their plan, prioritized to-do list, and an organized structure to their day.”

9. Work in batches.

Batching is one of my favorite time management techniques. Besides being easy to implement, it’s also effective. Simply block out time in your schedule to focus on a group of similar tasks. Examples would be running all of your errands at the same time, cooking all of your meals on Sunday, or checking your inbox at predetermined times.

The reason why batching works is because it prevents multitasking. It also reduces the time spent switching between tasks.

10. Aim to be early.

Let’s say that the due date for a project is on the twentieth of the month. Bump that deadline up by a couple of days. No matter how organized you are, Murphy’s Law is always lurking in the shadows. So, it’s better to have met this deadline in advance just to be safe.

You can also use this technique for meetings. If a meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m., then plan to be there at 1:50 so that you don’t run late. Arriving early also gives you the opportunity to prepare and review the agenda.

11. Put a “P” on your calendar.

She may have a song that emphasizes how much she works. But, in reality, Rihanna prioritizes downtime.

“I never used to be this way,” RiRi told Interview Magazine. “It’s only the last couple of years that I started to realize that you need to make time for yourself because your mental health depends on it.”

“If you’re not happy, you’re not going to be happy even doing things that you love doing,” she added. “It’d feel like a chore. I never want to work to feel like a chore.”

To make time for herself, Rihanna places “the infamous ‘P,’ which means personal days” onto her calendar. That’s it. She just puts a “P,” which is a different color, on her calendar to protect her personal time.

12. Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar.

I’m not actually a fan of Kit Kat bars. But, that jingle. It’s timeless. And, so is the advice it shares, “Give me a break.”

Make sure that you schedule breaks in your calendar. It gives you the chance to recharge and refocus. After all, we can only focus on one task for so long. Track your energy patterns to see when you’re most productive and when your energy begins to lag. It’s different for everyone. But, usually, we can work for around an hour before taking a break. After that, take a 10-20 minute break before getting back to work.

13. Schedule BBTs.

Back burner tasks are those things that you never get around to. Usually, this is because they’re not all that important and you just don’t want to do. Examples would be calling your insurance company or cleaning the bathroom.

Despite not being a top priority, they’re usually things that you eventually have to get around to doing before they pile-up. Don’t forget to schedule these responsibilities when you have spare time. Saturday mornings as an example, are perfect for scrubbing your bathroom.

14. Use reminders strategically.

Perhaps one of the most underutilized features of a calendar is reminders. Most of us just stick with the default. But, when used correctly and sparingly it can differently be an asset.

Let’s say that you have a meeting scheduled for next week. Set a reminder a week in advance so that you can send the agenda out to attendees. Set another reminder a day prior to giving you enough time to prepare. And, set a final reminder an hour before just in case you get in the zone and lose track of time.

15. Strike while the iron’s hot.

Earlier in my career, I was terrible at following-up with professional contacts. I’d meet people at an event and promise to keep in touch. But, because I didn’t schedule a meeting, I never did. Now, when I meet a contact, I share my schedule with them on the spot and schedule a follow-up with them.

The same is true of any event that you plan on attending. Whether if it’s meeting with clients, a dentist appointment, or conference, once booked add it immediately to your calendar. If not, you may accidentally schedule something else during the same date and time.

16. Stop playing the victim.

Growing up there was this older kid who got a kick out of being a bully. One day I finally had enough and stood up to him. Guess what? He never bothered me again.

I’m not suggesting physical violence here. I’m saying that you need to stop making excuses and stand up for yourself — especially when it comes to your time. If you can’t focus because your phone is constantly going off, then turn the thing off. If you feel like you’re stretched for time, then start saying “no” to time requests.

Heck, even if you do say “yes” you can always reclaim your time if the request seems like a waste. Just make sure to give adequate notice.

17. Change your view.

Did you know that online calendars offer multiple views? These include daily, weekly, or monthly. There are also more specific views like your work schedule or every two days. Find a view that works best for you.

Personally, I enjoy the one that displays every two days. It keeps me focused on today and helps plan for tomorrow. It also events me from getting distracted on what I need to do a week or so from now.

18. Set time limits on your tasks.

If you know that you only have an hour to clean out your inbox, update your social channels, and return a phone call, then you’ll be motivated to do all of these within that timeframe. If you give yourself too much time, then you’ll just goof around since you have too much time on your hands. It’s all thanks to that darn Parkinson’s Law.

I would track your time for more important tasks though. You certainly don’t want to under-or-overestimate how long these items take.

19. Eliminate back-to-back appointments.

Just because it’s acceptable in the business world to schedule back-to-back meetings doesn’t mean you have to. I would even go as far as to say that you should never book back-to-back appointments. The reason? It’s just going to end badly.

You need time in-between meetings to travel, prepare, or just decompress for five minutes. If you have any back-to-back appointments currently in your calendar, reschedule one of them immediately. And, going forward, always give yourself a buffer.

20. Revise your approach to meetings.

Speaking of meetings, you’re probably going about them all wrong. In most cases, meetings are unproductive. Even worse, they’re a blight on your schedule.

Only accept meetings that serve a purpose. If they don’t, find an alternative like a quick phone call or Slack message. If you must plan a meeting, keeping them short, invite-only key stakeholders, and stick to your agenda.

21. Keep your calendar or schedule visible.

We’re visual creates. So, it wouldn’t hurt to place your calendar where you can see it. It could be a giant wall-sized calendar or placed on your desktop. Now you’ll always have a visual reminder on what needs to get done today, tomorrow, or even next month.

22. Create titles that catch the eye.

Spice up your calendar by creating more helpful titles. Instead of ‘Meeting’ go with something like ‘Sales Pitch.” Also use color-coding, boldface, or different fonts for each title. It will make these important entries to stand out and will help you plan more accordingly.

23. Let AI do the hard work.

Artificial intelligence is here. And, it’s changing the world for the better.

Case in point, smart calendars. These calendars can track how you spend your time and analyze your activity in order to make recommendations on how you can better spend your time. These tools can then automatically add recurring events to your calendar.

24. Step back and take a big-picture view of your calendar.

Periodically, review your calendar. Make sure that it’s a current reflection of your priorities and is helping you achieve work-life balance. If not, then find out what items on your calendar can be delegated or dropped.

25. You do you.

Finally, in the immortal words of Jon Bon Jovi, “It’s my life. It’s now or never.”’

When it comes to your calendar and schedule, find the methods and tools that work best for you. It might take some trial and error. But, when you find a management system that suits you, stick with it.

How to Create and Manage a Team Calendar at Your Startup

By | Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments
Team schedule

If you want to keep everything running smoothly at your startup, then you need to live by a team calendar. After all, a shared calendar improves communication and efficiency, balances out assignments, and boosts productivity. Oh yeah, your team calendar is also ideal for startups since they make long and hectic days more organized and manageable. Here’s how to create and manage a team calendar at your startup.

Specifically, team calendars are used for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • Reminding everyone of deadlines and due dates.
  • Scheduling meetings, client calls, one-on-ones, and work schedules.
  • Notifying others when you’re available or busy.
  • Mapping out projects, such as a content schedule.
  • Tracking the progress of a project.

That’s just scratching the surface. But, as you can see, a calendar doesn’t just keep your team on the same page. It also creates accountability and keeps them focused on their priorities.

However, the only way that your team will receive these benefits is by adequately creating and managing a team calendar from the get-go. And, here are the best ways to get you started.

1. Find and use a cloud-based calendar app.

The first step is to find a calendar tool for your startup. Of course, this depends on what you actually need in terms of a calendar. But, at the minimum, it should be easy to use, shareable, and fits within your budget.

Here are some of the more popular options you can look into:

  • Google Calendar. It’s free, straightforward, and can be used for scheduling meetings and reminding your team of important milestones. You can also create your own calendar templates using Docs or Sheets.
  • Microsoft Outlook. This is a little more complicated, but most people are familiar with it. It’s perfect for generating schedules and agendas. Also, you can design your own template with Excel.
  • Apple Calendar. A very easy-to-use calendar if you and your team rely on Apple products.

Besides the “big three,” you may want to look into some other options. For example, TeamUp and Teamweek are calendars explicitly built for keeping teams organized. Project management software that helps organizational efforts are Trello and Wrike.

Also, make sure that whatever online calendar you use can be synched with other tools. Calendar, as an example, syncs with your existing Google, Outlook, or Apple calendars so that you can schedules events with your team. Since it uses machine learning, Calendar can also make smart suggestions on scheduling your next meeting.

2. Assign a calendar keeper.

After you’ve chosen your calendar app, make sure that only one person is in charge of it — this can be either you or an assistant. If you have too many people adding and editing entries, then your calendar is going to become one hot mess. With so many people adjusting the calendar, it’s going to become cluttered and full of scheduling conflicts.

Obviously, you want your team calendar to be collaborative and inclusive. But, that doesn’ mean that everyone should have the power to make changes to the calendar. Instead, it should go through the calendar keeper first to keep it clean and organized.

3. Customize your calendar.

Perhaps one of the best things about online calendars is that they can be customized. For instance, you can create as many calendars as you like, like one for tasks related to a project, another for meetings, and another for when employees are on vacation. You can then color-code each calendar so that they’re easily differentiated.

Additionally, you can change how and when reminders are received. For instance, you could turn off desktop notifications to reduce distractions. Also, you can determine when to send reminders out, like 15-minutes before the start of a meeting.

4. Add non-negotiable items.

These may not be precisely the same for you and your team. A non-negotiable item would include items that are essential such as a project due date or an in-house client meeting. These could consist of essential appointments, predetermined meetings, and daily activities that help reach a goal.

Placing these items into your team’s calendar ensures that something less important won’t steal any valuable time from your startup. However, the sooner you insert them, the better. This way, when someone tries to schedule another activity during this timeframe, it’s already blocked out.

5. Determine your team’s peak productivity.

We all have different times when we’re most productive thanks to our natural rhythms. But, researchers have found that a majority of us are most productive before lunch. So, what does that mean for your team as a whole?

You’ll want to schedule your most essential tasks when everyone is alert and focused early in the morning. You would block out this time for everyone to work undistributed, as opposed to having them sit in a meeting. You would then plan for less critical work to be scheduled during productivity slumps. Productivity changes during different times of the year, as well. Calendar your most vital issues early in the year — like January and February. Keep in mind productive months like October and the not-so-much months of summer.

To find out when you and your team are at peak productivity, have everyone track their time to see how it’s being spent. You can then review the data. Or, you can issue polls or surveys to find this information out.

6. Stagger employee schedules.

While this may sound like a lot of work up front, this allows for more flexible scheduling so that you’re never under-or-overstaffed. It also allows you to plan accordingly. For example, if your entire team asks for the same time off during the summer or the holiday season, then you won’t have anyone available to work. However, with a team calendar, people can view when other’s have planned a vacation so that they can select a different time to getaway.

7. Include time buffers and blank spaces.

Unlike the Engineer Bunny, humans can’t keep going and going. We need to take breaks throughout the day to clear our heads and prepare for what we have planned next. To account for this, schedule time buffers and white in your calendar.

For example, don’t plan back-to-back meetings. Leave 30-minutes before each event so that everyone can digest what was just discussed, grab something to eat, and prep for the next meeting. Also, leaving chunks of time free gives your calendar a little more flexibility in case your schedule shifts because of an emergency.

8. Consider synching personal calendars.

Synching doesn’t mean forcing your team to share every detail of their private lives. But, it does let everyone see when they’re free or busy. For instance, if a colleague is traveling to meet a client for lunch, then the rest of your startup will know that this person is unavailable during this timeframe.

Also, it can come in handy when someone plans a vacation. Again, you don’t need to know the specifics. But, at least everyone will know when this person is out of town and when they’ll return.

9. Don’t forget about the holidays and time zones.

As remote teams are becoming increasingly popular, time zones are definitely something that you should be aware of. It may be 3 P.M. for you, which is an excellent time for a meeting, but for some of your team, it could be noon, meaning that they’ll have to skip lunch.

Furthermore, if working with an overseas team, they may have a national holiday where they request off. As such, you don’t want to plan a meeting or due date for that day.

10. Toss out everything you thought you knew about meetings.

Having a meeting for the sake of doing so doesn’t just harm productivity. It can also kill morale. So, before filling the calendar with a ton of meetings, make sure that it’s necessary. If it is, then don’t use the default time suggested by your calendar. Instead, change the time to how much you actually need — most of the time, this is under 30-minutes.

And, speaking of meetings, please don’t schedule any at the last minute. Not only is this disrespectful, but it can also lead to confusion and poor attendance. If you need to go over a topic at this very minute, consider alternatives like email or Slack until you can schedule a meeting.

11. Review your team calendar frequently.

Finally, review your team calendar frequently. After all, projects are completed, schedules change, and new responsibilities pop-up. If you don’t factor in these changes, then your calendar is outdated and obsolete.

As an example, team members who are parents may require more flexible schedules around various points throughout the year. A more flexible schedule may be especially true during the summer and holiday breaks.

Register Now & Get a 30 Day Trial Register Now