At this point, most of us are using some sort of digital calendar to organize our lives. It could be your work calendar, where you keep track of meetings and appointments. Or, your whole life could be in your calendar, and if it’s not there, it doesn’t exist. In all likelihood, you fall somewhere in between. It’s a helpful tool, but you’re probably not using it to its full potential.
While you can get by with your calendar’s basic functions — but there are ways to level up. Less familiar tools and functions may be the answer to a scheduling problem you’ve been facing. There’s a whole range of features and tricks that can transform your calendar into a powerhouse of productivity. In this article, you’ll learn about some calendar secrets that will elevate your scheduling game.
The first step to improving your scheduling game is to let your calendar do the work for you. Automating steps in the process of scheduling meetings and appointments can save you time and prevent errors. Online scheduling tools like Calendar, Google Calendar, and Outlook offer smart scheduling. Using this feature eliminates the need for a back-and-forth to schedule meetings.
Instead, these systems scan your existing appointments to find availability. Then, those who want to schedule with you are provided a link to a list of open times. They can pick the one that works for them, and the meeting is scheduled. It will be added to your calendar, preventing double-booking even if you plan multiple meetings.
Removing the possibility of human error means you’ll be working with a more accurate calendar. You’ll get a better idea of what your “normal” day actually looks like and know exactly when you’re available. You’ll also gain time back in the days you typically spend trying to coordinate with others. By releasing some calendar tasks to automation, you’re gaining a lot of control.
You will be more productive when you feel more in control of your time and its use. Expand your calendar use beyond simply managing appointments. Instead, make it an effective tool for managing all of your time, especially at work. Many online calendars offer a version of undisturbed time for when you need to concentrate on tasks.
For example, Focus Time in Google Calendar gives you the option to mute chat notifications and automatically decline meetings. By eliminating these distractions, you are creating a more productive headspace where you can focus on work. You’re also communicating to others that you are unavailable, reducing the likelihood of interruptions. Seeing a fuller calendar may take some time, but the improved productivity will be worth it.
Essentially, you’re engaging in time blocking by scheduling yourself undisturbed time. This practice divides your day into blocks of time with designated uses. These blocks may be for meetings, focused work, personal time, or anything else happening regularly in your life.
If you choose to go the time-blocking route with your calendar, ensure you are using all the tools available. A simple but underutilized feature is the ability to change the color of events on your calendar. Most of us tend to ignore the option for different event colors once we set our default color. However, color-coding your calendar can make it more functional and easier to manage.
To make the most of color coding, designate specific colors for each category of how you use your time. What the categories are is entirely up to you and what makes sense for your life. If you’re stuck, consider starting with meetings, appointments, focus time, and personal time. You could also add categories for volunteer work, holidays, or vacations.
Once your system is set, choose the correct corresponding color when creating an event. You may also need to go back into previously created events and change their colors. When viewing your calendar, you’ll be able to get a quick, visual overview of your day, week, or month. You’ll get a general idea of how you use your time and if the distribution is what you want it to be.
If you are interested in more than a general overview, calendar analytics could be a good thing for you to explore. Calendar analytics provide deeper insights into how you are using your time. You can precisely see how much time you spend on things like meetings or other appointments.
In a scheduler like Calendar, these analytics are more specific. They include information about particular types of meetings, in-office time, and other tasks on your calendar. You can identify opportunities to reclaim your time and restructure your calendar with the insights provided. Similar features exist in other schedulers and can show you who and where you spend most of your time with.
With all that information available, it’s easier to see how different schedule adjustments would affect things overall. You may realize you need more desk time. Or your weekly stand-up that’s only supposed to last 30 minutes takes an hour. Armed with this data, you can streamline your schedule. The more information you put on your calendars, the more accurate and helpful the analytics will be.
Many of us keep information in multiple calendars, usually due to using one platform at work and another at home. Or, you may have chosen to keep separate calendars for business and personal matters. While that may have served your needs initially, as online calendars have advanced, combining them probably makes more sense.
Doing so will give you a whole picture of what you have going on and when you have free time. Most apps now have features that allow you to merge calendars from a variety of platforms. They will be combined into one, streamlining your scheduling process. While most apps will integrate fairly seamlessly, be aware of any inconsistencies. Some calendars may not sync instantly, resulting in a slight delay when things are added.
As long as you know those potential issues, they shouldn’t cause any trouble. They’ll cause less trouble than managing multiple calendars day-to-day. With everything in one place, you’ll be less likely to double-book yourself or miss something. You’ll have created a more streamlined scheduling process, making your life easier overall.
Making your life easier by removing things you must do or remember is a crucial feature of many scheduling tools. This is the case for the variety of reminder tools you can find in many calendars. Depending on your needs, reminders can be used for meetings, appointments, or even tasks.
When you create an event in most calendars, you’re given the option to set reminders. Typically, they are automatically set with default settings. Instead of leaving them as they are, try setting reminders for when they make the most sense for you. Maybe you need an hour reminder and a 15-minute reminder. For a significant engagement, you may want a reminder the day before to ensure you have adequate time to prepare. Experiment with what works best for you.
As you learn what event reminders work best for your lifestyle, consider also implementing task reminders. Many calendars have features allowing you to use them as a to-do list, assigning tasks to specific days and times. Ensure these tasks get done on time by setting reminders and letting your calendar remember for you.
Discovering new ways to use everyday tools is exciting. While you use your calendar daily, there may be “secret” features you may not have tried yet. You’ll significantly improve your time management by using all the available features your chosen calendar system has. Experiment with some of the tools listed here and elevate your scheduling game.
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