Tips and Tricks for managing your Calendar like a Pro

Keeping your calendar organized isn’t always as simple as scheduling meetings and making sure there are no overlaps. It’s helpful to use certain tips and tricks to keep that calendar and day running smoothly, especially if you’re trying to juggle multiple tasks and meetings and you know some unexpected changes might pop up along the way.

Calendar management is an art form—and almost a job—in itself. It requires constant care and maintenance. Otherwise, you could end up swamped with tasks and devoid of time to focus on truly valuable projects and events. That’s where this blog comes in. To help you create your calendar efficiently, we’ll dive into tips and tricks for making the most of your daily, weekly, and monthly schedules.

Don’t use a One-Size-Fits-all Meeting Length

When planning your meetings, it can be tempting to arbitrarily set them for 30 minutes or an hour. But there’s merit in being more precise with your scheduling. If you take even a few minutes to consider exactly how long a meeting should take, you could save critical time on the day of.

For example, if you’d usually schedule a phone meeting for 30 minutes, but you know you can accomplish the task in 15 minutes, set it for 15 instead. Then, hold yourself and your meeting partner to it. You could use that extra 15 minutes to catch up on emails, organize notes from the meeting, or even grab a quick snack. After all, your time is precious and every minute counts.

Set Gaps for Transitions

When managing your calendar, you might find yourself setting tasks and meetings back-to-back. It might feel like you’re packing as much into your day as possible. But avoid the urge to do this. You’ll thank yourself later if you create gaps in your schedule for transitions between appointments and projects.

Unexpected commitments pop up, urgent emails need to be answered, the dog needs to be taken for a walk, or you just need to take a break for a minute. These are all reasons to schedule some wiggle room for yourself. Otherwise, you could end up running behind and finishing your day much later than you’d hoped.

Schedule Reminders

If you’re using scheduling software, you can set reminders to give you a digital nudge when you need to finish a task. Just click on an empty spot in your calendar like you’re creating a new event but choose “reminder” instead. You’ll then receive a notification at that time you selected, and you can mark the task as completed once you’re finished.

Color-code your Calendar

Categorizing and color-coding are awesome tools. Using them makes it easy to segment and identify internal meetings from client ones and arrange your day.  At a glance, you’ll have a great overview of your commitments and an easy way to filter what you’re doing over a day, a week, or a month.

Batch Meetings

If you’ve got a bunch of meetings, then bite the bullet and schedule them all in a day and do emails in between.  That’ll give you a bigger block of free time for another day.  Sure, it can be brutal, and I wouldn’t make a habit of it, but it can be a good strategy if you need to claim some time in your calendar.

For example, would you rather have 3, 1-hour meetings on Wednesday and 2, 1-hour meetings on Friday OR 5, 1-hour meetings on Wednesday and Friday Free? Keep in mind that if you schedule yourself back-to-back, it’s wise to keep an eye on your clock or set reminders to ensure you stay focused and finish on time.

Review again and Again

Review your calendar at the start of every week.  See what meetings you have and list any action items and preparation you need to take care of.  If they’re important, block out time to make them happen.

Then review again. Daily.

It’s wise to do this first thing in the morning as things can quite literally change overnight.  Then, have another scan about 30 minutes before you finish up your day to see what you got done (and what I didn’t). Also, use that time to take a peek at the next day so I can get a head start.

Calendar Audit

Ultimately, the best calendar management resource you can learn from is yourself. You know best what you need to plan a successful day or week. And you have the power to learn from your successes and mistakes–using them to optimize going forward.

That’s why it’s important to audit your past calendars in regular intervals, such as each month or quarter. You can conduct a monthly audit in four simple steps:

  1. Write down your biggest priorities from the past month. What would you have ideally accomplished with your time?
  2. Audit your past month’s calendar. Write down the activities you actually engaged in.
  3. Bucket those activities into your priority categories. What percentage of the time did you actually spend working towards those priorities? You can also bucket activities into categories like “very important”, “less important”, and “worthless”.
  4. Set new goals for next month. How much time would you like to spend working towards each priority? Which time-wasting activities can you cut out?

More helpful Tips from ebs/Growth

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