Entrepreneurs and business professionals have a lot on their plates. There are forms to sign, meetings to attend, and a work-life balance that’s always teetering on edge. But, while the focus of business is almost always money at the end of the day, the real currency for businesspersons is time. The adage “time is money” is more true today than ever before.
If you can genuinely harness your time, there’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish. However, mastering time management is easier said than done. A lot of effort is required to manage time effectively, as well as a solid desire to structure your life and business with extra precision.
To satisfy the time management needs of every person possible, the calendar in its physical and digital forms was made. By learning how to manage a calendar properly, you can make huge strides forward in your personal time management. Here is a beginner’s guide to help you get started:
Aim for Purpose and Results
When it comes to time management, everything you do should be intentional. Don’t just fill your calendar for the sake of looking busy. You will find a lot more success by aiming for a specific purpose and focusing on results.
One way to ensure that your scheduling remains intentional is to follow a tried-and-true planning method from a time management expert. For example, the Rapid Planning Method from renowned motivational speaker Tony Robbins is crafted with intentional time management in mind.
Use an Organizational System
Once you have a good idea of how you want to use your calendar to improve time management, you need to keep it nice. If you purchase a three-ring binder but fail to follow an organizational pattern, you’re not going to get much value out of it. However, if you’re utilizing a system by using things such as tabs and dividers, you’ll find the binder to be quite useful.
Your online calendar of choice will have various options and features you can use to stay organized. One of the most common and effective options available is color-coding. This will change how your events appear based on how you want to organize them. For example, you can match work events with your company’s logo to easily differentiate them from the rest of your schedule.
The great thing about online calendars is that they are highly flexible. You can use your own combination of color-coding and organize in a way that works specifically for you. Key points to remember are not doing too much and using a practical and memorable system. Too many colors can be challenging to keep track of.
Take Advantage of Recurring Events
As you’re setting up your calendar, note any repeat events you see. For example, you might have a team huddle every Monday morning or attend a spin class on Friday nights. Instead of manually inputting every single one of these events into your calendar, you can take advantage of recurring events.
When you set a recurring event, it pops up in your calendar at an automatic interval. This can be done for monthly, weekly, or even daily activities. This will save you a lot of time when planning out your schedule, as you don’t have to input the same event over and over again manually. This also will ensure that you never accidentally miss an event because you didn’t happen to add it to your calendar once.
Recurring events are also helpful for scheduling routines. You don’t always need to put a morning routine into your calendar, but doing so for a few weeks can help you adapt to a new schedule. For instance, if you’re moving from day shifts to night shifts, you might want to plan out the specifics in your calendar with recurring events until you’re used to the new schedule.
Learn How to Batch
At this point, you should have most of your calendar squared away. You can now start working on fine-tuning your calendar to make it work even better for you. One such thing you can learn to tune up your calendar is how to batch tasks. This will condense your calendar, making it appear less cluttered while still getting just as much done.
Most people batch tasks by starting with a to-do list. This is separate from the schedule that ends up in their calendar. Once you create a to-do list, you can organize each task by function and priority. This will give you batches of tasks that can be added to larger time blocks in your calendar instead of individual pieces that have you bouncing all over the place.
Don’t Forget Buffer Time
If you’re still concerned about how to fit everything into your busy schedule without overlapping, be sure not to forget about buffer time. Adding buffer time to all of your events can be a daily lifesaver. More often than not, you’ll be glad you included buffer time even if you didn’t need it.
Always leave some amount of time in between your meetings and events. For example, if you have back-to-back meetings, you might try and schedule them on the hour to fit them nicely into your calendar. Including 15 minutes of buffer time in between meetings will protect you if one meeting happens to run long and threatens to make you late for the next.
If you don’t need to use the buffer time, you can always have a backup plan for how you can use that time. For example, you can do some bonus prep as you move on to your next meeting, take care of some emails, or outline your next blog post. Of course, none of these tasks are urgent, but you might as well take advantage of any opportunities you find.
Who knew that something as simple as a Calendar could be used for so much. Simply using a calendar regularly is already a step in the right direction. Add these details along the way, and time management will begin to come naturally to you, and there won’t be anything you can’t achieve.
Image Credit: Ono Kosuki; Pexels; Thank you!