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How Entrepreneurs Can Clean Up Their Calendars

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How Entrepreneurs Can Clean Up Their Calendars

Entrepreneurship is one of the most admired aspects of the American dream. Without hardworking men and women with dreams and passions — coupled with astounding drive and work ethics — we wouldn’t have many of the things we enjoy today. Think of your favorite brand and remember that before it became mainstream, it was a lowly startup backed by a bold entrepreneur.

While entrepreneurs are rightly praised for their accomplishments, it can be difficult to be in their shoes. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into entrepreneurship. All that effort can get exhausting. It can also get confusing when calendars are packed end-to-end with meetings and events to keep track of.

Time management is key to entrepreneurial success. Here are six ways active and aspiring entrepreneurs can clean up their online calendars to help them achieve more while stressing less.

1. Implement Color-Coding

Color-coding is a simple organizational system that will bring your calendar to life and keep it better organized. All you need to do is group your tasks together in a way that they can be identified with a single color. Once you get used to this new system, one glance at your day will give you all the information you need. 

For example, you can separate most of your tasks into three main groups, such as team huddles, client meetings, and administrative tasks. Each group will have its own color, like red, yellow, or blue. A stream of yellow for next Wednesday lets you know right away that you have a bunch of client meetings coming up that you need to prepare for.

Once you’ve implemented your color-coding strategy, you’ll begin to think about the tasks you put into your calendar more carefully. More methodical thinking will keep your calendar clean and organized even as you splash it with colors.

2. Batch Tasks Together

Speaking of grouping tasks together, not every single to-do item needs to have a designated space in your schedule. There are many instances where you can batch tasks together to condense your calendar and prevent clutter. 

It would be silly to create a calendar event for every email you plan to send throughout the day. Not only can you schedule a time to do all your emailing, but you can also batch that with other administrative tasks to get them done at the same time. If you don’t want to forget important details, use the notes section of your digital calendar to make to-do lists that accompany your task batches. 

3. Create a Separate Calendar

Many online calendar apps allow you to create multiple calendars to organize your time. With multiple calendars, you can clean up one messy calendar by dividing it up. To ensure double-booking doesn’t occur, keep these calendars synced even if you don’t view them together at the same time. 

One of your calendars can be designated for all your personal affairs. Track birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events, important school dates, and more here, while keeping all of your entrepreneurial activities on a separate calendar. If you really want to go all out, you can create separate calendars for each department of your budding organization. 

4. Learn How to Delegate

One reason entrepreneurs’ lives are so grueling is that their plates get overloaded, especially in the early stages of a startup. Entrepreneurs are product developers, marketers, HR representatives, and salespeople all at the same time. The sooner you can delegate some of these tasks to others, the sooner you can clean up your calendar and clear your head. 

Learning how to delegate is a process. Many entrepreneurs don’t want to let go of their responsibilities because they only trust themselves to get the job done. Just remember that you’ll become more effective as you pass on assignments and focus your attention, and your calendar, on fewer projects. 

5. Make Time for Yourself

Entrepreneurship is often a 24/7 job. Building a business from the ground up isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of time and effort to become one of the few who enjoy long-term success. Prioritizing your mental health and physical wellness will help ensure long-term success by staving off burnout and keeping your mind in top shape.

This is different from just creating a separate calendar for your personal events. You need to intentionally make time for yourself in your calendar. Schedule a date night with your significant other, allot time for exercise, and even schedule some evening hours to read a book. These blocks of time will help with your work-life balance and clear your calendar of unnecessary busywork you continue to pile onto yourself.

6. Lean on Automation

Any task that you can automate can be taken out of your schedule, which leads to a more open calendar. Not only that, but automation will keep your business running even without your constant supervision. You will be able to accomplish more with less effort.

No matter your business model, there is some business task that you can automate. You can add a chatbot to your website to answer frequent customer questions without the need for a human representative 24/7. You can automate email marketing campaigns and sales outreach. Find ways to automate your growing business, and these tasks and others won’t be taking up calendar space any longer. 

While it’s good to fill your time with productive activities, an overstuffed calendar can be counterproductive. Use these tips to clean up your calendar and keep it that way, so you can focus on your performance as an entrepreneur and not your ever-changing schedule. 

Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

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Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

Remember going camping as a kid? Even if it was only a few times growing up, camping trips make for enjoyable summer memories for the whole family. So invite friends and family — and have a blast!

Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

Unfortunately, many people don’t have great memories of camping — but everyone needs to say they’ve camped at least once in their lives. I call it “life lessons and learning.” And, yes, I laugh when I say that. But, whether the former camping trip was boring, got rained on, or someone was eaten alive by mosquitos — some things can get in the way of a good time. Prevent catastrophe from striking your camping trip by organizing your efforts with your Calendar. Here’s how:

Choosing Dates

Hey, you only have about six weeks before the kids are back in school — so get cracking! First things first, you must select the dates of your camping trip in advance. Very rarely will an impromptu trip work out well, especially for larger families and all of their different schedules. However, some of our impromptu trips ended up the best ever —  so don’t discount that possibility.

Using your Calendar allows you to view all of these conflicting schedules and find free days for everyone. Then, once the date is chosen — create a Calendar event and share it with everyone who plans to attend so that they don’t end up booking something for the dates selected.

Remembering to Pack

Nothing is worse than arriving at your location and realizing you forgot to pack something important. Don’t let that happen to you by setting one or several reminders in your online Calendar. I, for one, always have camping specifics in a packed bag so I can just look through the items and make sure they aren’t out of date.

You can set a reminder for virtually anything you think you might forget. For example, a Calendar notification will help you get out the door at the right time. Another event will remind you to make a trip to the store to get all the snacks and supplies you need.

You will also find it useful to set a reminder to make sure you double-check your home, set the lock, turn the camera on, check the auto sprinklers, let the neighbor know to pick up mail. I keep this same list for trips on my Calendar, so I don’t have to write a new list each time we go somewhere. That puts everything in order before leaving town for a few days. I also have a “before you go cleaning list” to not be overwhelmed when I return home.

Planning the Road Trip

The best camping spots are usually a long-distance away. Those drives can get pretty grueling, especially for young kids and big families. Your Calendar will come in handy for planning the upcoming road trip and making it as painless as possible.

Most National Parks have a number you can call and select your date and reserve your spot. You have to be there by a certain time (usually 6:00 PM) or give them a late check-in time. If you aren’t there on time — the park will give away your spot.

Looking for a spot to camp at midnight, especially if you’ve brought a baby along, is not a pretty sight. And sleeping in the car because you lost your camping spot tends to be the memory that sticks with your fam and friends forever.

Thanks to GPS technology, you don’t have to plan your route as extensively as in generations past. However, it may be worth your time to plan some stops along the way. For example, optimize your bathroom and lunch breaks or scope out some roadside attractions that are worth checking out.

Plan these out in advance, and you can make the drive more enjoyable while still making it to your campsite at a reasonable hour.

Creating an Itinerary

Camping is so much more than sleeping in a tent on the hard ground. What makes camping worth it is all the activities you plan throughout the day. Your Calendar will help you create the perfect itinerary to fill your days with plenty of activities.

Do you want to go on a family hike? You want to plan water activities when it’s the warmest and plan everything else around it. We like to take our bikes and have a big long bike trip around the lake early while it’s still cool and then have lake time to cool off around noon or 1:00 PM. You could also check to see if the park rents bikes, paddle boats, or canoes. That way you don’t have to bring your own. But all these types of activities and questions can be answered by making an itinerary for your trip.

There’s also some merit in making time to do nothing but relax and get lost in your surroundings. Feel free to include your personal “away” time on your Calendar as well. Especially if it’s a high priority to you. If you’re an adventurous type, you can also freestyle the trip and see where it takes you.

As a footnote, your Calendar doesn’t always have to be online in order to be helpful. While traveling, you can still access the itinerary in offline mode. Thankfully there are fewer places where you won’t have cell service. But be aware no cell service does occur. Sometimes I take a screenshot of my Calendar so I have it in my photos if cell service is not to be had.

Getting Work Done

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean the work has stopped. If you’re taking a weekday trip, you’ll need to ask for time off and might need to get some extra work done before you embark. Even a weekend outing can be a little stressful if you get home late Sunday night and need to get things ready to go to the office the following morning.

This is the perfect opportunity to use your Calendar for what it does best; time management. Leading up to your trip, try using time blocking or experiment with the Pomodoro Technique to get as much work done as possible so that you can take a camping trip without stressing about missing work.

Your Calendar will help you make a seamless return as well. You can organize all of your meetings and deadlines ahead of time to arrange your entire schedule before you even leave for your trip. Then, once you make it back home, all you have to do is check your Calendar for everything that needs to be done next.

Recording Memories

Just as was mentioned from the start, the goal of a camping trip is to have fun and make memories. Therefore, every event and note you add to your Calendar will serve as a reminder of the fun you had even long after the trip has finished.

You can also use your online Calendar to plan out a scrapbook or photo album of all the camping trips you ever take. This is a more visual and organized way to preserve memories for a very long time.

You can have a lot of fun roughing it if you come prepared. Before you leave to come home from a trip (camping or otherwise), get everyone to share photos from your phones. I put a reminder in my Calendar because sharing photos has become such a staple of our adventures and the highlight of our trips now.

How to Use Appointments to Improve Your Decision-Making

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How to Use Appointments to Improve Your Decision-Making

Snap decisions often cause regrettable damage to our finances, relationships, and overall well-being. When confronted with a difficult decision, especially one that evokes an emotional response, it’s important to take your time and think through it from several angles. Try to let the emotional side take a back seat and consider your decision objectively.

This can be admittedly difficult to do. These decisions and the stress they cause can weigh on your mind and consume your time. How can you think about work or other important matters when such big decisions loom?

Sometimes, putting a placeholder on your calendar can relieve immediate stress and help you assess a wide range of situations more dispassionately. Doing so can also allow you to put the decision out of your mind so you can focus on tasks at hand. Your calendar placeholder ensures you won’t forget to revisit the decision, meaning you don’t have to fret it about in the meantime. That alone will give you some peace of mind.

Block Out Time for Projects and Decisions

Sometimes we have so much to do it’s hard to sit down and concentrate. Scheduling our time through our online calendars and apps can help us get important things accomplished. 

Look at everything you need to get done for the day. Then schedule out blocks of time for each task. This will enable you to really focus on one thing at a time and boost your productivity. 

Doing this also helps declutter your mind. Keeping all your tasks for your professional and personal life in your head can add to your stress and anxiety. Getting it all down in your calendar enables you to clear your mind so you can actually complete your to-dos.

You schedule appointments to get things done at work all the time. Why not do the same for your personal life? Add in your haircut or your kid’s soccer game. The less you have to keep in your head, the freer you are to be fully present. 

Adding appointments for time to reflect or do research will facilitate your decision-making as well. You might schedule time to pore over your budget to see if you can buy the SUV you’ve been eyeing. You might also set aside time to compare various models and the dealer incentives different brands are offering. Taking this prep time lets you keep your purchase a priority but prevents you from recklessly signing on the dotted line at the urging of a smooth-talking sales rep.

Assess How You Use Your Time

As you begin to schedule time for decision-making purposes, you might feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. How can you decide on the best uses of your time? Start by learning exactly what takes up your time at work and at home.

Calendar analytics can show you what you’ve been up to and inform your decisions about how you spend your time. Are you in meetings all day? Do you devote lots of travel time getting to a shared work space? Do all your kids’ sports have you on the road several days a week? With calendar analytics, you can learn the distribution of your calendar appointment types and see the locations of your meetings. 

With this information, you can re-evaluate and make necessary changes so you can make the most of your limited hours. If you need to schedule a time for decision-making purposes, it can open your eyes to the best days and times available.

Use Dead Time for Productive Purposes

After reviewing your calendar analytics, you might discover blocks of wasted or dead time. You might find yourself waiting at the doctor’s office or when picking your kids up. Maybe you have a 30-minute gap between meetings or a long commute. You can make better decisions about how you spend this time, too. These little blocks of time can really add up!

You can leverage this time to learn a new skill or catch up on an enriching podcast. These solo moments could also be a good time to come to a decision on an issue at the office or at home. When you see that gap, go ahead and add an appointment to your calendar. For example, “Reflect on ways to save money this month.”

Improve Your Time Management

When deciding on the best use of your limited hours, it all comes down to time management. Effective time management will increase your productivity and help you stay on top of your obligations both at work and at home. If you find yourself routinely completing work tasks at the last minute or paying your rent late, you’ll need to find ways to be more organized.

After all, disorganization can spill over into those big life decisions as well. Poor time management can cause you to have to make a quick, last-minute choice that you’ll regret later. 

When it comes to big decisions, giving yourself plenty of time to make informed, cool-headed  choices is key. Setting calendar reminders for these moments can give you the space and mental clarity you need to to set yourself up for a great life.

How Your Calendar Can Save the World

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How Your Calendar Can Save the World

Is it ambitious to want to save the world? Sure. But, as Eddie Vedder sings on one of my all-time favorite Pearl Jam tunes, “Sometimes.”

Seek my part, devote myself

My small self

Like a book amongst the many on a shelf

Whatever you truly care about, spending any amount of time championing it can make the world a better place — even if it’s just in your small pocket of the world. After all, if we all made a little effort, we could have the power to impact our little third rock from the Sun positively.

Of course, time restraints are always holding us back from making a difference. But, thanks to your trusted calendar, that’s no longer an excuse. In fact, thanks to the calendar, we can all participate in saving the world in our own unique ways.

1. Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

“In the event of a sudden drop in pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from above. Secure your own mask first before assisting others.”

If you’ve ever flown, then you’re familiar with that announcement. But, why? It’s straightforward.

If you don’t put your oxygen mask on first, then how can you assist those who can not? After all, the lack of oxygen will cause you to pass out. As such, this will leave others in a precarious situation.

The same is true in your daily life. If you don’t carve out time to attend to your own health and wellbeing, then you aren’t in the best spot to make a positive impact. For example, if you’re too burned out from work, then you aren’t going to have the energy to help struggling employees or volunteer in the community.

What’s the best way to help yourself first? By adding self-care to your calendar.

Self-care, as explained  in a previous Calendar article, “is when you regularly engage in activities and practices that make you feel calm and re-energized.”

“Some might consider this being on the selfish side,” adds Deanna. “But, self-care is a proven way to reduce stress. It’s also key in maintaining our own mental, emotional, and even physical health.” Because of this, self-care is “vital in protecting and enhancing our short- and long-term health and wellbeing.”

While you may think that you don’t have the time for self-care, you can use your calendar to make this possible by:

  • Following a routine that at least “encourages a consistent sleep-wake cycle, meal schedule, and workflow. If possible, try to base these around your circadian rhythms,” Deanna states.
  • “Regularly scheduling 2-3 nutrient-rich meals per day.” To make this easier, schedule deliveries from companies like Misfits Market or SnackNation.
  • Blocking out periods of time for physical activity and setting reminders to stand up and stretch.
  • Setting office hours so that you can actually unplug and detach from work. You should also share your calendar with others so that they know when you’re available and when you’re not.
  • Scheduling social activities.
  • Reducing screen. Instead of being glued to your phone, replace that with other activities like walking or reading a book.
  • Penciling in alone-time so that you can reflect and engage in self-talk.
  • Leave blank spaces in your calendar so that you can spend that time however you please.

2. Cultivate Gratitude

Looking for an uncomplicated activity that can lower stress, improve sleep, and strengthen your relationship ships. Look no further than practicing gratitude. In particular, try the GIFT Technique, as suggested by Anna Hennings, MA, a mental performance coach in sport psychology:

  • Growth: personal growth, such as learning a new skill
  • Inspiration: whatever has inspired you
  • Friends/family: those who are supportive and enrich your life
  • Tranquility: those small and meaningful moments, like sipping on your morning tea
  • Surprise: acknowledging unexpected surprises

Keep that acronym when identifying what you’re grateful for. After that, jot these items down in your journal during your morning or evening routine.

In addition to writing in a gratitude journal, actually show others how much you appreciate them. Examples include greeting your employees when they come into work or sending handwritten “thank you” cards. Other recommendations would be to publicly acknowledge others, offering thoughtful gifts/rewards, and being respectful of their time.

3. Volunteer Your Time

“When you volunteer your time, you are helping others in need while also spending your time in an excellent way,” note the folks over at Wheels For Wishes. “Not only are you making others happy, but you will also feel great about yourself.” However, since there are so many organizations where you could volunteer, where can you start?

Thankfully, the Wheels For Wishes put together the following list to help you get on your way:

  • Walk dogs at an animal shelter
  • Adopt or foster a pet
  • Volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation
  • Give blood
  • Serve food at a soup kitchen
  • Organize a fundraising event
  • Volunteer at a children’s summer camp
  • Donate your hair
  • Adopt a highway and keep it clean
  • Pick up trash in your neighborhood
  • Spend time at a nursing home
  • Organize a food or coat drive
  • Tutor or mentor
  • Run errands for the elderly
  • Knit hats for those going through chemotherapy

Go through your calendar to check your availability. For example, since my calendar is wide open next weekend, and the weather is supposed to be pleasant, I’m going to collect the trash along the side of my road. By adding this to my calendar, I’m committing to it and not letting anything else take its place.

4. Offer Your Services

What skills or knowledge do you possess? Put them to good use by offering them up for free.

For instance, if you’re a doctor, you could spend your downtime at a free clinic. Are you a lawyer or accountant? Offer free advice at community or senior centers when needed, like right before tax season. Do you know how to code? Build or update the website for a nonprofit.

5. Make a Donation

Don’t have the availability to volunteer or offer your services? No problem. You can still give back to others through donations. For instance, you could go through your kitchen and donate perishable food items. Go through your closet and donate blankets, coats, or hats you no longer wear.

But, what’s there’s more! Animal shelters could use old towels, cleaning supplies, or unopened pet food and treats. Nurseries could take baby blankets off your hands, while daycares might be interested in books or art supplies.

You could also donate your vehicle. And, you can never go wrong with a cash donation.

6. Commit to a Regular Contribution

Is there a cause that you’re passionate about? Then why not become a regular contributor? It’s pretty setting-and-forgetting your contributions. For instance, you could make an automated monthly donation to NPR or The Adventure Project — just put a reminder in your calendar so that you keep your bank account in good order.

$10 a month may not be much to you. But, it can truly make all the difference in the world for those in need.

7. Be Informed

What are you passionate about? Whatever it is, learn as much about the topic as possible during your downtime.

Let’s say that this is climate change. You should keep informed via sources like Nature Climate Change; the “Ask NASA” website, CleanTechnica. You could also listen to podcasts, watch TED Talks, or attend online events.

The more you know, the more you can educate others or find ways to make a difference.

8. Get Involved Politically

No matter your political affiliation, always go out and vote both locally and naturally. I would search for election dates in your neck of the woods so that you can mark your calendar to prevent forgetting. Remember, there are way more elections out there than the Presidential Election that takes place every four years.

But, there’s more you can do besides casting your ballot. You could volunteer for a campaign, like phone banking, knocking on doors, or registering new voters. And, keep politicians accountable by contacting them or attending town hall events.

9. Use Your Voice

Do you disagree with how a brand treats its employees? Send them an email voicing your concerns. Is a company polluting the environment or abusing animals? Let others know through social media and in-person conversations.

You might think that this is time-consuming. These are all actions you could take when batching tasks like cleaning out your inbox or updating your social channels.

10. Conduct an Energy Audit

An energy audit is pretty self-explanatory. It’s when you go through your home or workplace to find out where it’s losing energy so that you can correct this problem. While there are professionals who can do this, you can schedule to do this on your own by:

  • Finding and sealing air leaks coming through doors, windows, or gaps along the baseboard.
  • Checking insulation levels in the ceiling and walls.
  • Annually inspecting heating and cooling equipment.
  • Estimating the energy use of your appliances.
  • Switching to more energy-efficient appliances.
  • Replacing your old bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

11. Create Reminders to Power Down

“All things plugged in will bleed some energy,” writes Vanessa Vadim for Treehugger. “Called ‘standby’ electricity loss because it’s so often associated with electronics in standby or idle mode, it’s also known as ‘phantom’ or ‘vampire” electricity.’”

But, what if you turn off all of your appliances. Doesn’t matter. They’re still drawing power.

“The Natural Resources Defense Council says the cost of plugged-in but not used devices is about $165 per household or $19 billion across the U.S.,” adds Vadim. “That amounts to about 44 million tons of carbon dioxide, or 4.6% of the country’s total residential electricity generation, points out The New York Times.”

One way to resolve this would be powering down and unplugging the electronics you use at work before leaving. If you usually “clock-out” by 5 p.m., then spend the last 30-minutes organizing your workspace and flipping off your power strip. And, you can do the same thing before bed in your home.

Suppose you know that you won’t be home or in the office for an extended period, add a calendar reminder. For instance, if you’re leaving at 9 a.m., then receive a reminder 15-minutes before so that you can turn off the lights and unplug unnecessary appliances.

12. Set the Ideal Temperature

Thermostat wars are fairly commonplace at both home and the workplace. However, constantly fiddling with the temperature doesn’t just cause rifts between family members and colleagues. It can also impact everything from your sleep to productivity. And, it’s also detrimental to the environment.

The answer? Install an automatic thermostat and set it at the right temperature at the right time. For example, the Helsinki University of Technology’s Laboratory for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning state that the ideal temperature for the “typical” office is around 71.6 F. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), however, recommends keeping the thermostat between 68 and 76 F.

Regardless of your exact preference, keep the workplace comfortable so that you aren’t shivering or sweating. At the end of the day, though, crank down the heat or turn up the air so that you aren’t wasting energy when no one is around.

Better yet? Invest in a smart thermostat. It will learn your patterns and adjust accordingly. You can also sync these devices with your calendar. For instance, you can connect your Google Calendar with Google Home/Nest to control the temperature of your residence or workplace from anywhere.

Moreover, Project Drawdown anticipates that “smart thermostats could grow from 3 percent to 58-63 percent of households with Internet access by 2050.” If so, this means “1,453-1,589 million homes would have them,” and it could avoid 7.0-7.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions.

13. Reduce Unnecessary Mail

41 pounds. That’s how much junk mail the average American receives each year. In order to produce that much requires the cutting down of between 80 and 100 million trees annually!

Besides the environmental impact, junk mail is annoying and sometimes time-consuming if you happen to the type of person who reads every correspondence they receive. To stop this, you can:

  • Opt-out of credit card and insurance offers via OptOutPrescreen.com.
  • To stop receiving unwanted direct mail, register on the National Do Not Mail List.
  • Opt-out of catalogs and magazine subscriptions by contacting Catalog Choice, CoxTarget, or Publishers Clearing House (800.645.9242 or [email protected]) and Readers Digest (800.310.6261).
  • Directly ask for your name to be removed from the mailing lists of companies or nonprofits.
  • Download the PaperKarma app. Just snap a pic of the piece of mail, select the name or address you want removed, and press unsubscribe. Easy peasy.

And, even though it’s not junk mail, make sure that you go paperless. As opposed to receiving monthly statements and mailing payments, you can do all of this online.

14. Prepare Your Meals

“Today, an estimated one-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste,” notes the World Wildlife Fund. “That’s equal to about 1.3 billion tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains that either never leave the farm, get lost or spoiled during distribution, or are thrown away in hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, or home kitchens.” That’s “enough calories to feed every undernourished person on the planet.”

“But wasted food isn’t just a social or humanitarian concern—it’s an environmental one,” adds the WWF. “When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And if food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.”

It’s actually estimated that roughly “11% of all the greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food. In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 37 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.”

To prevent food waste, plan your meal ahead. For example, you could spend Sundaymorning coming up with a menu for the week. When you go to the store, this ensures that you’ll only buy what you need. And, then you can actually prepare your meals.

I’ve gotten into the habit of this. And, I’m a fan. It’s a type of batching where I don’t have to do much cooking throughout the week. Even though I enjoy cooking, this saves me time, money and even has reduced the packing waste.

As for leftovers? I either freeze them or get creative. For instance, if I’m on day three of veggie chili, I make chili quesadillas out of them to have something different. The rest is in my freezer, ready to be thawed on one of those cold and dreary days we tend to have in the Northeast during the winter.

Bonus points if you make a weekly trip to a local farmer’s market. If that’s not an option, most markets are seasonal around me, look into produce subscription boxes like Misfits Market, Imperfect Foods, Farm Fresh to You, Farmbox Direct, and Farm to People.

15. Regularly Eat Together as a Family (or Team)

Growing up, my family ate together—6 o’clock sharp. No exceptions. As we got older, this became less frequent. But, we still had Sunday dinner.

As a kid, this might have been frustrating. Why would I want to sit down to eat when I could be playing outside or hanging out with my friends. Little did I know, eating together as a family was key in keeping us connected.

It turns out that throughout the years, research backs this assertion up.

While it doesn’t have to be dinner, having meals together is beneficial as it:

  • Teaches children better eating habits. In fact, teens ate more fruits and veggies, and less fast food and sugary beverages, if they ate with their family.
  • It can prevent psychosocial issues. These include eating disorders, substance abuse, and depression.
  • Curtails weight problems later in life. Even just gathering once or twice a week can help protect children from weight problems as adults.
  • Improves children’s self-esteem. During meals, children can talk about themselves, which in turn, makes them feel more self-confident.
  • Bolsters communication skills. Between socialization and conversations, children can become better communicators.
  • It helps kids bounce back from cyberbullying. With more guidance from their parents, kids experience setbacks from cyberbullying like anxiety.
  • It can be used to supplement family therapy. If a family is seeing a therapist, meals provide an opportunity to share the lessons learned.

Before it gets filled up, schedule regular mealtimes with your family in your calendar. It’s a surefire way to avoid conflicts. Plus, it makes planning easier since you can build your schedule around family time.

Moreover, if you’re leading a team, try to have regular lunches together — even if they’re virtual. Studies have found that groups who have lunches together have higher morale and productivity.

16. Shop Locally

What happens when you shop locally? Well, here are 10 positive outcomes courtesy of Independent We Stand:

  • “For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community.” That’s only $43 at a national chain.
  • You’re embracing what makes your community unique.
  • You’re creating “jobs for teachers, firemen, police officers, and many other essential professions.”
  • “Buying from a locally owned business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging.”
  • It nurtures the community since it’s been found that “local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains.”
  • You’re reinvesting your tax-dollars back into the community.
  • There are more products and services geared for your specific area.
  • You can actually get friendly, expert advice.
  • You’re supporting local entrepreneurship.
  • It helps make your community become a destination.

Where’ your calendar come into play? Well, you could mark it for dates like Small Business Saturday or when there will be sales events throughout the year. Or, you could build this into your schedule. If your farmer’s market is only open on the weekend, then do all of your local shopping on Saturday or Sunday.

17. Run Errands At Once

Piggybacking off that last point, reduce your carbon footprint by doing all of your errands in one shot. Let’s say that you have Tuesday afternoon wide open. Since you have the availability, block that timeframe out so that you can buy groceries, pick-up your dry cleaning, or fill your car up with gas — as opposed to running back-and-forth throughout the week.

As an additional perk, you’ll also save valuable time. And, this could be a chance to spend quality time with a family member or friend — which can help you achieve work-life integration.

18. Walk or Bike

Getting outside and getting the blood pumping is a win-win for your overall health and wellbeing. But, if you have spare time and the weather is cooperating, leave your car at home when running errands. While not always possible if you have a car full of groceries, if you need to pick-up items at a farm stand, this is beneficial for you, the local economy, and the environment.

19. Extend the Life of Your Lithium Battery

“One of the biggest environmental problems caused by our endless hunger for the latest and smartest devices is a growing mineral crisis, particularly those needed to make our batteries,” Christina Valimaki, an analyst at Elsevier, told Wired. Consequently, mining operations are impacting local communities, such as those who grow quinoa and herd llamas in Chile.

What’s more, this process can “scar the landscape” and cause toxic chemicals to bleed into water supplies. As if that weren’t bad enough, some mining operations rely on child labor.

Since it’s futile to give-up our lithium battery addiction, we can at least extend the life of our current batteries so that we aren’t constantly replacing them. The easiest way? Not letting your battery completely drain.

“Try to keep batteries charged at an average 50% or above most of the time — at the very least somewhere between 40% and 80% — to preserve an optimal life span,” suggests Jackie Dove and Paula Beaton for Digital Trends. “Even though your charger can control electronic input to prevent damage, you should unplug the phone when power hits 100% and, if possible, avoid overnight charging.”

You can achieve this by putting your phone on airplane mode when you’re working, eating, or sleeping. Other recommendations are keeping your apps up-to-date, removing apps/widgets you don’t use, dimming your screen, using dark wallpaper, and disabling location services.

20. Frequently Check-In With Others

During your morning or evening routine, check-in with a family member, friend, or colleague. It doesn’t have to be much. It could be a simple text message or a quick phone call letting them know that they’re on your mind.

Just checking in on others strengthens relationships, improves your health, and can help you become more comfortable opening up. Most importantly, this can help them overcome any issues that they’re struggling with. Or, at the very least, it can provide a healthy distraction.

The good people over at I Don’t Mind have ten questions you should ask during your check-in. And, after you’ve opened up the lines of communication, schedule a video call and put it in your calendar for a more in-depth convo.

21. Take a Vacation

Vacations are a proven way to improve your life satisfaction, productivity, and both your mental and physical health. It can spark creativity, give you new perspectives, and allows you to bond with others.

While that’s great for you and your relationships, traveling could also support local economies — especially those that have suffered from events like natural disasters. You could also volunteer while abroad. And, there are even options from companies like Responsible Travel that support communities and preserve nature.

If you can’t get away because of COVID or your schedule won’t allow it, plan a staycation. It may not be the same. But, this still gives you a chance to unwind, spend time with those closest to you, and back to your local community.

22. Add Holidays and Observances

Finally, open up your calendar and add lesser-known holidays and observations. Why? Because this allows you to observe and spread awareness on worthwhile causes thoughtfully. Some suggestions are:

Always Resolve Your Calendar Conflicts

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If you were able to have a superpower, what would it be? For me? I would want the ability to be in two places at once.

That might not sound like the most thrilling of powers. But think about it? You could tackle your work responsibilities while playing with your kids, reading, or whatever else you enjoy during your downtime.

A Properly Managed Calendar Can Feel Almost Magical

Of course, this isn’t realistic. That’s why it’s imperative that you properly manage your calendar. If you don’t, it will feel like you’re trying to be in multiple places simultaneously.

That might not sound like a biggie. But calendar conflicts are frustrating and stressful. They can also cause you to fall behind in your work. And, they could also fracture relationships if this becomes a recurring issue.

The good news? There are ways to resolve your calendar conflicts? And here are 8 such ways to achieve this feat.

1. Avoid conflicts by going digital.

Want to prevent conflicts from happening in the first place? Then you probably should make a move from a paper calendar or planner to a digital option.

I’m not completely hating on old-school paper calendars. In fact, they can still come in handy. After all, they excel at providing a quick visual reminder. And, we tend to remember events better when it’s written down.

At the same time, they can be problematic. Let’s say that you were at a networking event and agreed to follow-up with a new contact. You agree to a phone call next Wednesday at 1 pm. However, when you go to add this entry when you get back to your office, you see that you had a prior commitment.

It’s not the end of the word for you to reschedule. But, if you had a calendar app, you would have been able to see your availability right there on the spot. What’s more, most calendar software won’t even let you double-book your time and will suggest a different time.

As if that weren’t enough, you could share your calendar with others. When you do, they can either see when you’re available. Or, they can book a meeting with you directly through the calendar.

And, one more thing. Online calendars also come with time-zone recognition. That means it will automatically convert time zones to avoid any confusion.

2. Don’t wait until tomorrow.

The longer you wait to put entries into your calendar, the higher the probability for conflicts to arise. Going back to following-up with the contact you met. Until you had the call to your calendar, it doesn’t exist.

Even worse? Something else might creep in and try to claim that block of time. If that happens, you’re going to have to do some last-minute reshuffling.

In short, schedule your priorities and important dates ASAP. For instance, if you know, there’s a meeting scheduled on the 30th of the month book the conference room this very second. If you have a dentist’s appointment in 6 months, get that in your calendar before scheduling something else.

3. Keep your calendar lean and mean.

As I just mentioned, if something isn’t in your calendar, then it’s not worthy of your time and energy. But, does that mean that you need to literally plan every minute of your day? Not exactly.

By all means, get those key entries onto your calendar. But, also leave some blocks open. One example of this would be having a gap between meetings. It’s a simple way to prevent overlapping — plus, it allows you to catch your breath.

Furthermore, there’s another reason not to pack your calendar too tight. It will let you address any emergencies that might pop-up. In turn, you won’t completely ruin your schedule.

And, it’s also been found that healthy scheduling habits make you happy. Specifically, this applies to your social life. For instance, if you don’t have anything planned after running errands and you bumped into a friend, you could catch-up without feeling crunched for time.

4. Stay cool like a cucumber.

So, you’ve got a conflict? You might instinctively have a panic attack. Take a deep breath and relax. Everything’s going to be OK.

The worst possible outcome is that you might disappoint someone or have to adjust your schedule. It’s an annoyance. But, if you’re honest and aren’t making last-minute changes, everything will get back to order.

Additionally, if the other party made a mistake, show a little empathy. As humans, that’s going to happen. Besides, chastising them won’t help correct their time management problems.

5. Don’t have a communication breakdown.

While your handy online calendar can help avert possible conflicts, you can’t solely rely on it. Case in point, you have a family emergency a couple of hours before a meeting. Your calendar obviously doesn’t know this information. As a result, it’s still going to assume that the event will take place as scheduled.

In this case, you need to let the other attendees know. You also need to cancel or reschedule that event. If you don’t have a new date in mind, just let them know that you will pick a new date as soon as possible.

Long story short, keep the lines of communication open. It may take you a couple of minutes. But, it shows others that you respect their valuable time. And, it may also help you de-escalate any possible workplace conflicts.

6. Have a backup plan.

You can’t possibly prepare for every scenario. Personally, I just don’t think that’s possible. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a Plan D, C, and D.

For instance, if you have to reschedule a virtual call, come up with a couple of other possible alternative dates. The reason? Since you have a proposal ready, you won’t play the time-consuming game of cat and mouse.

What if you don’t fill these blocks of time up? No worries. You can use that block to tackle backburner tasks, get the head start on a new project, or kick back and relax for a minute.

Another suggestion could be when it comes to employee scheduling. You might want to have some back-ups in cause someone can’t make it into work. To make this process a little easier on you, you could even permit your team members to pick their own subs.

7. It’s OK to say no.

What if you said yes to a time request only to find out that there’s a calendar dispute? The answer is easy. Just say, “no.”

I know that you don’t want to upset anyone. However, you aren’t doing anyone any favors by spreading yourself too thin. So, if you are already going to a party on Saturday, then you’ll have to pass on another invite.

When it comes to working, you also need to know your limitations. If you’re at full capacity, then don’t accept or volunteer for new assignments.

What exactly should you decline? That’s really up to you. But, some of the most common examples would be:

  • Anything that could be easily delegated or outsourced.
  • Actions that don’t align with your vision.
  • Things that distract you.
  • Unhealthy habits.
  • Things that aren’t in your control.

I’d also add that just because you reject a time request doesn’t mean you should feel guilty. In fact, you could offer an alternative date when you have the availability. After all, if you don’t protect your time, then who will?

Calendar Spam is a Problem (How to Fix)

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

A New Frontier For Spamming

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

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

The Calendar Invite Spam Threat is Real

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

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

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Google Calendar

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

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

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

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Apple Calendar

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

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

Remain Vigilant

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

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

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

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

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

1. Calendar

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

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

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

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

2. Fantastical 2

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

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

You will have to purchase Fantastical 2 for $4.99.

3. Google Calendar

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

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

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

4. Calendars 5

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

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

5. Microsoft Calendar

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

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

6. Tiny Calendar

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

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

7. Jorte Calendar

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

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

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

8. SolCalendar

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

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

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

9. TimeTree

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

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

10. 24me

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

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

The free app is available for Android and iOS.

Criteria for an Amazing Calendar App

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

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

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

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

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

How about some calendar planning tools?

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

1. Calendar

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

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

A simple share.

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

Machine learning.

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

2. Plan

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

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

3. Fantastical 2

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

Today Widget

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

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

4. DayViewer

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

Assign and discuss tasks.

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

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

5. Informant 5

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

Using natural language.

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

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

6. Teamweek

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

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

You can take this tool with you.

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

7. Wunderlist

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

Sharing and reminding.

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

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

Available on most sites.

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

8. RescueTime

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

Analyzes time spent on activities.

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

Alarm.

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

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

9. ZenDay

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

Syncs well.

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

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

10. Day by Day Organizer

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

Voice will send to different sites.

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

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

11. TimeTune

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

Custom notification and tags.

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

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

12. Any.do

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

Award winning app.

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

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

13. HabitBull

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

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

Give yourself a star with goals completed.

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

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

14. Basecamp

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

View and track progress.

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

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

15. Canva

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

Lets you start from scratch.

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

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

100 Calendar Tips Only Productive People Use

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4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Schedule

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

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

1. Know your goals.

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

2. Find a calendar that works for you.

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

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

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

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

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

4. Don’t rely just on your calendar.

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

5. Create an annual plan.

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

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

6. Design your ideal week.

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

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

7. Start your week on Sunday.

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

8. Establish a daily routine.

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

9. One calendar to rule them all.

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

10. You gotta keep them separated (optional).

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

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

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

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

12. Find the greatest view.

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

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

13. Your calendar should be like a rainbow.

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

14. Each day should have a theme.

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

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

15. Schedule time for planning.

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

16. Time blocking > lists.

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

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

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

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

18. Create a zero-based calendar.

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

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

19. Launch reminders.

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

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

20. Set a creativity schedule.

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

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

21. Perfect the art of batching.

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

22. Add other time zones.

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

23. Assess your calendar every morning.

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

24. Review your calendar frequently.

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

25. Find time in your schedule.

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

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

26. Print out your calendar.

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

27. Practice the 80/20 rule.

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

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

28. Frogs: the breakfast of champions.

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

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

29. The Pomodoro Technique.

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

30. Know your MIT.

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

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

31. Implement 90-minute focus sessions.

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

32. Practice the 52-17 rule.

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

33. Try the Polyphasic sleep method.

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

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

34. Take the cross calendar approach.

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

35. Three. It’s the magic number.

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

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

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

36. Bucket your priorities.

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

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

37. Plan ahead by energy.

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

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

38. Block out time for white space.

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

39. Plan for distractions and interruptions.

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

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

40. Capture new information in real-time.

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

41. Avoid decisions.

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

42. Say “yes” to less.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

45. Audit your past calendars.

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

46. Built-in flexibility.

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

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

47. Simplify your problems.

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

48. Create recurring events.

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

49. Take into account transitions.

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

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

50. Build-in time buffers.

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

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

51. One event-free day a week.

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

52. Make the most of the extra fields.

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

53. Schedule client days.

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

54. Help clients prepare.

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

55. Don’t stick to default time.

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

56. Follow up.

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

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

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

58. Allow people to schedule on your calendar.

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

59. Always start on time.

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

60. Eliminate back-to-back meetings.

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

61. Don’t schedule last-minute meetings.

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

62. Set odd times.

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

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

63. Keep your calendar centrally located.

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

64. Use a cross-platform calendar.

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

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

65. Share the right calendar with the right people.

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

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

66. Enable cloud storage.

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

67. Keep your calendar updated.

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

68. Hide early morning/late night hours.

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

69. Stay on top of the holidays.

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

70. Add relevant attachments and locations.

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

71. Enable off-line.

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

72. Make your calendar public.

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

73. Embed your calendar.

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

74. Import information from other apps.

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

75. Consolidate.

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

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

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

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

77. Create a boilerplate daily schedule.

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

78. Protect admin and personal days.

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

79. Make notable calendar entries stand out.

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

80. Create your own calendar templates.

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

81. Automate your calendar.

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

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

82. Don’t set deadlines on Mondays.

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

83. Schedule time for email.

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

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

84. Book your calendar well in advance.

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

85. Give each calendar a unique name.

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

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

86. Display and hide specific calendars.

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

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

87. End on time.

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

88. Delegate your calendar to someone else.

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

89. Take the middle of the day off.

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

90. Create an out-of-office message.

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

91. Learn keyboard shortcuts.

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

92. Your voice is a powerful tool.

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

93. Keep your days and weeks consistent.

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

94. Address conflicts ASAP.

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

95. Think in “half-time.”

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

96. Set time limits.

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

97. Keep your calendar clutter-free.

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

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

98. Schedule time for self-care.

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

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

99. Have a calendar cancellation policy.

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

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

100. Pick the best brains.

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

How Do You Make a Productive Calendar?

By | Scheduling | No Comments

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

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

You’ll do better with one.

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

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

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

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

Live in your calendar.

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

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

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

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

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

Your calendar should only include the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employ arrow-method.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Establish flexible boundaries.

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

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

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

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

Look back to look ahead.

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

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

Schedule regular check-ins.

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

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