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How to Manage the Influx of Back-to-School New Customers

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New Customers; Busy Hair Salon

Students aren’t the only ones who deal with back-to-school stress — an appointment-based business can, too. Whether you operate a hair salon or a healthcare facility, you may be affected by an increase in new customers as the school year begins. Consequently, a busier schedule is a great opportunity for business but can also lead to stress and turmoil if managed improperly.

Is your business feeling unprepared for an increase in appointments? Here are a few ways you can prepare for the influx of customers as students return to campus.

Prepare Your Staff

A happy customer starts with a happy employee. While businesses enjoy customer satisfaction, it’s important you aren’t sacrificing your employees’ happiness as a result. As a result, an increase in appointments can lead to employees deferring their own needs.

Whether it’s for a doctor’s appointment or a therapy session, make sure your employees still feel comfortable taking time off when needed. To prioritize your employees’ well-being, start by providing a healthy work environment your employees feel comfortable being a part of.

One way to reduce the stress of your employees could be to offer additional paid time off. An overstuffed schedule can lead to employee burnout.

Reward your employees for taking on ample new appointments by providing them with the relaxation they deserve. After some time off, they will come back less stressed and more welcoming toward new clients.

Offer Deals on Services

For many college students, going back to school also means relocating to another city or state. Searching for a new hair salon, doctor’s office, or therapist can be overwhelming, especially when those services are expensive.

Relieve stress for new clients on tight budgets by offering deals on your services and loyalty program discounts. Extending special appointment deals to new student clients can make them feel better about choosing your business.

Special discounts are a great reward to give as an appointment-based business.

For example, if you own a beauty salon, you could give a first-time bonus to new customers for your initial services. This could include a free eyebrow wax, bonus facial massage, or a discounted haircut. Such offers not only help your customers save money, they also allow them to become familiar with your services.

Therefore, start cycling these deals for birthdays and anniversaries to continue to pique interest in your company.

Balance Scheduled and Walk-In Appointments

The arrival of new clients can lead to long wait times, which can ultimately turn away both new and current clients. Prevent losing your customers to competitors by properly balancing your scheduled and walk-in appointments.

If you do accept walk-ins, try limiting the range of services you provide to those without a scheduled appointment.

For example, if you own a tattoo studio, only offer to accept walk-ins if the client needs a touch-up or consultation. If they’re seeking a more time-consuming service, make them an appointment for a later date. That way, you avoid increasing the wait time of customers already on your schedule.

If your business doesn’t accept walk-in appointments, make sure this is clearly stated to avoid annoying would-be customers.

Turn this policy into a positive opportunity for new customers by giving them an incentive to schedule in advance. You might provide a coupon to those who make their first appointment online or offer a bonus service for booking in advance. Either is a great way to keep your clients satisfied without overworking your employees.

Keep Information Updated and Relevant

Save your customers hassle by ensuring your business’s information is updated and easily accessible.

Try looking at your business from a client perspective to see where your company can improve. Review your company website to see whether it states your current business hours and provides the location information they need to visit your business.

Update any required online customer information forms and ensure all links navigate to the correct pages. Many times, your online presence is your customer’s first impression of your business. Avoid phone calls from confused prospects by tidying up your site’s information.

To remain relevant to your new customers, your business must stay current with the latest technologies.

Update any outdated tech so that you can handle more customer traffic without the pain of slow response times or server crashes. Robust appointment software that enables automated email reminders and calendar sync options can make your business run more smoothly.

With help from these technologies, you can take on more customers and retain old ones, thereby increasing business revenue.

Appreciate Your Increased Business

Back-to-school season is a great time to boost revenue and build loyalty among customers and employees.

It can also be a joyful experience for college students, as they embrace the adventure of a new school year. You’ll do right by customers new and old if you prepare your business for the influx and attend to your staff’s needs. By following the tips above, you can optimize your back-to-school customer experience.

Featured Image Credit: David Geib; Pexels.com. Thank you!

Have Better Financial Health by Using Your Calendar

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financial health

It’s incredibly easy to lose track of your financial obligations when you’ve got so much on your plate. But, it’s not just about keeping a budget on track either. It’s also about paying bills on time and saving money.

Thankfully, using a calendar to schedule essential milestones and reminders is one of the best ways to take control of your finances. Calendar apps are readily available for all mobile devices. Or, if you prefer to go old school, you can download and print one for your home or office. If you do that, you can stay on top of your monthly, quarterly, and annual financial obligations in just a few minutes a week.

Of course, this can be daunting. But, here’s our advice for getting the ball rolling.

Maintain a monthly schedule of financial obligations.

Keep track of monthly financial commitments with a calendar to avoid becoming overwhelmed. How? By focusing on the following areas:

  • Budgeting. Budgeting is an excellent tool for getting your finances in check. Effort and time are required, though. So, make it a habit to track your spending and ensure it’s within your budget. And that’s easy to do by setting up calendar reminders. By making this a routine, you’ll be able to avoid overspending before the next paycheck comes.
  • Contributions to savings accounts. You should dedicate a portion of your income to one or more savings accounts first. Not only can a savings account help you prepare for unforeseen events, but it can also help you make down payments on a home or vehicle. It can also help you save for a family vacation. Every week, set aside some time on your calendar to see if your budgeting efforts resulted in extra savings.
  • Paying your bills. It’s easy to set up automatic payments through your bank. But you’re still on the hook when it comes to paying your bills. Ensure your account has sufficient funds and receive a gentle reminder each week to make sure these automatic payments are paid correctly and on time by using a calendar.
  • Deposit tracking. Is your paycheck deposited directly into your bank account? To ensure that your funds have arrived on time and are in the correct amount, set a reminder on your calendar. Direct deposits can be delayed or incorrectly credited to your account due to accounting errors. At the same time, they are rare.

Assess your financial health every quarter.

Take the next step by setting up reminders for checking in on your budgeting progress, checking for savings opportunities, and paying bills on time.

  • Examine your financial situation holistically. Each quarter, set aside an hour to review your financial progress. Did you save $1,800 for holiday gift-buying expenses this year? Will you be able to reach this goal at your current savings rate? Budget adjustments are necessary if this is not the case.
  • Find out what the current interest rates are. Has there been a change in interest rates since last quarter? It may be beneficial to refinance your mortgage or consider growing your money in a term account if rates go up.

Be prepared for significant financial commitments by using annual reminders.

New year’s resolutions are great and all. However, it’s also a great time to prepare for future financial commitments like:

  • Tax season. Make a note in your calendar to begin collecting essential tax documents as soon as possible. At the very least, you’ll need your W-2 from your employer, 1099s for dividends, mortgage interest, child care costs, and receipts for deductions.
  • Exemptions from property taxes. Property tax exemptions such as homestead, disability, and others can also be filed at the beginning of the year. Depending on your state, you may qualify for various exemptions. Contact your county’s tax assessment office for more information.
  • Make sure your credit report is accurate. A free annual credit report is a great way to ring in the new year. Using this report, you can view the status of credit cards, car loans, mortgages, and more associated with your name and social security number. Examine this report thoroughly to identify errors so you can contact the vendor directly to resolve them before your credit score is affected.

As you can see, you can drastically improve your financial health using your calendar. But, let’s take your financial planning to the next level by preparing a personal finance calendar.

Sample Month-by-Month Personal Finance Calendar

How you create a personal financial calendar is totally up to you. What’s more, everyone has their key dates. For example, if you are a student, you don’t have to be concerned with dates like when to apply for financial aid. With that said, here’s a sample month-by-month personal finance calendar you can use as a template.

January: Get your finances in shape.

  • Calendar yourself out of debt. Put a three-to-six-month emergency fund together. And, if you haven’t already, pay off all your high-cost, non-deductible credit cards.
  • Create (or update) a statement of personal net worth. This would be the prior year’s income minus expenses.
  • Your portfolio should be reevaluated, and its asset mix should match your risk tolerance and time horizon.
  • Verify your workplace retirement plan’s eligibility and contribution limit. Then, make sure you contribute enough to take advantage of any employer matching benefits.
  • Check your insurance policies. If you don’t have health insurance, January 15 is crucial. If you’re getting health insurance through HealthCare.gov, it’s the last day to enroll in or change plans for the year. After that, only special enrollment periods after this date will allow you to enroll or change plans. And, while you’re at it, check your other insurance policies, like auto and life, to ensure you’re not paying too much.
  • You must file your fourth-quarter estimated income tax payment by January 18 if you don’t pay enough income tax through regular payroll withholding.
  • It is recommended that you receive your tax forms 1099, 1098, and W-2 by January 31 (for some 1099s, by February 15).
  • Rebalancing your investment portfolio can be combined with your cash-flow planning if you’re retired.

February: Organize your tax documents and go frugal.

  • The first week of the month is the best time to organize your W-2s, interest and dividend statements, and other tax documents.
  • A popular idea that has been around for several years is the Frugal February Challenge. Here you would spend a bit less, save a bit more, and get your money situation more organized during this shorter-than-average month.

March: Plan your refund and bonus.

  • If you’ve received a tax refund, bonus, or pay increase in March, choose a date to allocate it.
  • Additionally, use your employer’s annual bonus thoughtfully to maximize its potential benefits. You might be tempted to splurge on a bonus, but consider using it to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, or contribute to your retirement account.
  • Also, Medicare enrollees have until March 31 to apply for Parts A and B for coverage starting in July. If that applies to you, mark this date down.

April: Pay your taxes.

  • Tax returns must be filed by April 15. Any taxes you owe by April 15 still have to be paid, even if you’re getting an automatic six-month extension.
  • IRA and Coverdell Education Savings Account contributions for the prior year must be made by April 15.
  • The 15th of April is the deadline for first-quarter estimated income tax payments, if applicable.
  • You might want to mark April 22 as “Teach Children to Save Day” if you have kids. This program is sponsored by the American Bankers Association and aims to encourage young people to save.

May: Maintain a healthy debt load.

  • Make use of this month to determine your debt load. Provide a detailed breakdown of your debt. And make sure you include all your monthly debt payments in your debt-to-income ratio. Ideally, you want to keep that ratio under 36%.
  • Will you be attending a big event or performing a great activity in the next few months, such as a wedding or summer vacation? Make sure you plan ahead and budget accordingly to avoid unnecessary debt.

June: Assess your finances mid-year to ensure you’re on track.

  • You should compare your projected cash flows with your actual income and expenses.
  • Do you have enough money saved for retirement and other expenses?
  • Make sure your cash flow projections match your actual income and expenses. Also, withhold or pay quarterly taxes.
  • If you’re a college student, mark June 30 in your calendar. This is the last day to apply for federal student aid for the upcoming academic calendar year.

July: Improve your financial IQ.

  • Take advantage of the dog days of summer to build or refresh your money skills. For instance, your summer reading list should include at least one book on investing or personal finance.

August: Take steps to improve your credit score.

  • Put a reminder on your calendar to check your credit score with Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Then, make sure it stays healthy by learning how to maintain it.
  • You may also want to compare what you actually spent on expenses like summer vacation or back-to-school supplies. You can use this to budget for next year to avoid debt.

September: Review your benefits and quarterly taxes.

  • The 15th of September is the deadline for third-quarter estimated income tax payments, if applicable.
  • Usually, employer benefits enroll in the fall and last for four to six weeks. Don’t forget to review your health choices, 401(k), and other benefits you receive as an employee.

October: Get ahead on college funding.

  • While you can wait until next year to file your FAFSA for the 2023-2024 school year, you can start on October 1. This is because some colleges use a first-come, first-served policy.
  • If you requested a six-month extension in April, you must file your income tax return by October 15.

November: Plan for next year’s health care costs and holiday spending.

  • Enrollment in the federal health insurance marketplace for 2023 begins on November 1. There will be an open enrollment period on HealthCare.gov between Nov. 1, 2022, and Jan. 15, 2023.
  • You might also want to start planning your holiday shopping at this time. Make sure you don’t charge more than you can comfortably pay back in full on your credit card statements in January

December: Celebrate another year in the books.

  • Consider how your financial decisions before the end of the year might affect your taxes next year before the new year arrives. For example:
  • Would you like to make one more 401(k) contribution?
  • Is there any way to deduct donations from charity?
  • To possibly lower your tax liability and better position your portfolio going forward, consider tax-loss harvesting if you’ve lost value in your investments this year.
  • If you’re doing well financially, perhaps it’s time to watch the ball drop, relax, and get ready for the New Year.

Image Credit: Image by Bich Tran; Pexels; Thank you!

Have Better Financial Health by Using Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

Use Your Online Calendar to Manage Your Home Repairs

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home repairs

It’s the little home repairs that keep your home together. I know. That sounds hyperbolic. ‌However, by repairing that leaky faucet, cleaning your gutters, and weatherstripping your windows, you can prevent more significant problems, such as‌ ‌severe ‌water damage.

Simple maintenance, beyond checking that everything works, can also extend the life of your appliances and systems that maintain your home. ‌You can also save money by performing regular maintenance. ‌Additionally, it reduces the threat to your family’s ‌safety.

A survey by the real estate marketplace Zillow found that 75% of pandemic-era homebuyers regretted their decision. The top regret? ‌Buying a house that needed more maintenance than they anticipated

Although managing your home repairs can seem daunting and expensive, there isn’t always a need to spend money on these expenses. ‌It is usually just a matter of remembering to do these chores. ‌What is difficult is knowing what needs to be done to maintain your house at what time.

So, the easiest solution? ‌Utilize your online calendar to remind yourself of the most important, common home maintenance tasks. ‌If you schedule home projects of all sizes, from small touch-ups to whole-room remodels, you’ll be able to accomplish them faster and more easily. And, this is how your time-management‌ ‌tool‌ ‌can‌ ‌help.

Schedule Daily Cleanings

Even if your week is jam-packed, you can still incorporate daily house cleaning into your schedule. ‌But how? ‌Through your online calendar.

Start by assigning certain chores to specific‌ ‌days‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌week. ‌By doing so, your to-do list will become less overwhelming. ‌As‌ ‌a‌ ‌result,‌ ‌your cleaning tasks will be more manageable.

For an example of what a little strategic planning can accomplish, check out the following house cleaning checklist.

  • Monday: Clean your bathrooms. After the weekend, your bathroom probably needs some attention. ‌Take care of this chore ‌early‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌week, like cleaning the toilet. ‌Don’t deal with any‌ ‌heavy-duty cleaning,‌ ‌like‌ ‌scrubbing‌ ‌grout until the weekend though.
  • Tuesday: Dust common areas. You should lightly dust all surfaces in the living and dining rooms. You can use an upholstery attachment to clean drapes and furniture after vacuuming to remove any dust that may have fallen.
  • Wednesday: ‌Make the kitchen sparkle. As part of your regular house cleaning routine, you already wipe down your countertops after meals and wash your dishes on a daily basis. ‌This time, you’ll clean other kitchen areas as well, like warping the stovetop and cabinets.
  • Thursday: Attend to your bedroom. Go ahead and dust your dressers, vacuum, and put away unused items like shoes or clothing.
  • Friday: ‌De-clutter‌ ‌your‌ ‌mind. ‌Congratulations on sticking to your daily routine all week. Veg out in your clean‌ ‌home. ‌Do some laundry if you must clean. ‌As it washes and dries, you can read a book or watch a movie while it is doing its thing.

Prepare a Home Maintenance Plan

The frequency and season of your tasks can be noted either online or offline. ‌Remember that there is no right or wrong way to do things. In other words, you can do things when and how it works for you and your family. ‌

But, to get you on your way, you can use this house maintenance calendar to keep track of monthly, quarterly, and annual activities. Also, to ensure you don’t forget, use calendar reminders.

Monthly

  • Make sure all the locks and deadbolts on your doors and windows are working.
  • Check and replace your HVAC filters as needed. ‌You may need to change your filters every 2-3 months if you have a small family and no pets or allergies. ‌If not, do so every month.
  • Keep your kitchen sink disposal clean. ‌When the disposal is dirty, run homemade vinegar ice cubes through it. ‌The blades will be sharpened and the area will be cleaned.
  • Filters on your range hood need to be checked. ‌Use an auto degreaser diluted in hot water to clean the filters.
  • Ensure your GFCI outlets and power outlets are working properly.

Quarterly

  • Check your smoke and CO‌ ‌detectors. ‌They usually come with‌ ‌a‌ ‌test‌ ‌button. ‌When you press the button, you should hear an alarm. ‌Replace the batteries if not.
  • Make sure your garage door is working. ‌The auto-reverse feature should work properly. Placing a log of wood on the ground will allow you to see whether the door reverses automatically. ‌Place something in front of your photo-electric sensors if you have them installed. ‌Your sensors will go ‌up‌ ‌immediately.
  • If a toilet is unused, such as in a guest bathroom, flush it. ‌To prevent grime or any buildup in the bathroom sinks, run water.

Seasonal

There are different times of the year to perform annual home maintenance. ‌It’s important to prepare your house for each season. ‌In order to do so, regular maintenance must be performed.

Spring home maintenance.

  • Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clean. ‌Get rid of leaves and debris, grime, or sediment left over from the winter.
  • Replace storm windows with screens and wash windows.
  • Ensure that your drainage system is working properly. ‌The landscape so that rainwater or any other water flowing from the house and its foundation will flow away.
  • Clear your property of any dead plants or tree stumps. ‌Your shrubs and bushes should also be trimmed. ‌Your home’s exterior cracks can be damaged further by wayward plants. ‌Check that no trees are interfering with your electric lines as well.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Carry a roof inspection for signs of damage or leaks. Take professional help for any roof repair.
  • Examine your house’s ‌exterior‌. ‌Look for peeling exterior paint, damaged siding, foundation cracks, or broken windows‌ ‌and‌ ‌doors. ‌Hire‌ ‌a‌ ‌professional‌ ‌to fix these problems.
  • Before summer, make sure your air conditioner is serviced. ‌Consult the user manual when you maintain your HVAC system yourself. ‌A central air conditioner is a more complex system than a window air conditioner and should be handled by a professional.

Summer home maintenance

  • Wash your patio or deck. ‌Restain the deck if necessary. ‌You should also check for any loose boards or posts, as well as any problems with the railing.
  • Look for damage to your tile grout in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Find any leaks in the plumbing system. ‌Make sure the water pressure is good as well.
  • Make more space for your summer projects by cleaning and organizing your garage.
  • Get rid of lint and blockages in your dryer vent.

Fall home maintenance

  • Put a tarp or cover over your AC until‌ ‌next‌ ‌season.
  • Check the caulking and weatherstripping on windows and doors.
  • Inspect your hot water heater for leaks and sediments. This will prolong your heater’s life and increase its efficiency.
  • Prepare your heating systems, furnaces, and fireplaces.
  • You should winterize your sprinklers.
  • Check your sump pump’s functioning. ‌That’s especially true if you live in a rainy area.
  • Look for cracks in your driveway or pathways. ‌Before winter, seal all the cracks so snow can’t freeze and expand. If not, this can cause ‌more‌ ‌damage.
  • Clean and store patio furniture, as well as garden tools.

Winter home maintenance

  • Watch out for ice dams and icicles on your roof are not only dangerous, but they can cause water damage in your home too.
  • Make sure all tubs and showers are working and caulked properly.
  • Maintain a high water pressure by cleaning the showerheads.
  • Take a look at the basement and see if any mold or mildew is growing.

Biannual

  • Check the pressure relief valve on your water heater. ‌If you check it regularly, you can avoid corrosion and mineral buildup. ‌Furthermore, you will use less energy.
  • Every six months, deep clean your whole house. ‌Keep your appliances, garage, basement, doors, and windows clean to prevent dust buildup.
  • Smoke and carbon dioxide detectors need to be recharged every six months.
  • Using a vacuum cleaner, clean the coils of your refrigerator. ‌You’ll be able to maximize the efficiency of your appliance by doing so. ‌

Arrange Appointments as Soon as Possible

Home improvement professionals can make all the difference. ‌Your home’s foundation is protected by pest control by keeping away bugs and critters. ‌Plumbers can‌ ‌stop leaks from causing‌ ‌mold. And, HVAC specialists ensure that your home remains comfortable and is energy efficient.

Here’s the problem. ‌Last-minute bookings of home professionals can be stressful. ‌It’s better to contact them before an emergency arises. And, ideally, you should also book them when they aren’t as busy. For example, why wait to schedule your annual chimney cleaning until November? Instead, make an appointment when they have more availability, like in August or September.

In that sense, you can schedule appointments in advance thanks to your online calendar. Additionally, a calendar is an excellent‌ ‌record-keeping‌ ‌tool. ‌With digital home repair scheduling, you can look backward to see when your roof was last replaced, for instance.

Budget For Home Repairs

You can have trouble making home repairs if you don’t have the funds. ‌The best way to deal with emergency repairs is to budget for them. ‌A good way to budget is to use your online calendar.

With an online calendar, you can start your home-improvement fund easily. ‌Put a reminder in your pay period to add a little‌ ‌to‌ ‌your‌ ‌fund. ‌You won’t be caught short of funds by a surprise home repair if you set aside just $100 per month.

Nonetheless, when you are planning your home repair budget, the 1% rule of thumb is a good place to start. “Using 1% as a rule of thumb for home maintenance is actually a great example of when the common wisdom for something is pretty spot-on,” according to Mischa Fisher, a chief economist at HomeAdvisor and Angi.

According to Fisher, the numbers are reasonably‌ ‌accurate. “Our latest’ State of Home Spending’ report has average [annual] upkeep spending at $3,192, roughly 1% of the median home value in the U.S., which is a little over $300,000.”

If you’re considering buying a “fixer upper,” you’ll likely need to budget for substantial home repairs from the get go. Especially for first time home buyers, you may need more cash for repairs than you have set aside. Sure, you might think you have plenty saved up, but down payments and other closing fees can deplete your savings quickly.

So for those fixer upper expenses, you’ll want to navigate the mortgage pre-approval process accordingly. That means letting your lender know about including repair expenses in the mortgage and estimating how much it will cost.

Don’t Clutter Your Calendar

You can better handle stress when you manage your time effectively. ‌‌‌As an example, if your schedule is organized, an unexpected issue at home, such as a broken pipe, or clog will not catch you by surprise.

While time management can be improved in many ways, the end goal remains‌ ‌the‌ ‌same. ‌You want to be in control more of your time. ‌Getting to bed earlier or arranging childcare more efficiently might help you make better use of your mornings. But, I’m also big on not cluttering your calendar as well.

What does that mean? Well, it simply means leaving some blocks of time wide-open. So, if there is an emergency at home, that’s when you can attend to it. More importantly, when you have some free time on your hands, you can get a head start on a home repair. Or, maybe you can do a quick inspection that makes sure that everything’s in tip-top shape.

Image Credit: picjumbo.com; Pexels; Thank you!

Use Your Online Calendar to Manage Your Home Repairs was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health

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mental health

Your most important asset isn’t your car, your house, or even your professional expertise; it’s your mental health.

The rest of your life relies on your mental wellbeing. Especially while the world is facing COVID-19, you have to protect it with every tool available to you — including your online calendar.

What Your Calendar Can Do for You

Your online calendar can’t change your mental state by itself, but it can help you implement and maintain healthier habits. You might be surprised at just how much your mental health improves when you:

1. Schedule Breaks

Going full-throttle all day, every day, is exhausting. If you don’t permit yourself to take a step back, you may begin to burn out. Scheduling short breaks throughout your day can help you stay productive without getting overwhelmed.

It can be tough to take breaks when things are hectic. That’s where your online calendar comes in: If it never seems like a good time to take a break, schedule one every few hours. Your calendar can be set to remind you 10 minutes before it’s time, letting you wrap up what you’re working on.

2. Take a Mental Health Day

Frequent breaks throughout the day are helpful, but sometimes you need a full day to yourself. Although it’s best to schedule mental health days for weekends, don’t be afraid to talk with your employer if you need one stat.

Once you’ve decided on the right day, add it to your calendar. Either put together an itinerary for yourself — replete with food and fun activities — or give yourself an unstructured day. There’s no wrong way to do it!

3. Remind You to Move

Regular exercise is tightly correlated with better mental health. Physical activity feels good, takes your mind off your stressors, and gives you something to do with friends.

Why not use your online calendar to put together a workout schedule? That way, you don’t have to decide at the moment whether or not you want to work out — and if so, what exercises you’ll do. After a few days, physical activity will be just another part of your daily routine.

If you’d rather attend fitness classes or play a team sport, your online calendar is also a great place to record those sessions. Add other attendees to the event to create some positive social pressure.

4. Set and Achieve Goals

Setting goals gives us something to work toward, and achieving them provides a sense of fulfillment. That’s why many experts recommend goal-setting for both mental wellbeing and productivity.

Goals should be:

  • Specific: What, exactly, do you want to achieve? Instead of becoming happier, maybe you want to have five low-stress days each week.
  • Measurable: If your goals aren’t measurable, you’ll never know whether or not you’ve met them.
  • Achievable: There’s no sense in setting a goal you have no hope of achieving. Shoot too high, and you’ll only discourage yourself.
  • Relevant: If your priority is your mental health, your goal shouldn’t be to get a promotion. Do you really need more responsibilities at work right now?
  • Time-bounded: A goal without a time horizon attached is just a hope. When is a challenging but realistic amount of time for achieving your goal?5. Schedule Affirmations

Self-affirmations are mantras designed to encourage during moments of hardship. They take little time to say but can deliver big mental health benefits.

Even something short, such as “I won’t give up,” can do wonders when you’re feeling down. Repeat them as often as needed. If you worry about others judging you for talking to yourself, step into a private space.

5. Start a Journal

Sometimes, a little self-reflection is all it takes to get yourself to a better mental state. Remind yourself that if you’re looking for reasons to be sad, you’ll find them. Looking for the good instead can help you see things from a more positive perspective.

Journaling doesn’t take hours to work its magic. Start with a five-minute session: Add a reminder to your calendar to reflect on something that makes you happy. Soon, you’ll be reminding yourself to save your gratitude journaling for the time slot you selected.

6. Eat Well

The food we eat directly affects our emotional state. Eating a healthy, balanced diet ensures our brain has the nutrition it needs to be at its best.

Online calendars are ideal tools for meal planning. Mapping out what you’re going to eat makes it easier to stick to a diet or, perhaps, more importantly, limit the unhealthy foods you spoil yourself with.

7. Get Into a Groove

Adding structure to your life helps you feel in control. While scheduling every minute of your day isn’t always necessary, using your calendar to establish a healthy routine is critical. Moving forward with your routine can give you a sense of optimism even when the odds are stacked against you.

A good place to start is a morning routine: What do you need to be your happiest, most productive self at work? Routines are also important for other times of day, such as bedtime: How do you prefer to wind down, especially when you have a lot on your mind?

You have to make your mental health a priority because no one else will. Think through what you need to take care of yourself, and use your online calendar to make it happen. Remind yourself — as often and in as many ways as you can — that you deserve to be happy.

Image Credit: Riccardo; Pexels; Thanks!

How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health was originally published on Calendar by Abby Miller.

Sharpen Your Calendar Skills to Increase Productivity on Social Media

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Make Your Webinars More Conversational

Productivity on social media is not as difficult to achieve as one might be led to believe, and can be done in a few simple steps. Doom-scrolling, on the other hand, is the last thing anyone wants to waste time on, as this is a task that does not provide any productivity value. This‌ ‌is‌ ‌particularly the case if you are unsure which of those tasks actually produces‌ ‌results. After all, time is too precious to waste on useless‌ ‌tasks.

And, this is especially true when it comes to social media. After all, the average daily social media usage is 2 hours and 27 minutes.

Like most of you, I have limited time to spend on social media each day. ‌As a result, I’ve got to use that time wisely. ‌This means figuring out which social media tasks produce results and how to do them most efficiently.

Although ‌it sounds easy, being more productive on social media has taken a lot of trial and error. ‌The best thing I’ve found is to sharpen your calendar skills.

Set goals and understand why you use social media.

How can you practice ‌more‌ ‌productivity ‌on‌ ‌social‌ ‌media? ‌First, understand why you’re using those channels.

In other words, you shouldn’t just scroll through a feed of updates when you log into Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. ‌Instead, it should serve a single‌ ‌purpose. If you’re unsure, you could ask the following questions:

  • Would you like‌ ‌to‌ ‌gain‌ ‌followers?
  • Do you wish‌ ‌to‌ ‌increase‌‌ ‌‌brand‌‌ ‌‌awareness?
  • Are you seeking‌ ‌referrals‌ ‌or‌ ‌connections?
  • Are you interested in sharing‌ ‌resources‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌followers?
  • Do you want‌ ‌to‌ ‌drive‌ ‌traffic‌ ‌and‌ ‌leads?

Aim for greater productivity on social media:

To reach your own social media productivity success, you may find that you need a mix of platforms and goals. ‌Having multiple channels might serve different purposes. ‌First, make sure you are clear about the results you want.

There are so many ways to break down a business goal once it’s clarified, such as:

  • Decide on an overall goal. ‌Maybe it’s to reach more ideal clients and to increase‌ ‌sales.
  • Assess how you’ll measure the result. Then, find out how you will know if you have met your‌ ‌goal. ‌For‌ ‌instance,‌ ‌grow‌ ‌your Instagram followers by 10% by the end of the quarter.
  • Break‌ ‌down your specific goals into action steps. Then, you need to do what it takes to achieve it. Maybe it’s posting five days a week or running a poll.

Make sure your actions match up with your goals. ‌‌‌Taking time-sensitive approaches will also keep you from getting overwhelmed.

And most importantly? Add your social media goals to your calendar. You’ll be less likely to give up on them when you do.

Always batch.

Task batching allows you to take all of your tasks for the day and very carefully and methodically determine similar and repetitive actions performed within each task,” explains Calendar’s Angela Ruth. “In short, you’ll be ‘reverse-engineering’ each task you have on your list and coming up with the most efficient combinations of activities.”

It might take a while to get started. ‌But it’s worth it. ‌After all, batching will save you brainpower ‌throughout‌ ‌the day. ‌And, when your mind is sharper, you’ll be have increased productivity on social media.

Yet, that is only‌ ‌scratching‌ ‌the‌ ‌surface. Batching also simplifies tasks and reduces transition time. ‌Instead of multitasking, you concentrate‌ ‌on‌ ‌just‌ ‌one‌ ‌task‌ ‌at‌ ‌a‌ ‌time. ‌As‌ ‌a result,‌ ‌there is no time wasted in transitions.

Using batching will help you avoid forgetting important tasks. ‌This can include social media postings or blog posts.

I should add that there are a variety of ways you can save time when it comes to social media by batching.

  • Think of‌ ‌post‌ ‌ideas‌ ‌all‌ ‌at‌ ‌once. ‌The goal is to accumulate a wealth of social media post ideas you can refer to as needed.
  • Regularly schedule posts. ‌You’ll save a lot of time if you schedule all your posts at the beginning of each week or month. ‌Then, you can adjust your schedule throughout the week or month if something special arises.
  • Engage in social media only during designated‌ ‌times. ‌Check and respond to critical social media posts and messages once or twice a day. If you don’t want to get sucked in, set a timer for 10-15 minutes. ‌It’s amazing what you can do when you set strict limits.

Choose your distractions.

Social media is inherently distracting. ‌Staying connected and being available are some reasons, according to one study. Also, avoiding a task can play a role.

Social media was ranked fourth on Atlassian’s list of main workplace distractions. ‌So you will inevitably be distracted by social media tasks.

As a result of distractions taking over our day, we are less productive. But, at the same time, navigating distractions can be a challenge. So, what can you do?

Well, utilize your calendar.

To be more productive on social media, put batching on your schedule, for example. That’s what I do every Monday. From 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., I schedule all my posts for the week. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I turn off social media notifications until I’m scheduled to check them. Do this after lunch and right before I’m done work for the day.

Also, plan for distractions as well. ‌Unfortunately, there is no way‌ ‌to‌ ‌prepare ‌for‌ ‌every‌ ‌distraction. ‌However, you can schedule a buffer time to ‌accommodate‌ ‌them.

Create a content calendar.

“A content calendar is simply a planner, spreadsheet, or calendar that details the content you’ll be publishing for weeks or months in advance,” Abby Miller writes in a previous Calendar article. “This not only gives you a quick overview of your content schedule, it can also be shared with your team so that they’re aware of deadlines and project details.”

“Content calendars will help you stay on top of content creation schedules, generate new ideas, and encourage team collaboration,” Abby adds. ‌Furthermore, a content calendar helps ensure accountability, utilize different formats, and identify the type of content your target audience responds to the most.

Don’t worry if you haven’t created a content calendar before. Here’s how to get started:

  • Brainstorm content ideas. ‌Topics should fit your brand persona, address concerns or questions your audience has and establish your authority in the‌ ‌industry.
  • Determine your publication channels and frequency. You can use social media channels to promote content, build brand awareness, and engage‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌audience. “The frequency changes between channels as such; Facebook no more than twice a day, Twitter 3 times daily, LinkedIn once per day, Instagram 1.5 times daily, and Pinterest 5 times daily,” she adds.
  • Use a spreadsheet and calendar to map everything out. You should include details like publication date, title, content description, and where it’s going.
  • Define the workflow. As a part of your content strategy, this should include overall goals, editorial guide, best practices, and assigned responsibilities.
  • Schedule, publish, promote, track, and tweak your content. Review your analytics so that you can make proper adjustments.

Put the right tools to work.

One of the best ways to increase your productivity? You’ve got to use the right tools. ‌For example, you can use a digital calendar to manage your time. It’s also handy if you want to track your time and plan‌ ‌meetings.

Moreover, you can take your productivity to new heights when paired with project management software, video conferencing apps, and social media.

As‌ ‌far as productivity on social media goes, specific tools can help you get more done. It’s all about choosing the right tools for the job, though.

There‌ ‌are‌ ‌several tools available to you that can help you accomplish the following:

  • Schedule your social media posts ahead of time.
  • Become a better listener and responder.
  • Keep track of the metrics you chose when selecting your goals for social media.
  • Analyze your social media metrics to improve ‌productivity‌ ‌and‌ ‌results.

However, it’s important not to get distracted by every new shiny tool you see. Instead, find out what works best for you, your goals, and your process by reading reviews, using free trials, and testing tools.

De-stress.

Stress can cause shallow breathing, whether at work or elsewhere. ‌Therefore, the brain receives less oxygen, making you even more stressed and unable to think clearly.

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed on social media will make you less productive. According to the American Institute of Stress, an estimated $300 billion is spent annually by U.S. industries due to stress.

Develop a daily productivity checklist of your social media activities to reduce stress and overwhelm. ‌Plan it based on your goals and the tasks you need to accomplish daily or weekly.

Also, you may want to add activities that can help you de-stress to your calendar as well. For example, you could go for a walk after lunch before diving back into your social channels. You could also carve out time for self-care and ‌pursuits that you enjoy doing.

Efficiency is built on templates.

It is unquestionably true that templates are incredibly useful today. An example is calendar templates. Why? Because they’re real-time-savers.

Make it easier on yourself by using a pre-made calendar instead of making a new one every time. ‌Just fill in the blanks, and you’re set. Calendar template examples include tracking the progress of goals, a to-do-list checklist, or a social media content calendar.

Moreover, you can create templates specifically for your social media efforts. For example, you can use successful headline templates rather than coming up with new headlines each time you create a new social media post idea. For example, “X Ways To Do X.”

Another idea? ‌Take advantage of Canva’s social media templates. You can even use templates for social media posts. Again, I’d head over to Buffer for more info on how to create a social media report.

Block out time to check your metrics.

Determining how you’ll measure your success with social media is essential.

Consider scheduling a weekly or twice-weekly review. And, consider recording your key metrics on your calendar. ‌These‌ ‌might be follower counts,‌ ‌views,‌ ‌comments,‌ ‌likes,‌ ‌and‌ ‌shares.

The reason? ‌Monitoring your metrics regularly will help you see patterns emerge. Additionally, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what to post, when‌ ‌to‌ ‌post,‌ ‌and‌ ‌how‌ ‌to‌ ‌engage‌ ‌with‌ ‌your followers. For example, let’s say you’ve been posting daily at 7:30 every morning. After a month, however, you ‌discover that your posts have more engagement at 4:30 p.m. As a consequence, you begin scheduling content at that time.

Whatever metrics or feedback you choose to use, tracking your progress will allow you to see progress‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌channels‌ ‌over‌ ‌time. ‌As a result, you will be able to adjust as required to become productive‌ ‌on‌ ‌social‌ ‌media.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

Sharpen Your Calendar Skills to Be Productive on Social Media was originally published on Calendar by .

How to Politely Share Your Scheduling Link on Calendar

By | Scheduling | No Comments
scheduling link

Meetings that are unproductive and poorly managed claim endless hours of our time. ‌What I believe is even worse is the valuable time wasted using emails, texting — and worse calling, going back and forth. ‌After‌ ‌all,‌ ‌on average, a meeting is scheduled after eight emails, according to studies. But there are ways to politely share your scheduling link on Calendar.

Share Your Scheduling Link on Calendar

Thankfully, a scheduling link can solve this problem. ‌If you’re not familiar, this is an instant communication method that establishes real-time connections between people or a URL. ‌As a result, you will stop email ping pong, avoid scheduling conflicts, eliminate arduous work, and simplify‌ ‌your‌ ‌meeting‌ ‌workflow.

However, if you want to effectively share your scheduling link on Calendar, you need to do so politely. And here’s how you can accomplish just that.

Share when it is appropriate.

Let’s say you’re at your favorite coffee shop catching up on some work. Eventually, you strike up a conversation with a fellow patron. And, since you’ve hit it off, you decide to keep the conversation going by exchanging contact information.

It doesn’t matter if this is a potential romantic relationship or a new business ‌connection. It would undoubtedly be pretentious if your first message included your calendar link. However, it is a relatively clear indication that you are a significant person.

Instead, just get their contact information and nurture the relationship organically. Then, in the following correspondence, ask them if they have a calendar link they would like to share. If not, then suggest sharing your calendar link with them. If that doesn’t fly, ask them when they’re available.

Additionally, ‌disclosing “your schedule and routine to a stranger gives them information about your life that they could use against you,” says Max Palmer in a previous Calendar article. “Keep your sensitive calendar information to yourself.”

But, this isn’t the only time that it’s inappropriate to share a calendar link. For example, planning a surprise party or a brief 10-minute call probably doesn’t require scheduling links.

Open the door for them.

Traditionally, we were taught to open the door for others before ourselves. And we can definitely apply that to our Calendar availability as well.

Rather than just sending over your Calendar link and saying, “Here’s my calendar link,” you can “open the door” for someone else first. How? By asking for their availability.

You can then offer them your Calendar link after they have walked through the door. If you need a script to follow, try something like, “I would appreciate it if you could let me know when you’re available. Or, if it’s more convenient, you can ‌choose a time off my Calendar.”

It may not seem like much. ‌However, we observe a variety of seemingly little gestures, such as silencing your phone in a‌ ‌movie‌ ‌theater. Julianna Margulies perfectly put it, “Small gestures can have a big impact.”

Create priorities.

Kelly‌ ‌Nolan,‌ ‌a‌ ‌time-management‌ ‌strategist,‌ ‌uses three different links in her Calendar for various purposes: client meetings, casual coffee dates or networking events, and ‌team‌ ‌meetings. ‌In addition, she gives enthusiastic support to auto-scheduling for unexpected‌ ‌reasons.

“You set end times,” Nolan told Bloomberg. ‌For example, schedulers can set up time slots of up to 30 minutes, preventing attendees from ignoring the out-of-time cues when a meeting is over. ‌Additionally, most programs she uses to protect her clients’ time are better than what they can manage independently.

“Many of us have that people-pleaser tendency to say ‘Well, okay, I’ll just make that inconvenient time work,’ which removes that propensity,” she said.

To avoid negative messaging, Nolan shares her calendar link and a note that says: ‌If any‌ ‌of‌ ‌my‌ ‌upcoming‌ ‌appointments‌ ‌aren’t convenient for you, please ‌‌let‌‌ ‌‌me‌‌ ‌‌know.

“It’s a signal that I’m willing to work with certain people beyond my calendar tool,” Kelly said.

Establish a friendly‌ ‌tone.

When inviting people to use your Calendar, pay attention to your wording. ‌While you want to be direct, you don’t want to be too brash or disrespectful of their time. Instead, ‌emphasize the convenience of using a calendar link, like no longer playing the back-and-forth game.

For example, you could say, “Whenever you’re ready, here’s my scheduling link on Calendar, so you can select a time that works best for you. I look‌ ‌forward‌ ‌to speaking‌ ‌with‌ ‌you soon.”

Timing is everything.

Timing is everything when sharing‌ ‌your‌ ‌Calendar. ‌It’s best not to share your calendar link until it’s too late. At the same time, you don’t want to share it until the very ‌last‌ ‌minute. ‌It is essential to strike‌ ‌a‌ ‌balance.

You should share your Calendar 24-48 hours before you depart with your family and assistant, for example, if you plan a trip. For example, if you need a team meeting on Thursday, sending a scheduling link on Tuesday is cutting it way too close.

In short, you should factor in urgency and deadlines before sharing your Calendar so that it is shared at the appropriate‌ ‌time.

Moreover, be mindful of business hours, time zones, and holidays. For example, if you’re on the east coast and want to have a virtual meeting with a colleague who lives on the west coast, don’t suggest a 9 am EST meeting time. Instead, you’re asking them to jump on this video call at 6 am.

Be flexible.

Even if the other person’s schedule does not align with what you have available on your Calendar, be open to accommodating their needs. For instance, “Could you share a convenient time for a meeting, or could you choose from my calendar if you prefer?”

Note that you don’t say that blocking out your time is only possible by using your calendar link. I often use this as a starting point, however.

Choose a compatible calendar.

Tech can be a little thorny sometimes. ‌For example, even though it’s possible to switch between Apple, Google, or Microsoft, that can be confusing. What’s more, it’s not always convenient if you’re sharing a Google Calendar link with a group that primarily uses Apple Calendar.

Generally, you should ensure that your Calendar can be accessed from‌ ‌multiple‌ ‌platforms. ‌This way, there is no syncing or sharing process to worry about. And, it’s convenient and doesn’t require the other invitees to install a new app or learn how it functions.

Follow the Goldilocks Rule.

“Certainly, privacy could be an issue for successful calendar sharing,” writes Kayla Sloan in an article for Calendar. “But many people merge work and personal calendars without issue.”

Most online calendars and apps “have settings that let you make some entries private and others shared.” ‌Unfortunately,‌ ‌those settings prevent others from being able to see sensitive information.

“However, not all calendars have the same capabilities,” adds Sloan. “Therefore, you can permit everyone to see personal appointments, make entries vague, or not put them on work calendars.”

When adding event details to a shared calendar, strike a balance. ‌Date, time, and location should be listed at the very least. It’s also a brilliant idea to include who will attend.

With attachments containing agendas and locations, they can obtain directions on their phones without giving too much information.

Also, avoid being ‌vague. ‌Do‌ ‌not‌ ‌just schedule the afternoon for “meetings.” Make sure everyone has the information they need in advance.

Don’t ghost anyone.

In other words, if you receive a calendar link, don’t leave the sender high and dry.

I’ve sent calendar invitations to someone who never replied in the past. Maybe because they knew about the invite and assumed that I anticipated their attendance. But, it’s still a pet peeve of mine.

You only have to click a button to confirm. Also, it’s nice to let others know you’re coming. ‌Additionally, you will receive updates, such as cancellations. ‌One invitation allows for more efficiency than multiple invitations.

And hopefully, because you responded, others will reciprocate when you share your scheduling link in the future.

Email embedding.

You might consider embedding your calendar link in your email body. ‌Why? There are fewer clicks involved than on your website. In turn, it’s more courteous since saving other time when scheduling.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Politely Share Your Scheduling Link on Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

12 Happiness Hacks to Add to Your Calendar

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12 Happiness Hacks Add Calendar

What is happiness? Is it a feeling? Or, is it a state of being?

The exact definition of happiness has been debated and evolved throughout history. But, regardless of what it is, there’s no denying that happiness plays a pivotal role in our daily lives.

For starters, happiness is important to our physical health. Why? Because it reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, and is linked to better heart health. Additionally, happiness improves relationships and sparks creativity. And, at work, happiness increases productivity.

In short, happiness can change your life for the better. But, how can you raise your happiness levels on a consistent basis? Well, here are 12 happiness hacks that you can practice daily after being placed in your calendar.

1. Start your morning on your own terms.

Michelle Was traveled to all 50 states in 2019 to understand how Americans achieve inner happiness whatever their circumstances. The American Happiness documentary chronicled her journey and learnings while interviewing more than 500 self-described happy people.

She discovered that the happiest people start their days on their own terms.

Starting your morning on a positive note is one of the most impactful things you can do to develop day-to-day happiness,” she wrote for Fast Company. “This doesn’t require hours of your time, but it has the power to transform your day.”

“Instead of immediately rushing into the day or grabbing your phone to scroll through social media, take a minute to yourself without any distractions to set intentions for the hours ahead,” she adds. “What do you want to achieve, how do you want to achieve it, and with what attitude?”

Choose your reactions to situations deliberately rather than constantly being reactive. By doing this exercise, you become more present and intentional with your actions, Wax explains.

2. Reflect on the good and bad.

“Acknowledging the complexity of life may be an especially fruitful path to psychological well-being,” states psychologist Jonathan Adler of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. In other words, a range of positive and negative emotions can contribute to happiness, he believes.

Adler and his colleague Hal Hershfield examined this experience of mixed emotions and how it relates to positive psychological wellbeing. The participants filled out questionnaires before each of the 12 weekly therapy sessions that they went through. They found that feeling dejected and cheerful at the same time preceded improved mental health.

As an example, someone could say, “I feel sad because of the recent losses in my life, yet I am also happy and encouraged to be working through them for a positive outcome.” Adler explained, “Taking the good and the bad together may detoxify the bad experiences, allowing you to make meaning out of them in a way that supports psychological well-being.”

In a follow-up study, Hershfield examined the link between mixed emotions and health. During a 10-year study, he and his team discovered that accepting mixed emotions (like “taking the good with the bad”) is directly linked to good physical health.

What does this all mean? Well, don’t ignore your negative feelings. Block out time to acknowledge and embrace them, like writing in a journal in the morning or evening. When you do, you’ll be able to find ways to overcome whatever obstacles you must overcome.

3. Tackle your hardest task first.

As the founder of Inner Mammal Institute and author of “Habits of a Happy Brain,” Loretta Graziano Breuning asserts that humans can rewire their brains.

How? By recognizing that we possess certain “happy chemicals” inherited from earlier species, and using that knowledge to develop habits that activate them, explains Catherine Pearson for the Huffington Post.

Dopamine is one of these chemicals which Breuning describes as “a sense of accomplishment.” To stimulate it, you should tackle your most difficult task first thing in the morning.

An example would be returning an email you’ve been putting off or completing a task with a deadline. To make sure that tackle these items before anything, add them to your calendar. And, ideally, you should block out times for these when you’re most alert and energetic. For most of us, that would be in the morning.

4. Be a social butterfly.

Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert, the author of the widely read humorous book “Stumbling on Happiness,” says;

We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.

Among these happiness hacks, this is probably the simplest. Additionally, it’s the one that arguably gives the most. After all, who else could make you as happy as your family or friends?

With that in mind, you can use your calendar to stay close to your nearest and dearest. For instance, you could schedule get-togethers, set reminders for check-ins, or establish traditions. And, you could also make sure to block off your calendar when you have quality time scheduled, like when eating dinner with your family.

5. Move 11-minutes per day.

Put aside the excuse that you do not have time for exercise. An 11-minute bout of moderate exercise can boost your lifespan, according to a recent study. Furthermore, physical activity is proven to boost your mood and increase your energy levels.

Exercise can be as simple as taking a walk or using the treadmill. Yoga, dance, or a combination of squats, push-ups, and running in place would also be great options as well.

So, even if you have a packed schedule, you should be able to squeeze in a little bit of physical activity. Personally, I always go for a walk after lunch. Besides burning off some calories, it clears my mind. and recharges me for the rest of the day.

6. Spend more time outdoors.

As Shawn Achor, who has lectured at Harvard University and Wharton School of Business, says in his book, “The Happiness Advantage.” spending 20 minutes outside in nice weather can improve your mood. It can also broaden thinking and help improve working memory.

Multiple studies have confirmed this claim from Achor. Cornell University researchers found that spending at least 10 minutes a day in natural spaces, such as parks or walking trails, improved students’ mood, focus, and physiological markers such as blood pressure and heart rate. The authors of this study believe that “nature therapy” could help patients who are anxious, stressed, or depressed.

7. Take microbreaks.

It’s been found that watching funny videos online during a quick break during work has high emotional payoffs and makes people feel more energetic, happy, and less stressed, says Allison Mango.

In addition to improving your mental health, this is also extremely easy to do if you are in a bad mood. And, you’ll also boost your metabolism while you’re at it.

8. Focus on your favorite song.

Researchers have found that happy music can improve your mood and increase your awareness when you practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to one of your favorite songs over and over again, focusing on a different layer each time, such as the solo, harmonies, guitar, bass, and so on,” said Dr. Chandan Khandai, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “Not only will your favorite song bring a lot of joy, it will also cultivate mindfulness as you listen to a particular part and filter out the others.”

9. No matter how stressful it is, learn something new.

Can learning a new skill be stressful? Absolutely. But, in the long run, this can increase your happiness. In fact, you will be happier every hour, every day, and over the long haul.

The Journal of Happiness Studies published a study in 2009 detailing the benefits of this investment in time and effort. According to the study, participants who engaged in activities that enhanced their competency met their autonomy need or helped them cultivate relationships with others reported less happiness at the moment. However, they eventually experienced increased happiness each hour and every day.

The key? Choosing the right new skill to master. Or, one that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Happiness is increased most when you learn a skill you choose rather than one you believe you should or are required to learn.

10. Limit your screen time.

12 hours and 9 minutes.

That’s how much time Americans spent with media in 2019. Per day. It was forecasted that this amount would increase by another four minutes even before COVID-19.

Is this a problem? Yep.

You can feel anxious or depressed when you spend too much time on your phone. This can also disrupt your sleep. It can also negatively impact your performance at work.

But, research has found that cutting back on screen time results in;

  • 75% of people believe that they get more done and are more productive.
  • 57% stated that they’re motivated to do their best.
  • 51% feel more confident.
  • 49% reported that they’re happier.
  • 44% claim that they deliver higher quality work.

Nevertheless, distancing yourself from your phone and computer is not easy. Listed below are a couple of easy ways to start;

  • Organize your tasks in batches. Stay connected and avoid FOMO by blocking out a time in the morning, afternoon, or early evening for email and social media. During the times when you are not doing this, turn off your notifications or set up apps to block them.
  • Establish tech-free zones. Your bedroom, bathroom, and eating areas should be free from electronics.
  • Find ways to distract yourself. Take a walk, clean your house, or read when you’re bored.
  • Delate social media apps. Social media can be harmful and addictive. Logging in on your PC/laptop and batching these tasks can be useful for branding or networking.
  • Meet in person or pick up the phone. When feasible, arrange more in-person meetings or catch-ups. Or, make a phone call instead of using chat or email threads if necessary.
  • Leave your phone behind. When you go for a walk or grocery shopping, don’t take your phone with you. Don’t worry. The world will keep spinning if you disconnect for a couple of minutes.

11. Help others.

Buying things for ourselves boosts happiness less than spending money on other people. This is what’s known as “prosocial spending.”

In 2012, Harvard researchers gave away money to study participants. In one-half of the cases, they were asked to spend the money on themselves, and in the other half, on others.

Here are the results;

“Participants assigned to recall a purchase made for someone else reported feeling significantly happier immediately after this recollection; most importantly, the happier participants felt, the more likely they were to choose to spend a windfall on someone else in the near future. Thus, by providing initial evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and well-being, these data offer one potential path to sustainable happiness: prosocial spending increases happiness which in turn encourages prosocial spending.”

Giving to others does not always mean spending money. You can also donate your time through volunteering or mentoring othersThere is a study out of Zurich, Switzerland which supports the idea that volunteering can lead to greater life satisfaction.

How much time should you dedicate to helping others? Well, according to Adam Grant’s book “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success,” 100 hours per year — or 2 hours per week.

12. Be flexible.

Todd Kashdan, a professor of psychology at George Mason University and an expert on wellbeing, says;

“Human beings have the potential to tolerate better and effectively use emotions, thoughts, and behavior to extract the best possible outcomes in varying situations. This wide range of dynamic abilities forms the essence of health.”

After all, a healthy person is someone who can manage themselves in the uncertain, unpredictable world around them, where novelty and change are the norm rather than the exception.”

Believe it or not, your calendar can assist with this. How? By leaving free blocks of time in your schedule. This way you can shuffle your day around in case you have to address an emergency or overcome procrastination.

12 Happiness Hacks to Add to Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

Share Your Availability on Calendar for All Occasions

By | Time Management | No Comments
share your availability

Connecting and sharing your availability on your Calendar with others is a pro-social behavior. This is due to the fact that “sharing is caring;” a phrase trademarked by the Salvation Army in 1950 — and for a good reason. Sharing, after all, builds trust, invokes gratitude, and increases feelings of well-being due to the release of oxytocin, which is the “feel-good hormone.” Medical News Today says that oxytocin is released with “pro-social behaviors.”

For example, this past Sunday, I went to my niece’s birthday. Her brother stole a toy that she was playing with at one point. I instinctively blurted out, “sharing is caring.” Since he’s just a little guy, he gave me a perplexed look before replying, “Huh? What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But, when you think of sharing, what springs to mind? Is your type of sharing allowing someone to sample the meal you ordered? Do you share by donating to your favorite cause? There are many ways to communicate with each other pro-socially that relieves stress and brings trust.

Through all of the sharing experiences you experience daily, have you ever shared your Calendar? There are fantastic ways to share your Calendar and some ways that are not as effective.

The Benefits of Sharing Your Availability on Calendar

Have you opened your inbox with a message from someone requesting your presence at an event? Whether your email is from a co-worker, client, or friend from college — their famous last words in the text message usually say, “Let me know your availability.”

What follows next is a series of unfortunate events in the form of the “back-and-forth” emails.

You reply, “Hey, Wednesday at 2 p.m. works for me!” Unfortunately, they respond with, “Sorry. I’m not free at that time. What about next Monday at 10 a.m.?”

The next thing you know, you have a long email thread with no resolution in sight. But, ultimately, you’ve spent days trying to pinpoint a day and time for a brief 15-minute video call. Heck, 40% of workers spend 30 minutes just looking for a collaborative space where they can meet and get caught up on work. Statistics show that the average worker spends one hour and nine minutes preparing for these meetings to collaborate, and that’s just to get the meeting scheduled.

But, things can be worse. What if you’ve booked an appointment only to be horrified that you’re unavailable? This scenario is one of the more embarrassing moments — and includes the obligatory asking someone to reschedule a meeting after you’ve already agreed to it.

As you’ve guessed, there’s a straightforward solution here — and that quick fix is sharing your Calendar.

Besides keeping your inbox in check, sharing your availability on Calendar has other benefits.

  • Improved communication and efficiency make planning a snap.
  • It eliminates the back and forth and protects everyone’s valuable time. Everyone can focus on their priorities instead of planning — and extra planning.
  • If you have a Team Calendar, you can view everyone’s availability to balance assignments. More about the Team Calendar below.
  • A shared calendar can keep both your personal and professional lives organized and conflict-free.

How Do You Share Your Availability on Calendar?

With most digital calendars or apps, sharing your availability is as painless as it gets.

Calendar searches your connected calendars to find all available times to schedule a meeting. You can customize the options by removing or adding meeting times and choosing the meeting length. Additionally, you can enter a physical address, a phone number, or a Zoom link to indicate a meeting location.

Your availability can be emailed to meeting attendees once you have set your preferences. Calendar notifies meeting attendees and puts the meeting on your Calendar as soon as they click on a time.

With these intelligent, customizable scheduling links, people can schedule meetings with you in seconds and avoid double bookings. Calendar uses machine learning instead of human judgment to suggest how your next meeting should be scheduled, where it should take place, and who to invite.

Your Calendar sharing adjusts for time zones, meaning it handles your availability instead of you having to figure timeframes when traveling or scheduling meetings.

Lastly, Calendar can integrate with your Apple, Google, and Office 365 calendars so you can view your life in real-time.

When Should You Use Calendar Links?

Sharing your availability can come in handy for the following situations;

  • Team schedules
  • Sales meetings
  • Networking opportunities
  • Follow-up meetings
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Sprint reviews
  • Introductory calls
  • Check-ins
  • Coordinating your family’s schedule

What’s more, you may want to drop your calendar link on your website so visitors can see your availability without asking for details.

The Calendar app is also beneficial for those in industries where appointments are a necessity, like doctor appointments or your hairstylists.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Sharing Your Availability on Calendar

Are you ready to share your availability on Calendar? Here are some pointers to keep in mind before sharing your Calendar.

Choose a calendar that is compatible with multiple platforms.

Sometimes, tech doesn’t like to play nice with each other. Yes, it’s possible to toggle between Apple, Google, or Microsoft, but it can get messy. Calendar can be accessed across multiple platforms, and you don’t have to worry about synching and sharing issues.

Don’t share too much information.

“Certainly, privacy could be an issue for successful calendar sharing,” writes Kayla Sloan in an article for Calendar. “But many people merge work and personal calendars without issue.”

Most online Calendars “have settings that let you make some entries private, and others shared, but not all calendars have the same capabilities,” adds Sloan.

Use customization to your advantage.

Regardless of which calendar tool you use, you can customize your Calendar to fit your specific requirements. The view of a Google Calendar can be changed between week, month, and agenda, for example. As well as changing the colors and title, you can choose which items appear on the screen.

One of the most problematic aspects of some calendars is the Calendar invites subject line. So, be sure to have a clear subject line for each invite so that it looks clean and professional.

Who will you share your Calendar with?

There’s no reason for everyone to access your Calendar unless you wish them to do so — Here’s how you can share your Calendar if you choose to. You’ll typically want to share your Calendar with people like your spouse and the person you’re meeting next.

Some people have a fully open Calendar, meaning anyone can access their Calendar. Consider your shared Calendar. You may wish to have one person at the office over the shared team calendar and only one of your home team over the home-family Calendar.

Add times to the email.

Regardless of the email client you use, allow your invitees to choose a meeting time right from an email. As a preview, your invitee will see the first three-time slots available for each day you selected as buttons. Of course, if those times aren’t convenient, they can always find another time using the included Calendar link.

Keep your Calendar updated regularly.

There will be times when your schedule must change, no matter how organized and prepared you are. For example, you may need to rearrange a meeting in some cases due to an emergency dentist visit. However, the other participants will still arrive at the original meeting time if you didn’t update your Calendar.

You can avoid potential conflicts with the help of Calendar, for instance — because Calendar automatically reschedules canceled meetings.

Avoid making last-minute changes.

What would you think if your day went according to plan and you were notified that a meeting had been moved up an hour or canceled? Of course, these things happen, and you handle them, but you should be respectful of others and avoid last-minute schedule changes. Ideally, if you must make a last-minute schedule change — notify people as soon as you know about it and reschedule as quickly as possible.

Enable timezones.

Because we work with people worldwide, enabling time zones makes sense. In addition, due to the Calendar’s ability to detect time zone differences, you will no longer have to worry about scheduling events at the wrong time.

Don’t over-do-or-under-detail events.

You need to find the right balance regarding how many details you provide in a shared calendar for an upcoming event. However, it is usually sufficient to tell your invitees the date, time, location, and who is attending the meeting at the very least.

A simple way to avoid too many details is to send attachments like the meeting agenda and location so that attendees can get directions on their phones.

Likewise, you don’t want to be too vague. Do not simply block out the afternoon for “meetings.” More information is required so that everyone is prepared.

Set your availability and your inaccessibility.

Calendars are set to display the whole day by default. However, you’re not available 24 hours a day, especially in the morning and evening. It is possible to hide these blocks of time in online calendars, so clutter is avoided — and no one will try to book an event during these blocks of time. Also, blocking out clutter and unavailable times protects your time and prevents conflicts.

Don’t automatically add invitations.

In the past, spam has invaded Google and other Calendars. However, you can stop Google Calendar from automatically adding invitations you receive to prevent this. To learn how to block spam items added to your Calendar without your permission — take a look at The Verge’s tutorial.

Besides avoiding spam, the tutorial shows how to avert confusion and clutter. For example, it’s impossible to remain organized when items are added to your Calendar without your knowledge or permission.

Install buffers.

A buffer is simply a gap between two events. Say, for instance, a meeting ends at 3:00 p.m., then the next meeting would not be scheduled at the same time. As an alternative, you would take a break of about 30 minutes between each event so that everyone can grab a snack, use the restroom, and recharge before the next event.

More importantly, this prevents the possibility of anyone running late to the event.

Integrate events from other apps.

Additionally, synchronize your shared Calendar with Facebook, Eventbrite, Evernote, Slack, or even your project management software if there are events scheduled there. These tools typically integrate with leading online calendar services. By integrating these events from other apps, you can access all relevant dates in one place and not have to click on additional platforms.

Image Credit: Александар Цветановић; Pexels; Thank you!

Share Your Availability on Calendar for All Occasions was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

How To Track Your New Goals on Your Calendar

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How To Track Goals Calendar

We all know the importance of setting goals. But, when was the last time you actually set a new goal? Even if you did this recently, have you been tracking your progress?

I’m not trying to send out a guilt trip. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of individuals actually follow through. To be more specific, an often-cited figure is that only 8% of people achieve their goals.

Why do a majority of us stumble? Of course, that’s a broad question that will vary from person to person. There is, however, a theory that Mark Murphy, the founder and CEO of LeadershipIQ.com and author of the book “Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,” has.

Throughout his research, Murphy looked at how the brain works and how humans are wired to set goals. Then, he honed the process using that and the law of attraction. And the result was something called challenging goals.

According to Murphy, a HARD goal is achieved. Using Murphy’s principle, we should put our current costs in the future and our future gains in the present. In other words, don’t put things off until tomorrow.

A goal-setting process evolves over time. For example, you will probably have very different goals in your thirties than you will in your fifties.

Whatever your age may be, what matters is that you regularly update your life goals and revisit them. Or, in short, track the new goals that you set. And one of the most effective ways to do that is by using your Calendar.

1. Take stock of your accomplishments.

To set new goals, you must take note of your past achievements. For example, you can update your resume or LinkedIn profile. Other suggestions would be gathering recommendations or taking aptitude or career assessment tests.

If you don’t want to overwhelm yourself, though, you could focus on what you’ve accomplished in the past year by;

  • Looking for emails from particular clients, colleagues, or management. You should try to find one successful email per month.
  • Revisiting your LinkedIn updates, Instagram feed, or other social accounts.
  • Discussing the significant accomplishments in the workplace with coworkers and friends. When you speak with others, you may be able to shed light on some of your own achievements.
  • Take a look at your journal, notebooks, or past calendars.

2. Plan ahead.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

To achieve your goals, you need to plan adequately on how you’ll reach them within a specific timeframe. My schedule is mapped out months in advance — I even know people who plan out their entire year in advance. From there, I decide how and when I will finish each step. This makes it easier for me to track my progress day by day, so I know exactly where I am and what I need to do to reach my goals.

3. Identify the best time for you to evaluate your performance.

You can become better at scheduling and calendaring with a variety of tools. Calendly has been a major player, but now there are a lot of growing Calendly alternatives. If you don’t use the right tools then you won’t be able to manage your time the best so you can improve your performance.

Even if you’re exhausted, never skip rating and evaluating your results of the day. If you do, the opportunity to find gaps that prevent you from achieving your goals might be lost.

4. Visualize the “chain.”

Former software developer Brad Isaac once asked comedian Jerry Seinfeld for advice for a young comedian. Seinfeld told him that he needed to write better jokes to become a better comic. To write better jokes, he had to write every day.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Eventually, the comic revealed his unique calendar system to keep him motivated.

Jerry Seinfeld told Isaac to get a giant wall calendar with the entire year on it — and hang it somewhere easily visible. Then, he told him to get a red magic marker.

Isaac was told that he had to put a big red X on the Calendar for each day he wrote. “After a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it, and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is not to break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” Seinfeld reiterated.

Isaac says this strategy “works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go — it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary results.” And these habits are built by daily action.

5. Make weekly goal tracking a priority.

Why track your goals on a weekly basis?

You can get a lot done in a week and make significant progress towards your goals. However, it’s short enough that you can adjust your actions if you veer off course. Besides flexibility, this also helps you break larger goals into more manageable chunks.

You may want to settle on a weekly focus to make this successful. Whether it’s a phrase, a quote, or a poem, you can focus on whatever motivates you for the week. Your weekly focus should be something that inspires you to work toward better goals.

Every week, set aside time to decide what you will focus on. Of course, it would be ideal if you did this before the week began. I’m a big fan of updating and filling in anything that needs to be on the Calendar for the week on Sunday afternoon or evening.

6. Auto-schedule time for your goals.

By planning ahead and dedicating time to your long-term goals, you can take a huge step in accomplishing them. But, here’s the thing. Just because you have these in your Calendar doesn’t mean you get to them if you’re running on fumes.

One of the biggest drains on our energy is making decisions. One way to combat this is to have tasks automatically scheduled for you, so that you don’t waste energy deciding what to do. For example, you could review your to-do list on Sundays while checking in on your goals. Then, if you have open slots, add an item from your to-do list to that time block.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should clutter your Calendar. But, you should leave blank spaces in your Calendar to shuffle things around if there’s an emergency. And, if everything has gone to plan, then you know exactly how to spend this time.

7. Meet with your accountability partner.

There will be times when self-motivation isn’t enough. You may need to call in the calvary if you want to stick to your goals during such times.

When you share your goals with someone else, you essentially sign a contract. If you know someone will check on your progress, making excuses won’t be as likely to derail you. Since there is nothing to share, it feels like you are disappointing them, and disappointing someone is never pleasant. It’s also a good idea to keep track of your goals when someone checks in with you regularly.

In short, you need to find yourself an accountability partner.

Ideally, you want to choose someone you trust and share your goals or have a similar perspective on growth and success. Next, invite them to check in with you. How often? That depends.

You might like a daily check-in by text or email to report on how things went the day before and set goals for the day ahead. Other people prefer longer meetings every week, biweekly or monthly. You might do a mix of long meetings and quick check-ins with some partnerships.

Whatever you and your goal buddy agree on, put that in your Calendar ASAP. This will prevent any calendar conflicts from arising.

8. Set a reward system.

Why do reward systems work? Well, it’s all about dopamine.

As you accomplish something important, your brain begins to spike with dopamine, making you feel a surge of satisfaction. As a result, you become more motivated and productive.

You can benefit from this by rewarding yourself as you chip away at your goals. As your brain connects your hard work with a surge of dopamine, it will eventually become automatic.

How does your Calendar fit into this? Well, you can schedule your rewards. For instance, if you have completed your weekly goals, treat yourself to dinner with friends. Then, during the week, you could set aside 15-minutes time blocks to read, write, go for a walk, or do whatever else you enjoy doing.

9. Schedule time for distractions.

Make no mistake about it — we live in a distracting world where multitasking has become the norm. The era of instant updates and notifications has even made many of us reliant on distraction. And as a result, we often ask ourselves why we aren’t as productive as we should be.

Cal Newport explains it this way in Deep Work, “Once your brain has become accustomed to on-demand distraction, [Clifford Nass] discovered; it’s hard to shake the addiction even when you want to concentrate.”

How does Newport aim to solve this problem? Schedule these distractions.

“Instead of scheduling the occasional break from distraction so you can focus, you should instead schedule the occasional break from focus to give in to distraction.”

I know. Scheduling time for distractions might sound counterproductive. However, taking part in something distracting, like answering emails or posting on social media, will not reduce your ability to concentrate. The constant switch between “low-stimulus, high-value” activities to “high-stimulus, low-value.” According to Newport’s research, boredom is causing atrophy in the muscles needed for concentration.

According to him, we need to adopt an attitude of focus and set aside a portion of our day for distracting activities to reverse the decline. Even though he admits to the potential use of the Internet for constructive purposes, he uses it synonymously with distracting activities.

Schedule in advance when you’ll use the Internet, and then avoid it altogether outside these times,” he explains. “Record the next time you’re allowed to use the Internet. Until you arrive at that time, absolutely no network connectivity is allowed—no matter how tempting.”

10. Calendar it all.

When it comes to setting, achieving, and maintaining repeated goals, consistency is key. So add or schedule five- and ten-minute blocks of time to your Calendar to help yourself out.

How will you fill these blocks? You can use them to journal your accomplishments, make progress toward a specific goal, or meet with your goal buddy. All of these will help you keep track of your goals and help you follow through.

How To Track Your New Goals on Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

Create Focus Time in Office 365 Calendar

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focus time

While meetings are important, they can also prevent you from being able to create focus time. This is because everyone is too busy with excessive meetings. As these events build up, it is important to mark the time that you need on your Office 365 Calendar. Blocking time allows you to focus on what needs to get done before being filled with meetings. On Office 365 Calendar, there is a feature available to block out this focus time for important tasks.

The expansion of remote work means you will be taking care of much of your business through meetings with colleagues and bosses. It is not unusual to receive a “quick” call from a colleague who has a question. Have you ever had that surprise meeting added to your day? These meeting norms mean you need to be proactive in blocking out time so that you will not be disturbed. It is a great way to make sure you get your work done on time. That is why the focus time feature that Microsoft offers is so important.

Benefits of focus time

In jobs that rely on numerous meetings, it is important to make time to do more focused work. Technology allows colleagues and bosses to share calendars to ensure availability for collaboration and meetings. While great for collaboration, it is equally important to make better use of shared calendars to display your own focused time. Users can use the technology to set aside time during the day to do focused work and to block time for breaks.

This helps improve productivity and helps reduce fatigue by ensuring a proper balance of work activities in your day. Consider setting aside focus time as blocks of time during the workweek as needed for high-level thinking tasks. These tasks could include writing, strategizing, analysis, and tackling complex processes.

The focus time feature available in Office 365 Calendar allows you to block this time out to focus on your work. The time scheduled is shared across multiple Microsoft applications, so your Microsoft Office Outlook Calendar displays the time. In addition, your Microsoft Teams app also blocks out time. You can schedule your focus time for those apps using your MyAnalytics tool. These apps and tools are available on Microsoft 365. Here are a few tips on how to create focus time in Office 365 Calendar.

Focus time best practices

Office 365 allows you to automatically book your focus time while also allowing you to protect that time. You can do that by silencing chats on Teams and blocking notifications. It is important for your colleagues to understand what focus time means. Make it clear that this status on your Office 365 apps, like Outlook and Teams, means you should not be disturbed. Make sure you have sufficient focus time blocked during the workweek, and make adjustments to increase or reduce time.

It is also important to eliminate as many distractions as possible during your focus time. For example, if you work from home, you do not want to have the radio or television on. During your focus time, you should also ensure that you put your mobile phone away and turn off your email. The less distractions you have, the more time you have to focus.

Set your focus time

The focus time feature on Office 365 ensures you are not disturbed by others or by notifications from your apps. This can include blocking notifications, such as emails or meeting invites. You can set the focus time either manually or automatically.

If you want to set your focus time manually, you can do so at any time and on any day. To do this, you can simply change your status to “do not disturb” on the Office Calendar or in Teams. Office 365 also allows you to automate the focus scheduling process through the MyAnalytics application included in the suite of applications. Here’s how to use the automatic scheduling function.

MyAnalytics makes focus time easy

First, sign in to your MyAnalytics account. Find “focus” on the vertical menu and click it. You can define your focus period by identifying the amount of focus hours you want to schedule. The wizard will help you schedule this time. Whenever you start using this focus plan, you configure how you will book that time into your calendar. You get to customize your preferences using MyAnalytics, so it will book based on your chosen booking settings. You can choose the amount of hours for focus time you would like to schedule each day. You can also choose whether you prefer your focus time to be in the morning or in the afternoon. And finally, you can decide whether you would like to silence or accept the notifications for chat.

Once you have selected these options, you will get time blocked out on your calendar as focus time. For those focus time blocks on your calendar, your status in Microsoft Teams will display automatically as focusing. This presence status tells others that you should not be disturbed during this time. You can set priority contacts in Teams to ensure that you receive important messages from those select few you choose during focus time.

The focus time is now scheduled on your calendar like any other appointment. The focus time can be canceled or changed just like other calendar appointments. You can simply drag the event to another place on the calendar if you want to change the time. You can also delete the event from the calendar to cancel it.

Use MyAnalytics to Modify Focus Time

One of the advantages of using Office 365 is that it provides numerous applications and resources to make your life easier. When you use MyAnalytics, it can help you create a focus time plan, as noted above. It also allows you to update your plan settings by choosing Plan configuration in the upper right-hand corner of the MyAnalytics Focus dashboard. Then, the Plan Configuration navigation tab will open, where you have the option to modify how many focus hours you want for each day. And, you can update other preferences here as well. After you have created your focus time plan in MyAnalytics, your focus time will show up in your Outlook calendar. During those blocks of focus time on your calendar, your status will display as busy.

Block emails, notifications on a mobile device

Now that you understand how to schedule needed focus time to complete important tasks, you can block other distractions. You may find your focus time works well by blocking part of the day. You can avoid getting disturbed on Teams or with notifications on your computer. But, even after focusing on your computer, you can still be distracted by your phone. You can set your Outlook mobile app to “do not disturb” to stop the mobile distractions, such as emails on your phone.

Focus time on Microsoft Teams

After you create your focus time and it is listed on your calendar, Office 365 provides additional features to help you stay focused. Teams automatically sets your status as “Focusing” and “do not disturb.” That is important because your status in Teams does two important things. First, it tells colleagues who may want to send you a message on Teams that you should not be disturbed. Second, the status stops notifications that otherwise would disturb you. Both of these actions can help you avoid unnecessary distractions.

Teams also provide another feature, just in case your colleagues do not get the hint with your “do not disturb” status. You can set an automatic message to send in chat if someone attempts to contact you during your focus time. To create a status message in Teams that automatically displays when someone tries to message you during focus time, go to the Teams app. At your profile picture at the top of Teams, select “set status message” to view your options. Type the message that you want others to see in the box. Then, select “show when people message me” to have the message display automatically when someone messages or mentions you in Teams.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thanks!

Create Focus Time in Office 365 Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

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