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How Can I Better Manage My Time Management Needs

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You can always do better to improve your time management abilities and habits. Manage your time management needs to make your life better.

Signs that you need to improve your time management abilities and habits include the following:

  • your long-term ambitions appear elusive;
  • you are not getting much done; and
  • you miss or move your deadlines.

There is no project manager assigned to your life to manage your time and responsibilities properly. You can take charge of your own time management needs.

Everyone struggles with time management. It is a skill most of us could use some help to improve. However, signs that you need to improve your time management abilities and habits include:

  • your long-term ambitions appear elusive;
  • you often miss or move deadlines;
  • you can’t concentrate and struggle to accomplish chores or projects;
  • your work list is overwhelming;
  • you decide you just cannot do it all;
  • you labor longer than you should on particular tasks;
  • you’re always stressed; and
  • you’re trying hard…but getting nowhere.

If any of the following apply to you, it’s time to grow up a bit and work on your time management.

Finding Out How Time Management Works

1. Set objectives.

We often ignore goals while managing our time.

It’s easy to lose sight of long-term objectives amid everyday duties. As a result, you may struggle to concentrate on the most pressing issues or prioritize your extensive list of responsibilities.

Overwhelmed? Re-evaluate your task list. Will spending time on this specific task help you achieve your goals?

Work from your SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-Based. Unrealistic or vague objectives are challenging to monitor and generally unfinished.

2. Plan your time.

Stop letting others schedule your time.

The most effective strategy to acquire time management skills is to be purposeful with your time. You are making time management a habit that may help you achieve long-term objectives while reducing distractions and increasing attention. When planning your time working from home, keep in mind different timetables.

For example, notify your roommates when you don’t want to be disturbed, go to a public place, or make a lot of noise. Establishing expectations ahead of time decreases the possibilities for conflict.

3. Plan time chunks.

Blocking your time is an excellent method to prioritize non-urgent, long-term projects that demand attention and significant labor.

  • It’s generally put on hold when more pressing duties demand your attention.
  • Setting aside time to focus on specific tasks ensures progress.
  • Limiting work time also reduces task fatigue.

A shared calendar at work might help discourage employees from arranging meetings within your time blocks.

4. Find your time management peak hours.

Power hours are when you have the most incredible energy and do the most.

You may already be aware of your power hours. If you’re unsure, monitor your time to find out. Therefore, during your power hours, schedule your most vital and time-consuming chores.

However, schedule monotonous jobs that don’t demand much concentration throughout the day.

5. Use sprints for focus.

It’s not always simple to start a job or work deep. Therefore, the Pomodoro approach works well for task beginning and attention issues.

Schedule brief (15–30 minute) periods of intense concentration on a single activity. Then take a five-minute pause between sprints. Prepare a distraction-free environment before a concentration sprint. Get rid of everything except what you need to complete your task.

For example, enable Do Not Disturb on your devices. Avoid putting up with talkative roommates. Your sprints may be as long or as short as you choose. However, five- and ten-minute sprints with one-minute pauses may be more suitable for you.

6. Set time management priorities.

Our to-do lists may suddenly balloon. Idea generation and idealization are human strengths. Ideas are limitless, but time is limited. Pretending you can manufacture time increases your stress levels. For example, the Eisenhower Matrix is a powerful prioritizing tool.

Even if you don’t use the diagram to prioritize activities, the vocabulary and structure may help you evaluate their worth. For example, tasks that need quick attention.

  • Important: Tasks that help you achieve your objectives. However, they aren’t always urgent, yet failure to do so has significant implications.

The Eisenhower Time Management Matrix divides work into four quadrants. Using this approach will help you prioritize your tasks.

Prioritize these tasks. Next, do these things.

  • Important But Not Urgent: Postpone or assign. Don’t do it! Remove it from your list.

You don’t have to do everything. However, delete tasks that don’t fulfill your aims to save time, especially if you created them. It takes some trial and error to find the right one for you. Nevertheless, it is possible to build good time management skills.

7. Schedule your week and days.

Every day and week, set your aims and priorities. However, planning your calendar offers you a better sense of the future and allows you to prepare for it.

Therefore, checking in on your time management priorities keeps you on track with your objectives and helps you to adjust to new ones.

8. Saying no.

Time is limited. Even in business, boundaries are necessary. You may feel pressured to say yes to every request, but you aren’t.

It’s essential to be aggressive, know your limitations, and avoid over-committing. Breach of obligations erodes confidence in relationships.

9. Feed your brain.

We frequently take our intellect for granted. Focus isn’t only a result of willpower. Our brains must be in tip-top shape.

You are taking pauses, sleeping enough, eating well, exercising regularly, and socializing to help executive function. If you’ve ever felt “hangry” or grumpy after a stormy night’s sleep, you’re not 100%.

However, when you’re irritable, you’re more likely to create problems at work and at home. Therefore, trying to work when you’re not at your best leads to poor work and mental misery.

10. Stop looking for motivation or inspiration.

You won’t get much done if you wait for inspiration to hit. Set a small objective to get started.

Focus sprints might help you finish challenging activities. Starting time management may inspire you even for five minutes. However, don’t ignore social media.

11. No such thing as time management multitasking.

Multitasking is a losing proposition. Constant interruptions degrade attention, reducing work completion.

Instead of jumping from activity to task, make a list of recurring charges and schedule them. However, it’s tough to resist multitasking when you’re not the only one working from home, but setting limits will pay you in the long term. However, always look for new time savers.

12. Plan your message check-ins.

You may believe checking every email, social media direct message, and phone contact are polite. Like multitasking, these random interruptions limit your capacity to accomplish serious work. Instead, schedule time to catch up on mail.

How Can I Better Manage My Time Management Needs was oringinally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine. Featured Image Credit: CottonBro; Pexels. Thank you!

How Not to Dread Returning to Work After Time Off

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Office Worker Slumped Over Desk

How did you spend your recent vacation? Did you soak up the sun at the beach or go hiking in the mountains? Maybe you backpacked through Europe, took a family road trip, or simply had a relaxing staycation. Everything seems to be going well until you realize that returning to work awaits you on the last day of vacation. And, it starts with a capital W.

No. Your mind isn’t playing tricks on you. We all hate going back to work after vacation. In fact, it’s a phenomenon that’s been studied numerous times. As an example, a Zapier / Harris Poll found that 87% of knowledge workers dread returning to work after taking a vacation.

But, why? The following tasks are among the most dreaded.

  • Reestablishing a routine – 37 percent.
  • Getting caught up with administrative tasks – 31 percent.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by busy work – 27 percent.
  • Post-vacation blues – 27 percent.
  • Dealing with piles of unread emails/messages – 26 percent.
  • Being overwhelmed by a busy schedule – 25 percent.
  • Not being in the loop about tasks – 23 percent.
  • Catching up on missed work while feeling unproductive – 20 percent.
  • Missing an important decision made while they were away – 18 percent.
  • A delay in a project caused by their absence – 18 percent.
  • Having trouble managing their projects – 17 percent.

Hanging On to Vacation Benefits Upon Return

Psychologist Jeroen Nawijn, who has studied how vacations affect the quality of life, tells Popular Science that people generally feel rejuvenated after a vacation. However, these benefits tend to disappear after they return home. “They most likely feel best during vacation because they have more freedom to do what they want,” he explains.

Suzanne Degges-White, a therapist at Northern Illinois University and chair of the department of counseling and higher education, agrees. “Once we get back into the work world, the majority of us have to answer to someone about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and when we’ll be done,” she says.

In addition, she says that going on vacation doesn’t alleviate all of our responsibilities and quandaries. “Many people dread the return as they know that problems may have stacked up in their absence. There may be a pile of new requests of their time on top of the unfinished tasks they left behind,” Degges-White explains.

Additionally, she points out the impact of switching from a more flexible sleep schedule on vacation to a more rigid and regimented bedtime schedule during the week. Moreover, overeating (and drinking, if that is your thing) can lead to sluggishness. And, it can also negatively impact wellbeing.

At the same time, you don’t have to let the good times go after the vacation has ended.

1. Plan before you go.

Before leaving for vacation, prepare for returning to work.

As soon as you begin planning your vacation, you should consider what potential problems or events could distract you. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to start any big projects. Be sure to complete any urgent tasks before you depart if there are any deadlines during your absence.

If you’re going away, plan ahead and get your team to assist you while you’re away. I’d also suggest that you reciprocate while they are away.

Some other tips include:

  • Tackle your priorities ASAP.
  • Don’t burn yourself out before your vacation.
    • There’s nothing like front-loading what you can. “But, you still need to take breaks to rest and recharge,” he advises. “If I know, I have an upcoming vacation, I might put in a couple more hours of work each day.”
  • Clean your plate, don’t add more.
    • In Max’s case, this means not taking on any new assignments until he gets back home. “I also cut back on the number of meetings I accept so that I can focus mainly on my work.”

One final suggestion. Don’t forget to schedule your vacation days.

Let clients and coworkers know you’ll be away. If you’re on vacation, they should be respectful of your absence. It is unlikely that you will be bothered by people if they know you are on vacation — especially if you have given them several weeks’ notice.

2. Don’t disappear completely.

It may make more sense to be “largely” disconnected — even if the original idea is to completely disconnect.

That doesn’t mean you should scrap out-of-office messages altogether. Still, you might want to check your email periodically. In this way, you can stay up to date on what’s happening in the office. And, this also prevents your inbox from getting too cluttered.

Additionally, some messages may require your response. For example, as a freelancer, you may want to reply to potential clients about how long you are away. If you are available, let them know. Or, perhaps you can refer them to someone who can help.

3. Schedule a buffer day.

Whenever you are considering how many leave days to take off, consider a buffer day or two as well. It’s these days that give you a chance to reorient yourself at home after your vacation. For example, when you get home, you can unpack, do laundry, bond with your pets, and go shopping for essentials.

In short, having a buffer day gives you time to unpack your bags, do your laundry, go grocery shopping, and prep your meals for the week instead of doing so after work.

4. Check your calendar.

Make sure you check your calendar the day before you return to work so you are not surprised by unforeseen meetings or tasks. If you do encounter unexpected surprises, consider whether you can handle them without too much preparation.

And, if possible, postpone them until you can contribute meaningfully.

5. Stay in stealth mode.

Your boss, colleagues, clients, and immediate reports may be aware that you’ve returned. In any case, there is no harm in waiting a couple of days before broadcasting your return to the real world.

Why? With selective stealth, you can catch up and return to normal life without being rushed or distracted.

6. Divide your first day back into time blocks.

Break up your first day back at work after vacation into blocks of time. And, don’t forget to take regular breaks. One rule of thumb is the 52/17 Rule. Here you would work for 52-minutes and then take 17-minutes.

On your first day back at work, do not feel pressured to work hard. Once you’ve returned from vacation, it’s important to give your body and mind some time to adjust. And, time blocks can do just that while also helping you focus on your priorities.

7. Get organized.

Getting organized is the first thing you should do when you return to work. For some, this might mean putting yourself in a good physical or mental state. As such, you might want to engage in some physical activity to release endorphins.

Keeping your office or workspace tidy is another suggestion. This should also be done before you leave for vacation, so you’ll be able to return to a clean work environment. If not, use your post-vacation to clean and organize this area. Or, use this as an excuse to finally spruce up your workspace.

8. Make work fun.

Use your first week back to accomplish things you actually enjoy. Maybe this could be scheduling lunch with a coworker where you exchange vacation stories. Or, you could embrace gamification in the workplace.

You can also make work fun with these practices.

  • Start the day with a playlist that gets you pumped and motivated.
  • Review your past accomplishments and track the progress of your goals.
  • Decorate your workspace.
  • Put on clothes that will make you happier and more confident at work.
  • Bring your dog to work — or let them stay with you in your home office.
  • Whenever you complete a task on your to-do list, reward yourself with a healthy snack or victory lap outside.
  • Plan an out-of-work activity with coworkers.

9. Don’t go full throttle.

You shouldn’t be too rigid about what you expect for your return to work — whether you plan to take it easy or jump right into the fire. After all, there’s a possibility that your plan for a slow and easy return may turn out to be a lot faster than you expect.

Make time for self-care, pace yourself, and ask for extensions when necessary. You will be less stressed and less overwhelmed if you are kind to yourself during this transition.

10. Take a piece of your vacation with you to work.

When you return to work after vacation, bring a souvenir that is appropriate for the office, such as a coffee mug, mouse pad, pen, desk ornament, or framed picture of your trip. It has been found that recalling vacations and other adventures can provide great pleasure, according to UC Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, Myths of Happiness.

A souvenir can bring back happy memories that can motivate you through the daily monotony of your work.

How Not to Dread Returning to Work After Time Off was originally published on Calendar.com by Albert Costill. Featured Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; Pexels.com. Thank you!

4 Ways to Use Your Online Calendar to Manage Your Kid’s Schedules

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use your online calendar

By using your online calendar, you can more easily manage your kid’s schedules. While it’s true that kids don’t have to worry about keeping a job, paying bills, or anything else, they still stay incredibly busy. School hours are long and filled with a myriad of classes and activities. Outside of school, they’ll want to pursue extracurricular activities, hang out with friends, and find time to play video games. That’s a lot of stuff to make time for. Here’s how to manage your kid’s schedules with your online calendar.

Parents and kids alike can benefit a lot from using an online calendar. This tool helps parents to keep track of each child’s schedule and help them to plan out their time more efficiently. The skills cultivated through calendar use will last a lifetime.

This guide aims to help parents manage their kids’ schedules a little better. The following are examples of how online calendar features can help organize schedules and manage time more effectively for both parent and child:

1. Differentiate Each Schedule

The first struggle with managing the schedules of multiple kids is keeping track of each of them separately. Each child falls under a different age group and will participate in various events than their siblings. Parents can easily get mixed up and feel stressed out trying to juggle everything.

Online calendars can help even the busiest of families to keep everything straight. Try using a color-coding tool to differentiate the schedule of each child. This way, a quick glance will inform you which child needs to be in which location and at what time on any given day.

Another option is to create multiple calendars, one for each kid. Then, you can share each Calendar with yourself and create different views. In addition, you can toggle each Calendar individually, so there’s less of a mess going on when you just need to review the day for one specific child.

2. Sync With Your Own Calendar

Your own schedule is essential when trying to manage the programs and plans of others, especially members of your own family. Too many parents miss a dance recital or sports championship match because they’re tied up with work or other personal commitments. You only get one chance to raise a child, so sync up your Calendar with theirs so you can be with them every step of the way.

When you sync up your personal Calendar with the one you’ve made for your kids, you can align schedules more efficiently. For example, suppose the deadline of an upcoming work project coincides with a parent-teacher conference. In that case, you can check that in advance and make necessary adjustments to get the work done early. As a result, you won’t lose a step in your professional space while still making time for your family.

Syncing with a partner’s Calendar allows for these same benefits, especially when driving commitments needs to be planned and discussed. You can even consider sharing calendar events with grandparents, friends, and other family members. This will allow them to attend events or enlist their help with things like carpooling.

3. Keep Track of Deadlines and Commitments

Adulthood is notorious for being full of deadlines and responsibilities not associated with the carefree living that is childhood. While that might be true to an extent, kids still have essential deadlines and commitments they need to keep. Whether it’s a homework assignment or a playdate with a friend, an online calendar will help kids manage all of the deadlines and commitments on their schedule.

The first reason why this is important is that it teaches your kids valuable lessons. They are expected to hold their end of a commitment, and there are consequences for failing to do so. They’ll also learn practical skills in time management and hard work when working toward deadlines they have set in their Calendar.

Just remember, they’re still kids at the end of the day. Staying focused all day is a challenge even for adults. An online calendar allows you to view their deadlines and commitments. In addition, you can lend a helping hand by setting reminders for them as the due dates approach.

4. Find the Right Balance

Kids certainly benefit from staying active. Having a lot of activities planned keeps them off of their devices and out of general trouble. However, kids can also get burnt out or overworked when they have too much on their plate. With an online calendar, you can help them find the right balance between being busy and getting adequate downtime.

One of the Calendar’s most significant features is its calendar analytics. This tool tracks every event you put into your Calendar and gets time usage data for you to look at. For example, you can see just how many hours have been spent at soccer practice. If the hours start to look overwhelming, you can start looking for a club that plays fewer games and is less demanding.

Finding the right balance with an online calendar may include intentionally planning downtime for your children. You can just as easily block off some time for reading as you can create an event for summer camp. With essential tasks like reading time (especially with very young children) and family dinners written in a calendar — you won’t overwrite them with more busy things.

Time doesn’t slow down for everyone, but you can learn to manage it better through the prolonged use of an online calendar. So start using your Calendar today, and soon enough, you’ll be a master at balancing schedules and making time for every important person, place, and thing in your life.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thanks! 

4 Ways to Use Your Online Calendar to Manage Your Kid’s Schedules was originally published on Calendar by .

Use Your Calendar App to Snag the Best Bargains

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Calendar App

Everyone at some point sees a garage sale flier and takes interest, only to forget about it minutes later. With so much going on in your life, these little bargains are easy to miss. The same goes for any kind of sale, really — thrift stores, clothing brands, bake sales, etc. Whenever you come across an exciting sale, you can integrate it seamlessly into your schedule via your calendar application.

1. Follow Public Sale Calendars

Organizations that regularly hold these events (recreation centers, religious communities, etc.) usually have a publicly-viewable calendar. This can be a physical one on a bulletin board in town or an easily-accessible digital one. The latter is more common as time goes on and is incredibly convenient to follow. Then, depending on the app, you can subscribe to be notified of new postings or upcoming events.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find a fully-integrable calendar for you to add to your app alongside your personal one. Remember that many people have similar interests as you, and you may find some helpful bargain-hunting communities online. Along with these opportunities come plenty of resources on the subject. If they have a shared calendar, they’ll do a lot of the work.

2. Note Every Sale That Catches Your Eye

Even if it draws you at first glance, not every sale will grab you enough to want to go. But you never know what you might find sitting in the back of a thrift store or outlet mall. So it’s worth taking a slight detour to see what a sale is all about, if it’s even of tangential interest. Then, whether you end up going or not, just jot down (or snap a picture of) the information for later.

Then, you can enter it into your calendar and reconsider as it approaches. Is it worth fitting the potential bargains in among your other duties? You can also take this time to look into the event a little more and get more information. If you end up removing it from your schedule, this experience will still help you learn more about bargain-hunting.

3. Separate Them Into Categories

Once your calendar starts to fill up, the different events can get confusing. Ideally, you’ll want to know which are higher priority and what types of items you’ll find just from a glance. Most calendar apps have multiple categorization options to make this happen. Depending on your platform, you can label events by type, color, tag, importance/urgency, topic, etc.

You can, for example, mark all sales of your favorite categories (like video games or cookware) as a specific color. Then, when you open your calendar for the month, you can see that color and immediately recognize what it stands for. Adding a textual tag (“church,” “garage”) can help you separate these events even further based on location or type. The more identifiable each category is, the easier it is to differentiate sales without reviewing each one visually.

4. Fit Sales Events Into Your Established Schedule

You can decide which events you want to move forward with, fitting in among your other responsibilities. Luckily, you don’t necessarily have to do the math if your calendar app has a visual editing component. You only need to click and drag things around to reschedule them in many instances. Then it won’t feel like you’re wasting time (which you aren’t!) by going to a sale — it’s already scheduled.

The mental effect of this is perhaps the most powerful part. People often don’t devote the time they need to the things they love without doing something similar. Your responsibilities are already set in stone, so there’s no reason not to fit these things around them. Scheduling free time helps balance work and life and gives it relative psychological importance for completion.

5. Get the Important Things Out of the Way First

It’s not always possible to fit the exciting things in among your more essential duties. However, it is possible to get the latter done first to open up your schedule later on. This is the objective of the MIT time management strategy — prioritize more essential tasks to complete them before moving on. This helps particularly if you get overwhelmed easily because you’ll only focus on a few tasks at a time.

As a result, you’ll be able to be more productive in completing what you need to complete. In addition, it saves mental bandwidth so you don’t burn yourself out early and time you can spend shopping afterward. The best part is lessening your anxiety when taking that time— you know you’ve already been productive today.

It sounds unnecessary to track sales on your personal calendar, but it is perfect for saving money. As long as you spend consciously, it can make a big difference in your finances. And calendar apps are genuinely well suited for such a task, so it’s a no-brainer if you’re passionate about saving. So next time you see a garage sale flier, put it in your calendar, and you may discover something wonderful.

Image Credit: by Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you!

Use Your Calendar App to Snag the Best Bargains was originally published on Calendar by Abby Miller

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments

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Prioritizing Appointments

When it comes to appointments, I adhere to one rule and one rule only. Always schedule your meetings with employees, customers, prospects, partners, and other business associates ahead of time.

The main reason? It gives you plenty of time to plan accordingly and the people you’re meeting. An appointment also ensures everyone has prevents hiccups like calendar conflicts and arriving on time. And it protects your most valuable resource; time.

Let me give you a recent example regarding that last point. I have a new client who needs to go over the project’s scope before we start. Since I typically schedule my priorities well in advance, I’m just not going to stop what I’m doing when he asks if he can call me in 10-minutes. Sorry, bro. I need more of a head’s up.

But, there’s another reason why you need to prioritize your appointments. You’re going to have a much more significant impact on everyone in your professional and personal lives.

You’ll Place Value on Your Schedule

A booked schedule can easily become ingrained into your routine. It’s one of the primary reasons we book appointments. But, sometimes, life just doesn’t go according to plan. Still, it’s essential that you respect your valuable time.

Never let anyone tell you otherwise either. Your time is valuable regardless of your profession, age, title, or how many years you’ve spent in school. Prioritizing your appointments shows you and others that you’re serious about your goals and calendar. In this way, you’re making it crystal clear that you’re not at the beck and call of others.

Whenever you receive an invitation that is not an emergency or voluntary, consider whether or not the appointment will add value to your immediate goals and needs. How will this appointment affect your progress? Will it hold you back, or worse, keep you in a holding pattern?

You can accept the appointment if it fits with your goals and needs. If it doesn’t, you may politely let it go. Or, if necessary, postpone it until you have availability.

Some Appointments Aren’t Worth Your Time

Not all appointments are created equal to build on what was said earlier. Determine which appointments in your calendar app are necessary by evaluating them.

A discovery meeting or an introductory call should it’s as important as a project wrap-up with a client you’ve worked with for years. However, putting that introductory call on hold if it interferes with keeping your client happy is more important.

You’ll Respect Other People’s Time

“Respect is a two-way street; if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.” — R.G. Risch

While you should obviously be protective of your time, you also need to be respectful of others. After all, how frustrating is it when you have a meeting at 3 p.m. only for the other attendee to arrive 15-minutes? Of, even more infuriating, they ghost you?

With that said, here are some of the best ways to show others respect. And how appointments can help.

  • Distracting them when they’re busy. I don’t know about you. But, when I’m in the zone, I hate being interrupted. It’s why I put my phone on silent. You don’t want to bother others when they’re busy, off-the-clock, or even sleeping. Instead, you can share your calendar so that you can both see when you’re available.
  • Not responding. We all know someone who never responds to our calls, texts, emails, or other forms of communication. If you’re desperate to reach this person, you may feel frustrated. Don’t be that person. Lock in a specific date and time to communicate with them.
  • Constantly arriving late. Again, time is a precious resource. If you’re scheduled to meet at a specific time, be there promptly.
  • Not preparing. There’s no excuse for this. If you know that you have a meeting next Thursday at 3 pm, then you’ve had more than enough time to prepare.
  • Rescheduling every meeting. At some point, enough is enough. Don’t let others frequently adjust their schedules because you can’t commit.

You’ll Have Enough Time to Get Everything Done

The time it takes to prepare for an appointment is often neglected. When you don’t have time to prepare, having a series of back-to-back appointments can backfire. For example, the previous appointment goes later than planned, and now you’re late for your next appointment.

Prioritizing your appointments allows you to understand each appointment’s requirements better. Rather than simply winging it, your appointment will be a success due to your active involvement. Again, being respectful by arriving on time and being prepared.

What’s more, prioritizing appointments ensures that you can still get your other work done. For instance, if you’ve had an appointment booked a month ago, then you wouldn’t have the deadline for an assignment on the same day. On the flip side, if you’re swamped, then you won’t spread yourself too thin by accepting a last-minute invite.

Achieves Work-Life Balance

Having a work-life balance can help you lead a happy, fulfilling life.

If you prioritize your appointments, you will only block out time for your most important appointments, resulting in a better work-life balance. If you have met all these appointments, you will be able to focus on the things that matter most to you in life. While this varies, this means having time for your family, friends, hobbies, and side projects.

Tips on Prioritizing Your Appointments

Here are some ways to prioritize appointments to create a productive, respectful, and impactful schedule.

  • Schedule your priorities. Using something like the Eisenhower Matrix, identify your priorities and schedule them first. What’s left can be deferred, delegated, or deleted. It’s a simple way to be aware of your availability for the upcoming week, month, or even year.
  • Use online appointment scheduling software. Did you know that 40% of appointments are booked after business hours? Using tools like Calendar automates your appointments 24/7. In addition, it eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails and phone calls. The software can also send automated reminders and confirmations. And it can even make smart scheduling suggestions with the power of machine learning.
  • Identify the purpose. Ask the purpose of the appointment in the automated message you send when someone requests an appointment. This way, you know what the meeting is about before committing to it. You can wait until a later date if it isn’t essential or if you’re extremely busy.
  • Begin to say no. Don’t hesitate to politely decline a meeting request if the meeting does not meet a goal. Also, sharing your calendar makes this easier since you can block your availability.
  • Analyze your appointments. Finally, determine how much time you spent on each appointment. So, let’s say that a typical meeting is 30-minutes. You’ll want to block out 45-minutes, 30 for the meeting itself, and 15-minutes to prepare.

This will give you an idea of how many appointments you can reasonably schedule each day.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

When Time Management Can’t Help

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When Time Management Can't Help

The concept of time management is often misunderstood and generally unsuccessful in minimizing overload and stress. Although the emphasis on efficiency is admirable — true overload is self-defeating and futile.

Initiate clear time guidelines for selecting what types of activities you won’t do, and develop processes like establishing a day when managers conduct no meetings. There is a zen to taming time, not confronting it.

Remember, there is no such thing as time in the metaverse.

The persistent sensation that there is never enough time causes much stress. We do need to learn time management to tame and manage our time. We aim to convert hour-long sessions into half-hour sprints or schedule more minor activities to reduce wasted time.

But we want to use time management as a stress reducer — not an anxiety producer. As we improve our efficiency, we may add more duties and begin to feel a more significant strain. Attack the core causes of worldly stressors: the sheer amount of work, choices, and diversions.

But time management should be used to reduce stress by freeing up time to take care of yourself. Maybe get to the gym, take a walk or have a massage. Think time management for freedom — not time management as a whip.

Time Management’s Trap

The shift to remote work after the Covid-19 epidemic created a fascinating natural experiment illustrating the time management problem. Working from home saves time (commuting and business travel), and approximately half of remote employees say they are more productive.

A study by Atlassian found that self-reported time savings and productivity increases are ineffective. The average workday has grown by 30 minutes worldwide — the reverse of results from individuals spending their time more efficiently. Complicating matters, the extra 30 minutes of work have mostly come at the price of evening leisure time.

Time management assures us that we can easily accommodate all of our tasks by being more efficient. But, like digging a hole at the beach, time management requires a lot of water to fill it. An hour on your schedule is like a signal flare proclaiming your ability to take on another project or position. So keep thinking about your ability to now claim the freedom to take care of yourself.

Time management has never been useless—productivity matters. But in a society plagued by burnout, we need techniques to reduce the anxiety producers rather than accommodate the volume.

You will want these three options to escape the trap.

1. Reduce task volume

“I’ll handle the budget update for next week’s meeting,” “I’ll pick up something for supper on the way home,” and so on.

As soon as you agree to take on an extra task — the pressure to deliver starts. Any agreement to be broken or renegotiated adds stress and guilt to the situation. The way you hold the line depends on whether your to-do list grows from assigned duties. Or does it grow things you choose to take on?

Prioritize tasks instead of time. When a supervisor asks you to accomplish something, answering with “I don’t have time for that” may seem overly abrupt. Instead, ask, “Where should I prioritize this task versus x, y, and z?” Answering in this manner achieves two goals. In the first place — this gives your superior a glimpse of what you’re working on — and sometimes lets you off the hook. Nevertheless — they set the priority, not you.

2. Reframe the dialogue from a binary option to a collaborative debate

If you want to add tasks, calendar-block first. We typically overestimate our capabilities, leading to over-exertion. Our calendars show some daylight, so we believe, “I can certainly do this by Friday.”

Then comes Friday, and we have to renegotiate.

Best advice — get your self-care actions and family obligation on your Calendar first. If others are synced to your Calendar, and you don’t want them to see your plans, frame the verbiage differently.

My weekly massage appointment says, “On point meeting with Sarah H.” I do combine the massage time with my lunch hour and pound a boiled egg down on the drive over. The point is, we’re not trying to get out of our intense, crowded, stressful work — we come back refreshed and work harder and faster. Putting in time for yourself makes it so that you don’t resent the extra half hour, hour, or longer you stay after work.

The issue is that your Calendar typically only displays synchronous work (tasks you compete with others simultaneously). Then you include meetings, phone calls, etc. Your to-dos are a list of agreements with others for asynchronous labor (tasks you do alone, not in real-time with others).

The answer? Merge your Calendar and to-do list by scheduling time for each task. Getting the complete picture of your obligations (and self-care) allows you to assess your capabilities before taking on more.

3. Decide on principles

We’ve spent the last couple of years making decisions: Do I send my kids to school? Can I visit them? Is it safe to go to work? Constantly facing difficult decisions with limited information can lead to cognitive overload. The overthinking and unknowns in cognitive overload are where mental work demands outpace our coping ability. Cognitive overload raises the chance of mistakes and leads to feelings of overwhelm.

You might start by replacing choices with absolute principles. For example, the science of weight loss management teaches us that “I won’t eat after 7 p.m.” is more successful than “I won’t nibble after 7 p.m.”

Can I have this cup of yogurt? How about some fruit?

The ultimate guideline of no eating after 7 p.m. closes the door. The choices vanish — the result is less overload.

Author and podcaster Tim Ferriss calls the overload scenario “finding the one option that eliminates 100 decision.” Ferriss set a goal of not reading any new books in 2020 — he would finish the ones he’d started. Since writers and their publicists bombarded him with dozens of new or impending books every week, this blanket principle relieved him of hundreds of book-by-book choices.

Steve Jobs famously wore the same thing (a black t-shirt and jeans) every day to avoid morning clothing selection weariness. Jon Mackey is a managing director of a Canadian business. He built his establishment with “No meetings on Fridays.” After failing to safeguard time for serious work by choosing which meetings to accept or refuse, Jon Mackey devised a weekly concentration day.

4. Minimize Distractions with Structure Not Will

Diversions prevent us from completing activities and making critical judgments. Interruptions contribute to overwhelming by preventing us from feeling like we are making headway against the causes of the pressure.

Trying to ignore digital platforms with fortitude puts you up against an army of our generation’s brightest brains. These most brilliant brains focus on exploiting what Facebook founder Sean Parker calls “vulnerabilities in human psychology” to grab your attention. When it comes to distraction, structure always wins.

Several company executives set aside time throughout the day to switch off their laptop’s Wi-Fi to concentrate. Others have scheduled 30-minute meetings for their staff to ask questions and obtain guidance. Then fewer individuals ask, “Can I grab you for five minutes?”

Cathy Engelbert, past Deloitte CEO, banned back-to-back conferences. So instead, it was a 10-minute break for SMORs or tiny minutes of reflection. This fast recovery break meant she wasn’t distracted by the following meeting or carrying over the previous meeting’s agenda.

Conclusion

The answer isn’t to become more efficient and just accept more work, choices, and diversions. Instead, reduce your workload, make choices based on principles, and create a structure to prevent distractions.

Have your new mantra be, Simplify, and make your time management choices reflect a renewed determination to take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your life.

When Time Management Can’t Help was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

Image Credit: Tara Winstead; Pexels; Thank you!

How Remote Work Is Changing How We Think About Productivity

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How Remote Work Changing How We Think About Productivity

It has been over two years since we first learned about COVID-19. There are a lot of things we will remember about those first months of the pandemic. The weird Netflix specials we binge-watched and the toilet paper we panic-bought are burned into our memories.

However, one of the most impactful things to come out of the pandemic isn’t our collection of homesewn masks or the rush of curbside pickup services extended by local businesses. What will continue to live on long after COVID-19 is remote work.

In order to keep businesses running and incomes alive, numerous companies experimented with having their employees work from home rather than in the office. This experiment ended up being incredibly successful and is a trend that many workers want to continue. Here are just some of the reasons why many are fighting to retain remote work and what we’ve learned from the experience thus far.

Happier Employees Work Harder

One of the most important points to touch on when talking about remote work is employee well-being. Simply put, working from home makes it a lot easier for workers to maintain a proper life balance. Taking away the commutes and morning prep times allows employees to spend more time with family, pursuing hobbies, or even getting the rest they need to clock in again the next day.

Happier employees tend to work harder. A positive attitude makes it easier to put your nose to the grindstone. In addition, employees who are pleased with their company’s work conditions will be more likely to give their all to the organization that has made this balance possible.

A study of employees who moved to remote work during the first six months of the pandemic showed that productivity was up considerably when compared to the same time period the year before. This came during one of the most stressful and uncertain times in modern U.S. history, so you can only imagine how beneficial remote work can be now that stability is returning somewhat.

Less Is Sometimes More

To grasp the full impact of remote work, let’s turn our focus away from the employees themselves for a moment. Productivity is part of cost management. Every task, product, and project comes with attendant costs. A productive workplace is also an efficient one, and remote work enables that more than nearly anything else.

For starters, companies can spend a lot less on daily expenses when employees work from home. Utility bills are lowered, less paper is consumed, and expensive office spaces with large floor plans are no longer necessary. Even if your employees are only working at 90% capacity in a remote setting, the significant savings you can get from making the move might be worth that and more.

With lower overhead costs, your company can sustain the same bottom line even if it brings in fewer sales or produces fewer deliverables. Yet if you work on keeping your remote workers motivated and productive, which is entirely doable, you’re likely to maintain — or even exceed — previous revenue numbers.

Convenience Is King

Another example of how less can sometimes be more is in the simple convenience of working from home. Employees often feel more comfortable working in their own space, which leads to higher productivity. A Stanford study estimated a 13% increase in productivity for remote workers when compared to productivity in the office.

A quieter, more familiar atmosphere and the ability to continue getting work done when feeling too sick to show up at the office are some of the biggest reasons for the productivity boost. It’s also nice not having to wear dress pants to every meeting and having easy access to the kitchen whenever you want a drink or snack.

Companies around the world spend billions of dollars trying to create ideal workspaces for their employees to get them excited about coming into the office to work. Even if you have a state-of-the-art coffee machine and an expansive lounge, oftentimes the same results can be replicated simply by letting employees work in their own homes.

KPIs Don’t Have to Be So Rigid

Most organizations use a collection of key performance indicators, or KPIs, to measure employee productivity. Unfortunately, many of these KPIs are a bit outdated. The shift to remote work is an opportunity to reevaluate the metrics you track in an effort to improve organizational productivity.

For example, many establishments rate their employees based on how punctual they are for shifts and how much overtime they are willing to put in. While these certainly can be signs of a good employee, they often miss the bigger picture. With remote work, time logged can be much less relevant, so measuring other KPIs will give you a better look into how your team is performing.

Instead of monitoring how much time your employees are sitting in front of a computer, track how many tasks they’ve completed or sales they’ve closed. If they’re accomplishing their regular workload and more, does it really matter when they started work or how many hours they clocked in?

Remote work certainly isn’t for everyone. Some people thrive in an office space, but many others are benefiting from remote work and the productivity boost it has delivered. Modern businesses should seriously consider remote work or hybrid work options for their teams. These flexible arrangements are likely to produce happier employees who work harder and stick around longer.

Image Credit: Ivan Samkov; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Simple Things to Do Every Evening to Make Your Mornings Easier

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4 Things Every Evening Make Mornings Easier

Mornings are supposed to be calm and relaxed, welcoming the new day ahead. And yet, more often than not, they are rushed and chaotic as you scramble to get out the door in time. Add young children into the mix as well as partners, pets, or roommates, and you have yourself a full-on nightmare each day. That’s no way to greet the new day; however, it’s a habit many of us have fallen into.

Thankfully, there are ways to prep the night ahead to set yourself up for success in the a.m. Even if you are exhausted and ready to call it quits, setting some time aside to prepare for the next day is beneficial to your mind and body. It may also shave off a few minutes of the allotted time, allowing you to have a more calm, established morning routine.

Obviously, the pandemic has changed all of our schedules. So knowing how to set yourself up for a breezy morning can be easier said than done. Not sure where to start? Read on for four simple things to do this evening to make tomorrow morning even easier. Your future self thanks you.

1. Check Your Schedule

Before you close out of work for the day, look at your calendar or schedule for the next day. See what you need to get done tomorrow and what tasks you need to carry over from today. Knowing what is ahead can ease your mind. And you can also proactively change or move meetings to accommodate your schedule better.

Of course, if you are a parent, you also need to be on top of your children’s and perhaps your partner’s schedules. For example, if your youngest child has soccer practice after school, you’ll need to decide who is in charge of dropoff and pickup. Or, if your child is on snacktime duty tomorrow, you’ll need to quickly figure out what 30 individually packaged snacks look like.

These are all items you and your partner can discuss the night before. Doing so will help alleviate any unnecessary tension in the morning.

2. Plan and Pack Up

Planning and packing up considers all things that you need to either wear or bring to work tomorrow. This includes figuring out what you will wear by checking the weather forecast. Laying out your clothes or hanging them on one hanger can save precious time getting ready. While you’re at it, put your shoes by the door as well.

You’ll also want to pack your bag, ensuring you have all your devices and chargers at the ready. How many times have you left home without your laptop charger? Guilty. Once your bag is ready, place it by the door, so it’s one less thing to think about. The same goes for any of your children’s backpacks.

3. Do Your Food Prep

The worst time to think about what’s for lunch is in the morning when you’re feeling rushed. Leaving your food prep to the morning is also another way for you to wind up just getting another overpriced takeout lunch again. While you’re cleaning up dinner, go ahead and make your lunch and put it in the fridge. It can be helpful to designate one shelf in the refrigerator to everything that you — or your family — need to grab in the morning. No lunch or water bottle left behind with this trick.

This can also be the time when you prep your breakfast. Smoothies, chia pudding, and oatmeal are all excellent grab n’go morning noshes. If you’re a coffee drinker, now is the time to either pre-set your machine or at the very least pull out your to-go mug and grind the beans. Meal planning the night before can help save you time and money. It can also be a healthy jumpstart, knowing that you have homemade (or at least home prepped) meals waiting for you when you rise.

4. Tidy Up

Ok, cleaning is likely the last thing you want to do after a long day. That said, waking up to a filthy or messy house is the last thing you want to see when you open your eyes in the morning. So doing a quick tidying up the night before can be beneficial to how you start the next day. It helps close out the day and transition yourself out of work mode into nighttime mode.

We aren’t saying you need to pull out the vacuum cleaner, per-see. But doing small tasks like wiping down the counters can mean smooth sailing in the a.m. If you live with others, you can make this a family chore or a roommate task. Ask everyone to go around the house and pick up any loose clothes off the floor or help load the dishwasher. It’ll take less time when everyone is involved, and maybe a chance for the mess to not happen in the first place.

Takeaways

A productive, less stressful morning starts the night before. Whether you are a morning person or not, these four tips will help you feel better and calmer each morning. By checking your schedule and planning ahead, you’ll know what to expect and how to approach the next day.

And by doing all of your meal prep and tidying your space, you will fall asleep knowing you really have to grab and go before heading out the door. So start implementing these tips today and start welcoming more calmer mornings.

4 Simple Things to Do Every Evening to Make Your Mornings Easier was originally published on Calendar by Choncé Maddox.

Image Credit: Lisa Fotios; Pexels; Thank you!

Never Tell People You’re ‘Too Busy’ (But Show Them That Your Time Matters)

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Never Tell People Too Busy Show Them Your Time Matters

As a business owner, your time is always in short supply and you may feel like you’re constantly busy. It’s a struggle to fit every meeting, deadline, phone call, and commitment into your online calendar. That’s even before you make time for family and personal endeavors.

Part of this balancing act involves dealing with the people around you. You never want them to feel like you’re too busy to be an effective leader, business owner, parent, or friend. Giving them this impression can hurt your relationships, reputation, and business.

Managing your time while still showing others that their time matters to you is a challenge, but it’s not an impossible one. Here are a few methods you can implement to find a balance and keep everyone — including yourself — happy:

Communicate Your Priorities

Make sure anyone who wants to meet with you knows your top priorities. This will set accurate expectations for the future about how you use your time. For example, if you explain to your clients that your weekends are reserved for family activities, they’ll be more likely to respect your boundaries during those days.

Your responsibility is to then reciprocate that respect for your work connections. Intentionally set aside time where you’re able to devote your attention to work meetings and client phone calls without interruption. This way you’ll always be able to address your clients’ and colleagues’ needs as they come up without letting work spill over into your other time commitments.

Make Efforts to Reschedule

When you have to decline events, which will happen on occasion, make an effort to reschedule if possible. This will show others that their time and concerns are still important to you.

If you need to cancel a scheduled meeting, be the one to take the initiative when rescheduling. Words are empty if they’re not backed by actions. By reaching out with your updated availability, the person you’re meeting with will know that you actually want to meet with them and respect the time they’re setting aside for you.

The biggest problem with rescheduling is trying to resync calendars. This can be easily bypassed by using scheduling links. You can send over a link containing your availability in a single email. The other party can then select an available time slot to reschedule the meeting. No extensive back-and-forths are required.

Focus on Shorter Engagements

Instead of continuing to turn down meetings and commitments because you’re too busy, try focusing on shorter engagements. They will take a smaller portion of your day while still allowing you to touch base with the many important people you need to interact with.

Those long, weekly meetings can be replaced by emails and quick phone calls interspersed throughout your day. The best part is that you don’t have to tell anyone that you’re taking this new approach because you’re feeling too busy to commit to large time blocks. All they’ll see is that you’re committed to reaching out regularly and making an effort to respect their time by being brief and direct.

Improve Your Time Management

If you truly value your personal time and that of others, you’ll make a greater effort to improve your time management. Few people are actually using all of their time effectively. There are many improvements you can likely make that will open up more time for other people.

For example, you might have missed the last team brainstorming meeting because you had a few conflicting deadlines to address. How many of these conflicts could have been avoided through better time management? It might be time to start time blocking or looking for ways to fight procrastination so that this doesn’t occur in the future.

Recognize When Being Busy Isn’t Enough

An important side note is that there is a key difference between being “busy” and being productive. Being busy isn’t always a good thing, especially if you’re not accomplishing much. Not only will busywork make it more difficult to show that your time matters, but it can also lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety.

Those are good reasons to begin prioritizing your regular task list. Some commitments, such as meetings with tenured clients or nightly dinners with family, will receive higher priority. Conscious prioritization will help you to decide which tasks and events you can justify putting off or rescheduling and which ones deserve your attention the most each day.

Of course, this doesn’t mean those low-priority tasks should be completely forgotten. You can’t get out of cleaning out your inbox forever. What’s important is not allowing these smaller tasks to derail everything on your schedule, especially those responsibilities that are of greater magnitude.

Respecting your time and the time of others is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner in any industry. Keep working on it, and everything from project management to client retention will become easier for you.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!

Why You Should Use Scheduling Software

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Why Should Use Scheduling Software

Using scheduling software improves time management. But not everyone is making use of this new technology. When you don’t utilize your time management software — it’s similar to having a new Ferrari, but driving it barely five miles under the speed limit.

To unlock a sports car’s ultimate speed, you must understand its engine. You must learn software advantages and how to leverage the power it has to boost your productivity. You’re only getting surface value for your software if you’ve looked at it solely like the Ferrari above — and only been interested in the paint and leather seats. Change how you think about your scheduling software.

Anticipate What Your Software Can Do for Productivity

Living in the moment is exciting but not very productive when you’re thinking about software. So you need to plan if you want to maximize your time using the software. Ask any industry leader or successful entrepreneur how much planning goes into their daily lives — and the same goes with using a piece of software.

You should plan daily, weekly, and monthly by changing your schedule program’s perspective. Above all, with daily planning, you may schedule challenging tasks at times when you know you are more productive. For example, plan all meetings and deadlines weekly. Monthly planning allows you to review your own KPIs and prepare for a more productive month. Meanwhile, your scheduling software lets you and others cooperate and plan together when you all have open times.

Leaders must juggle several jobs, duties, and deadlines. Your scheduling software will also assist in decreasing manager-team misunderstanding and miscommunication. For example, X’s new blog post is due tomorrow morning, with editing by an in-house editor at the end of the day — is that on the editing schedule? You need to have a spot to manage your team’s metrics for your scheduling software. He says the metrics help team leads and managers plan their time for each development cycle.

Personal-Professional Balance

Even if your profession is vital to your lifestyle, your family and yourself should always come first. According to a Deloitte study,  organizations that promote work-life balance see double the employee productivity. Therefore, the most excellent scheduling software encourages work-life balance.

Set aside time for family. Schedule dates with your spouse and your children’s athletic events and recitals. These events should be non-negotiable, and you may arrange them using the same tools you use for your business.

The balance between work and life is much easier to accomplish. Use scheduling strategies that help you maximize your productivity while on the clock. For example, the Pomodoro technique divides work into little blocks with brief pauses in between. Using this scheduling strategy will help you focus better during the day, do more things in less time, and take less work home.

Color Coding for Geeks — Great at-a-Glance Scheduling

A unique color-coding system helps you to comprehend your itinerary quickly. Each item on your timetable can be assigned a different color. Red can be used to highlight important client meetings. For example, yellow can represent longer-term tasks like planning or reporting. Blue may stand for family time, personal obligations, etc. To complete activities faster, you’ll want to establish your schedule’s priority. There are many ways to accomplish this.

Visual cues can help people understand information faster, so go ahead and be colorful. Once you learn your color code, your daily schedule will inform you where and when you need to be. For example, a red light indicates a board meeting that you must prepare for. Consequently, no matter what the event is, a sliver of blue at the end of your schedule will remind you that you can’t work late tonight because you have a family event.

Set Alerts on Scheduling Software

Scheduling an event isn’t always enough — you’re not using scheduling software to its full potential if you don’t set reminders for important events. Therefore, setting up reminders for each meeting or appointment will help you keep track of your schedule. Remember to set an alarm for your travel time as well.

Your reminders will serve as a backup if you forget something or misplace your paper notes. There’s nothing worse than missing a critical meeting or giving the incorrect impression — these types of things damage careers. Use your scheduling program to avoid this.

Reminders can also help you prepare for upcoming occasions. Consequently, a half-hour notice before a big presentation provides you time to gather your thoughts and organize your materials. You should know yourself well enough to see if you need more time than a half hour. That’s all you will need if you have prepared the night before and have everything ready to go for that meeting.

Others to Contact in Scheduling Software

Preparing and attending a meeting where the other party does not show is counterproductive. Both parties must agree on a schedule. Even if you do everything perfectly —  there are times when someone may be late or not show up for a meeting. All your planning and organizing will be for naught.

To avoid this, send reminders to folks with whom you have made plans. Most scheduling software allows you to set up reminder messages.

Leaders can create the perfect reminder once and use it for all future engagements for everyone on their team.

People won’t have to worry about colleagues or clients skipping meetings or writing personalized emails every time. They may also share a meeting agenda or a scheduling link to improve collaboration — and the same process and work while managing your hybrid teams’ hybrid work schedules.

We need to cease utilizing our scheduling software for only the basics. Instead, leaders should use this software tool’s array of valuable features to boost productivity companywide.

Start today to make the most of your time. Remember that using your scheduling software — “now” — spelled backward means you’ve “won.”

Why You Should Use Scheduling Software was originally published on Calendar by Choncé Maddox.

Image Credit: Vlada Karpovich; Pexels; Thank you!

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