As a business professional, it’s imperative that you successfully manage your calendar. If you don’t have control of your calendar — you don’t have control of your life. Loss-of-life-control shows up in the form of missed deadlines and the anxiety that comes from constantly having to play catch-up. Tasks that should have already been completed become overwhelming, and that isn’t even mentioning the rescheduling conflicts and the resulting decrease in productivity. Here are 101 calendar hacks for the business professional to leverage in 2020.
The confidence that calendar-control enables a business professional will shine through in everything that touches the quality of your life.
The good news is that you can use the following 101 calendar hacks — and gain all of the advantages you are seeking.
1. Identify your goals.
Before you start filling your calendar up, you need to determine both your short and long term business goals. Doing so ensures that you’re protecting your time from unnecessary activities. For example, attending a networking event can help grow your business. But, this is only true if you’re collecting leads and mingling with prospective clients.
2. Track your time.
Knowing how you spend your time is essential. It identifies where you’re wasting time throughout the day and how long it usually takes you to complete specific activities. With this information, you can set aside the appropriate time for your daily actions. In other words, you’ll no longer under-or-overestimate the time needed to respond to emails, network, handle administrative tasks, or meet with others.
One way to track your time is to carry around a notebook and write down everything you do in a day, as well as the time needed for each entry. Ideally, you should do this for a couple of weeks — some people suggest up to 3 months for a more accurate picture.
Another option is to use time tracking software. Tools like Toggl and RescueTime run in the background of your computer or smartphone and track how long you’re working, browsing social media, or checking your inbox.
3. Paper or electronic?
Some people still prefer to use a paper calendar since it reduces electronic notifications and provides a visual reminder of your day. On the flipside, electronic calendars can be accessed anywhere, anytime. They can also be more easily shared and integrated with most of the other tools you use. It’s even acceptable to use both.
Do your research and experiment with which type of calendar works best for you. Seriously. There’s no right or wrong calendar. As long as your calendar has the features you need and keeps you organized, it will do the job.
4. Know your calendar in-and-out.
Once you’ve found your calendar, go ahead and get to know it like the back of your hand. Most calendars are straightforward and easy to use. However, each calendar has its own unique set of features that can assist you in getting the most from consistent usage.
- The Ultimate Guide to Google Calendar
- Making the Most of Office 365 Calendar
- Apple Calendar Guide
- Yahoo Calendar Productivity Tip Guide
- Calendar Management
5. Start early.
If you want to stay ahead of your calendar, then wake-up earlier in the morning. Getting up early doesn’t mean you have to set your alarm for five a.m. But, you should get up a little earlier so that you can get your day started on the right foot.
Personally, I rise before everyone else in my home. I then spend this quiet time cleaning out my inbox, exercising, and reviewing my calendar for the day so that I’m ready to tackle it head-on in for the day. This is one of my top calendar hacks for getting more done.
6. Review your calendar frequently.
No. You don’t have to check your calendar every 5-minutes. But, you should get into the habit of frequently reviewing your calendar.
Ideally, you should review your previous weeks’ calendar to see how you spent your time and what you accomplished. Friday afternoons or Sunday evenings are perfect times to do this. Then, plan ahead for next week. If there were any unproductive tasks or meetings, you could remove them from your schedule.
7. Book your priorities.
The average day is hectic and overwhelming. Adding everything that needs to get done only adds to this problem. Instead of scheduling automatic actions, like brushing your teeth, only book your priorities.
Identifying your priorities can also be an issue, we’ll discuss later how you can prioritize, but in most cases, these are the handful of things that absolutely have to get done today. No expectations. To ensure that you can get around to your priorities, limit them to the three most important tasks (MITs). If you knock them out, awesome. You can now start focusing on tomorrow’s MITs.
8. Don’t rely on to-do-lists.
According to research conducted by Kevin Kruse, “Ultra-productive people don’t work from a to-do list, but they do live and work from their calendar.” That may sound counterproductive, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Lengthy to-do-lists can be intimidating. They also don’t account for time and don’t help you determine your priorities.
That’s not to say that you can’t create a to-do-list — there are moments when you need to get these things out of your head. It means that you should convert that list into calendar entries. Doing so will determine your priorities and block out the time needed to complete them.
9. Calendar Hack; Establish a routine.
A daily routine gives you a chance to prepare and plan in advance. It also keeps you on track and provides structure. Most importantly, if something isn’t in your schedule, then you don’t do it.
Everyone has their preferences for creating a routine based on their peak productivity times and priorities. So, go ahead and tinker with a routine until you’ve found one that suits you well. Also, expect your routine to change throughout the year as your priorities vary.
10. Have a master calendar.
Even if you decide to create several different calendars, you should also have a master calendar. A master calendar contains all of your most important tasks or events in your professional and personal life. A master calendar can help prevent scheduling conflicts, like booking a doctor’s appointment after you’ve committed to meeting with a client.
11. Create multiple calendars.
Even though you have a master calendar, you also don’t want it to get cluttered and unmanageable. That’s why every major calendar platform permits you to create as many calendars as you like. There could be one for work, another for your family, and calendars devoted to birthdays, social media, etc.
A shareable calendar is a must-have feature when selecting an online calendar. The main reason is that when others need to find out when you’re available, they can quickly see when you’re free or not. As a result, it eliminates those back-and-forth communications between you, your colleagues, customers, and family.
13. Sync your schedule across the board.
Do you use Google Calendar for work and Apple Calendar at home? Is the calendar installed on your desktop and smartphone? Are you integrating your calendar with other tools, such as scheduling appointment software?
If so, you need to make sure that they’re all synched. It’s the only way to be sure that your calendar is up-to-date across the various calendars, devices, and platforms that you use daily. When not synched, it can lead to scheduling conflicts like double-bookings.
14. Color-code your calendar.
Remember that master calendar you made? To differentiate between all the responsibilities you have going on in your life, use different colors for specific tasks and events. For example, blue could represent your social media activities, red for work-related tasks, and green for appointments.
15. Create recurring events and appointments.
Let’s say that you meet with a customer once a month or meet with your team every two weeks. Most online calendars give you the option to mark these as recurring when creating the event for the first time. Now you don’t have to spend the time creating these entries over and over again.
What happens when an appointment has to be rescheduled? Highlight the specific event and slide it over to the new date and time. It may only shave off a couple of minutes. But, like creating recurring events, it saves you from making a new calendar entry every time you need to adjust your schedule.
17. Plan ahead by energy levels.
We all have different times throughout the day when we’re most productive. It is said that productivity is based around ultradian rhythms and explains why some are morning people and others night owls. Track when you have the most focus and energy so that you can plan accordingly.
For example, if you’re a morning person, then you would want to put in your calendar tasks that require the most concentration. If you’re a night owl, then you would work on these activities later in the day.
18. Own your time.
Let’s say that you have to drive half an hour for a meeting. On top of the time blocked out for the actual appointment, you also need to mark that driving time as either “busy” or “unavailable.” If not, you may accidentally schedule something else that may cause you to run late.
19. Schedule breaks.
For as helpful technology can be, it’s also created a culture where we’re expected to be available 24/7. The fact is, our brains can only focus for so long. Additionally, we also only have so much mental energy. That’s why it’s essential to strategically plan breaks throughout the day so we can rest and recharge.
20. Find your preferred calendar hack view.
As you were tinkering around with your calendar app, you probably noticed that you could change the view. Typically, you can alternate between day, week, month, or year. Some calendars also let you customize these views, like using a work schedule view, or a schedule that shows a two-week view.
Find out which view is most effective for you. Personally, I believe less is more. If I have my entire month calendared, I may get distracted by what I have to do three weeks from now instead of what needs to get done today.
21. Create a zero-based calendar.
As explained in an article on Inc.com, a “zero-based calendar approach is essentially the principle of accounting for every hour in your day, leaving no blank space on your calendar or agenda.” The idea here is that if something isn’t on your calendar, then it’s not worthy of your time. And, as an added perk, it can help you focus on what matters most and how you spend your days.
22. Schedule your days into chunks.
Also known as time blocking, this is where you set specific chunks of time to certain tasks. For instance, you could create an hour block from 8 am to 9 am to respond to emails and return phone calls. Your next block, from 9 am to 11 am, would be used for your most important work for the day.
There’s no right or wrong to use time blocks. The point is that it encourages you to focus on one thing at a time. It also notifies others when you’re busy and free during the day.
23. Give each day a theme.
You may not be aware of this. But, different activities involve different parts of the brain. Constantly switching back-and-forth is time-consuming and drains your mental energy because you’re fundamentally shifting gears.
The best way to combat that is by assigning each day a theme. For example, Mondays could be for your creative work. Tuesdays would be reserved for networking and meetings — Wednesdays for marketing.
You may not squeeze these activities into an entire day. But, you should make it a point to spend a chunk of the day to the theme. For example, you may not have any meetings on Tuesday mornings, but your afternoon is. You could then spend that time prepping or taking care of some administrative work.
24. Use appointment slots.
Some calendars, specifically Google Calendar, have a useful feature called Appointment Slots. It allows you to set aside a timeframe and break it up. For example, if you block out an hour to make phone calls, then you could split that into six calls that last 10 minutes. It’s an effective way to spend just the right amount of time of specific actions.
25. Optimize notifications and reminders.
Online calendars will notify you when it’s time for an event. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to change the default setting. So, if a meeting starts at 2 pm, you’ll receive a reminder at that exact time. That doesn’t give you much notice.
Think about how much time you need before an event kicks off. You may need a 24-hour reminder to send out a meeting agenda. Perhaps having a 30-minute head’s before that meeting would give you the opportunity to prep.
26. Add another time zone.
For those of you working with people in different time zones, this is essential. No longer do you have to think about what time it is where your teammate resides when planning a meeting. By adding another time zone to an event, it will adjust to everyone’s invite and eliminate any confusion.
27. Batch similar items together.
As already discussed, different activities use different parts of the brain. By grouping similar tasks together, you’re saving time and reserving your brain’s energy. For example, this was one of several articles I had to write. Instead of scattering them throughout the week, I added them to my calendar on the same day.
28. Always question time requests.
Whenever someone asks you to meet or help them out, don’t instinctively say “yes.” Sounds a bit selfish. But, if you don’t have the availability or the request doesn’t provide you with any value, then your calendar will be jam-packed with other people’s priorities.
29. You can say “no” — even if you’ve already said “yes.”
Just because something is in your calendar doesn’t mean that it can’t be rescinded. Maybe another activity popped-up that deserves your attention. Or, perhaps you realized that it’s not in your best interest to have that lunch meeting. Remember, it’s your time, and you can spend it, however, you like. But, as a professional, make sure that you give the other party adequate notice.
30. Don’t let those extra fields go to waste.
Whenever you create a new event, you’ll notice that there are additional fields, such as a phone number for a call conference or description. Don’t leave those areas blank! Add as much relevant information you need to make the event run more smoothly.
31. Eliminate back-to-back appointments.
It’s tempting to squeeze in as many meetings as possible in a day. As mentioned several times already, you still need time to travel, decompress, or prepare for the next appointment. Give yourself a break in between these appointments so that you’re always on time and refreshed for the next appointment.
32. Build-in time buffers.
Did you give theme days a shot and dedicated one day to meetings? If so, don’t forget to add buffer time between each meeting. The last thing you want is to rush from one thing to the next or arrive late. At least give yourself 30-minutes for travel, grabbing a snack, or preparing for the next appointment.
33. Cut back on your commitments.
This suggestion may sound a bit obvious. But you’d be surprised at how many people always spread themselves too thin. So, the most natural solution is to reduce the number of your obligations. For instance, do you need every local networking event in your area? Probably not.
Again, if something isn’t helping you reach your goals, it’s time to delete it off your calendar.
34. Attach a map and agenda.
Here’s a cool feature that online calendars provide, the ability to add a location. Is that groundbreaking? Not really. But, now you and the other meeting attendees have a map to the location directly in your invite.
Most calendars also allow you to add attachments, such as an agenda. Have the time, location, and the purpose of a meeting listed in a calendar may not sound revolutionary. However, that information ensures that everyone on the list has all the resources needed before the start of the event. It also gives them a chance to prepare since they know exactly what to expect.
35. Cut meetings in half.
The major problem with the default time for meetings in your calendar is that these times are often set for an hour. What a calendar hack that will help? For me, that’s way too much time. Most meetings should only need between 20 minutes and 45 minutes. As a rule of thumb, start cutting your meeting times in half so that you can crank out the meeting and move on to something else.
36. Keep an interruptions log.
No matter how organized you are, interruptions are inevitable. While you can’t anticipate every disruption, but if you kept a log of when and what distracted you, you might have been in a position to predict them.
For example, does a co-worker pop in your office right before lunch to spark a conversation? If you know this, you could keep your door closed or alter your schedule so that you’re working on something less important.
37. Leave blanks.
There’s a couple of perks for leaving white spaces in your calendar. For starters, it adds some flexibility to your calendar. So, if you were pulled away from work to address an emergency, you can move whatever you had scheduled in that block to that empty slot.
Another perk is that it gives you a chance to do nothing. As LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner explains, he sets aside 30 to 90-minute blocks of time every day to “process what was going on” around him and “just think.”
38. Identify and block out distractions.
Like interruptions, you also need to determine what your biggest distractions are and find ways to eliminate them. The first place to start is to turn off all notifications like email, social media, instant messages, and texts when focused on any undisturbed work.
There are even some tools, like StayFocusd, that will block these distracting sites for a specific amount of time. If you blocked out an hour to write, for example, you could set it up where you can’t access those sites until the hour is up.
39. Address conflicts immediately.
Sometimes there’s a slight mishap and you accidentally double book a time slot. Don’t neglect this oversight. Address the conflict ASAP by rescheduling one of the events.
40. Get creative during waiting times.
We all have moments throughout the day where we sit and wait. It could be during our morning or waiting for a client to arrive for a meeting. During these periods, you can get creative and start tackling less essential items that may not have earned a place in your schedule. For example, you could read, clean-out your inbox, or network on LinkedIn.
41. Master keyboard shortcuts.
Google Calendar, Outlook, and Apple all have keyboard shortcuts. However, they’re all different. For example, to create an event in Google Calendar, you would tap “c.” In Outlook the shortcut would be Ctrl+N or Ctrl+Shift+A. For Apple, it’s Command (⌘)-N.
Take the time to learn the keyboard shortcuts for your specific calendar.
42. Establish a morning ritual.
What separates the average business person from the rock stars? According to Laura Vanderkam, it’s having a morning ritual.
While this varies from person to person, a morning ritual gives you a chance to set your goals for the day and review your calendar. As a result, you’ll feel calm, confident, and ready for anything that’s thrown your way.
43. Eat that frog.
This favorite productivity hack simply means that you spend the first couple of hours on your most challenging task for the day. Since we’re usually most alert, energetic, and focused in the morning, this is the best time to “eat that frog.” Besides, when that work is accomplished — you’ll have a little momentum behind you to keep on trucking.
44. Take the middle of the day off.
Since energy levels begin to wane as the day goes on, the middle of the day is ideal for taking some time off. A lot of people believe this is the best time for you to get some exercise so that you’ll have a little boost for the remainder of the day.
45. Schedule calls and meetings in the afternoon.
As just noted, energy levels begin to decline as the day goes on. Instead of forcing yourself to work on something that needs your complete attention, the afternoons are perfect for taking care of all of your calls and meetings.
46. Relax at night.
You may want to get the most out of every minute of your day. But, we’re not robots. We need time to recharge our batteries. Instead of scheduling something of importance, take your evenings off and do something that is relaxing or reduces stress like reading, meditating, or working on a hobby.
47. Embrace the 80/20 rule.
Also known as the Pareto Principle, this concept dictates that 80 percent of your results should only come from 20 percent of your actions. Following this rule will guide you in narrowing down your goals and activities to just a strategic few. As a consequence, you can remove less critical items from your calendar.
48. Follow the Pomodoro technique.
The well-known“Pomodoro Technique” uses a timer so that you schedule short breaks, usually five minutes, after 25 minutes of focused work. Don’t get hung up on the exact figures. The idea is to work uninterrupted for a set period of time, and then take a quick break.
49. Don’t break the chain.
Not breaking the chain is a technique used by Jerry Seinfeld. To stay focused, he would use a wall calendar and a red marker. He would then cross out the days on the calendar when he wrote.
“After a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it, and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is not to break the chain.”
50. Use the Eisenhower matrix.
Named after Dwight Eisenhower, this is a great way to help you determine your priorities. James Clear explains that “Eisenhower’s strategy for taking action and organizing your tasks is simple. Using the decision matrix below, you will separate your actions based on four possibilities.
- Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
- Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
- Urgent, but not essential (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
- Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).”
This matrix “can be used for broad productivity plans (‘How should I spend my time each week?’) and for smaller, daily plans (‘What should I do today?).”
51. Try out the Arrow method.
This method was created by Nicholas Sonnenberg “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.”
To accomplish this, I schedule the majority of my meetings at the beginning of the week, preferably on Monday or Tuesday,” writes Sonnenberg. “These are mostly meetings I have every week — executive meetings, weekly check-ins, financial updates, etc. So I start my week with a pretty packed schedule, but then the rest of the week is more open. Having a full week at the first of the week and tapering off at the end, has benefits.”
52. Know the difference between must, should, and want.
Jay Shirley’s approach to a productive day is by answering three simple questions; What must you do to have the most impact today? What should you do to contribute to your long-term goals? What do you want to do so that you’ll to make you happy?
Not only does this help you start the day on a positive note, but it also puts everything that you add to your calendar in perspective.
53. Stick to the 2-minute rule.
Made famous by David Allen, author of the best-selling Getting Things Done, if something can be completed in under two-minutes do it now. This way it’s not hanging over your head.
54. Pursue the rule of 3.
Chris Baily, the author of The Productivity Project, built this rule where you think in the following 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?
It’s another simple way to help figure out what activities to schedule in your calendar, today, this week, and the year.
55. Create airplane days.
“Some years ago, Hughes AirWest, a regional airline that once served the western U.S., hired a consulting firm to compare the efficiency of flying first-class with flying economy-class, and with working in a normal office,” writes Brian Tracy.
“What they found was that one hour of uninterrupted work time in an airplane yielded the equivalent of three hours of work in a normal work environment. The keyword was ‘’uninterrupted.’’ If you plan ahead and organize your work before you leave for the airport, you can increase productivity by accomplishing an enormous amount while you are in the air.”
56. Set “No Meeting Wednesdays.”
Okay. Maybe your “no meeting day” won’t be on Wednesday, but pick a “no meeting day” that remains constant in your office. Businesses like Asana and Facebook made a rule that there were no meetings on Wednesday so that employees could focus on their individual tasks.
Even if you’re working solo, make it a rule to have at least one day per week where there are no meetings. This way you’re aren’t pulled away from more important work.
57. The 4Ds.
The 4D’s is a time management technique that can help reduce distractions and encourage you only to input your priorities into your calendar. The 4D approach goes as follows:
- Delete. If any item doesn’t provide any value or serve a purpose, then drop it from your schedule.
- Delegate. Are there daily tasks that could be assigned to someone else? If so, delegate them to that individual so that you’re wasting time on less critical matters.
- Defer. For important tasks that are important, but not urgent, you can assign them for a later date. For instance, booking your travel accommodations for a business trip in 6 months shouldn’t be ignored. But, it shouldn’t take precedence over your most important tasks for the day.
- Do it. If there is an urgent and vital task, just do it. An example would be putting out a fire with a client or customer. It may change your plans for the day, but it’s a top priority at the moment.
58. Use the right tools for the right job.
For as powerful as a digital calendar tool can be, specific tasks are better suited for other tools. For example, Calendar makes scheduling appointments a breeze by using machine learning to determine when and where a meeting should take place. It can also suggest who to invite and what type of meeting to hold.
At the same time, you don’t want to overdo it with the tools. Only use the essential tools that assist you in keeping you productive. Also, a platform like Zapier can streamline your workflows by connecting the apps you use to take care of business.
60. Automate repetitive tasks.
There’s no need to pack your calendar with all of these repetitive and mundane tasks that could be handled by software. Think about the recurring tasks you’re responsible for each day and look for tools that can do them for you. It could be anything from scheduling social media posts to billing to email autoresponders.
61. Outsource and delegate.
However, there will still be certain things that automation can’t do. In this case, outsource or delegate them to someone else. You’ll be surprised at how much this frees up your calendar.
62. Seriously, stop multitasking.
When you have what seems like a million things to do, you may want to save time by doing several things at once. That’s just not effective. Multitasking means that you’re not giving 100% of your attention to any one task. As a consequence, you make more mistakes and waste time mentally shifting your gears.
63. Tame your inbox.
The average worker spends 28% of their workweek on email. If left unchecked, it can throw your schedule out-of-whack. Find ways to keep your inbox under control by implementing a method like the 4Ds or using a tool like SaneBox.
64. Set an out-of-office message.
It’s happened to us all at some point. We’re on vacation, spending time with your fam on a sunny Saturday afternoon, or a business trip. Next thing you know you receive a message requesting a meeting at these inopportune times.
The good news is that you can create an out-of-office message in Outlook and Google so that people know that you’re unavailable and when you’ll return. Some of these messages will automatically decline a meeting invite during your “off-hours.
65. Create availability types.
Creating an availability type can be found in tools like Calendar. When you go to create an event, you can set the time for your availability. If a prospective client wants to have a discovery call, you can mark your availability for just 10 or 15-minutes. Now both of you can schedule in your calendars that exact amount of time for the call.
66. Start a timer inside your calendar.
In a perfect world, all online calendars would have a built-in timer. But we don’t live in such a world. However, there are tools like Big Days, Countdown+Calendar, and Get Countdown that does. A timer may seem old-school, but it’s an effective way for you to spend the time you’ve allotted to your calendar blocks.
67. Integrate your email and calendars.
If you have a Google or Office 365, then this is already done for you. For example, if you booked a flight using your Gmail address it will be added to your Google Calendar automatically. If you’re using a different email address from your calendar, then integrate them so that emails containing any date specific information will be sent to your calendar as well.
68. Have your daily agenda delivered to your inbox.
This is a handy Google Calendar feature where you can have your daily agenda sent to your Gmail every morning at 5 am. If you use Outlook, you can also have your daily calendar delivered to your inbox.
69. Embed your calendar.
Most online calendars provide you with a unique URL so that you can embed your calendar directly onto your website. Now you don’t have to email your calendar whenever asks for your availability. They can see for themselves on your site.
70. Add tasks to your calendar.
With online calendars like Google and Outlook, you can create tasks or to-do items and then add them to your calendar. You can also set reminders and even set the task’s priority. It’s a simple way to consolidate the tools your use and keep all of your events and tasks in one dashboard.
71. Leverage your time off.
As previously noted, we all need time off. Sometimes we even have to embrace our procrastination. However, there’s a vast difference between watching YouTube videos for an hour and using that time more productively.
Since you already know when you’re most and least productive, try blocking out chunks of time when your energy and focus are at it’s lowest. During this period waste a little time if you wish. But don’t wholly squander your time. Listen to a podcast or start connecting with influencers on social media. You can still be productive during your time off.
72. Front-load your days and weeks.
“Every week, plan to tackle the most difficult and pressing tasks first, early-on,” writes Rose Leadem in another Calendar article. “Try to front-load your weeks by getting started on these tasks early in the mornings and early in the work weeks on Mondays or Tuesdays. That way, you’ll avoid any stress that comes with racing to meet a specific deadline later in the week.”
Another perk is that if something else pops up, it’s not as stressful since you’ve already worked on the most challenging parts.
73. Reprioritize throughout the day.
Interruptions, emergencies, and how you’re feeling at the moment can drastically change your schedule. For example, a client calls you with a question or concern. Not to belittle the situation, but it may not be that urgent at the moment. It could be addressed during your downtime.
Take a couple of minutes to reprioritize as the day goes on. Identify which items need to be done right now and which ones can wait until later.
74. Set time constraints.
Thanks to something called Parkinson’s Law, we actually become more productive when you allocate a specific amount of time to a certain activity. As such, Dan Silvestre suggests that you, “Set deadlines even when you don’t need to. Scheduling less time to complete tasks and force your brain to focus.”
75. Stick to your business hours.
If you stay that you’re quitting work at 5 sharp, then stick to that schedule. It’s the only way that you can maintain a healthy work-life balance. Also, it prevents others from interfering with your life outside of work. If they want to have a conference call with, they have to do so during business hours.
76. Break larget projects into smaller steps.
Think about all of the work that goes into building a house. You can’t worry about what colors you’re going to paint your bedroom until you have the drywall up. And, you can’t put that up until there you have a frame and foundation built.
The point is that we tend to get ahead of ourselves when thinking about a big project. We then believe that we have a ton of time, and we procrastinate. Instead, break these large projects into more manageable pieces and dedicate a specific time to each step.
77. Use past calendars.
Reviewing a past calendar can be a valuable asset. You could look at a recent event and share it with your accountant for tax purposes. Or, you can see what recurring events you had and then copy and paste them into your calendar for this year and next.
78. Rearrange your phone’s home screen.
What apps appear when you unlock your smartphone? Instead of social media, email, or games, your home screen should include essential tools like your calendar. This way, you won’t get distracted by your email. And, more importantly, it will let you quickly access your calendar since it’s front and center.
79. Ask people to call you for urgent needs.
Make it a rule that if there is an emergency, you should be called. Since you have hopefully turned off your email and text notifications, you wouldn’t receive them until later anyway. Besides, it’s sometimes faster to resolve an issue over a quick chat instead of back-and-forth emails.
80. Use a bullet journal.
A bullet journal is a notebook that acts as your calendar, to-do list, dairy, and whatever else you want it to be. Besides having your tasks, to-dos, and schedule in one location, it’s not as distracting as its electronic counterparts.
I would still pair this with an online calendar. But, a bullet journal is ideal when you need to get thoughts out of your head or glance at your calendar when you don’t want to get distracted by technology.
81. Set ninety-day goals, as opposed to yearly ones.
“Everything can change in a year,” writes Emily Price in “Productivity Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Accomplish More at Work – That Actually Work! ” “While many of us spend the beginning of the year creating goals for what we hope to accomplish by December 31, it’s better to set goals you’d like to finish by March 31 instead,” adds Price.
“Come April, you can evaluate how close you are to reaching those goals (if you haven’t reached them already) and revamp them — or create new goals—for continued success in the following three months. Even if you haven’t reached your original goal, you’re now on track to reach it in the next time frame.”
82. Create templates.
A template is basically just a document where you “fill-in-the-blank.” It may take a little time up front. But, once created, it can be used over and over again. Also, templates can be designed to meet your specific needs.
If you haven’t done so yet, create a calendar template that works for you. Doing so will keep you organized and productive.
83. Improve your remote meetings.
As more and more people are working remotely, this is key. Besides following standard meeting guidelines, always provide the phone number or meeting link when creating an event in your calendar. It will prevent attendees from bombarding you with emails requesting this information.
84. Protect your personal time.
When you think of your calendar you probably associate it with work. The truth is that it’s also a powerful tool to protect our time outside of work. Having a consistent end time, for example, ensures that you’re home in time to have dinner with your family. It also prevents work from spilling into your personal life. Have a request to meet a client for dinner, but you already have plans with friends? Sorry. That business event will have to be rescheduled.
85. Remove desktop notifications.
If you ever received a desktop notification from your Google Calendar you had to notice that it takes up the entire screen. When you’re in the middle of something that can be a serious distraction. Thankfully you can change the settings so that you’ll receive a more gentle reminder or completely turn these notifications off.
86. Keep your calendar where you’ll see it.
If you’re using a paper calendar — always place it somewhere where it can be seen. The open viewing spot could be on your fridge, wall across from your desk, or actually on your desktop. As for your digital calendar, move the app to your home screen.
87. Create a completed folder.
Joy Cho, founder and creative director of Oh Joy!, has created a ‘completed’ category. According to Cho, “once I finish something, I can change it to a different category/color, and it stays there, but I know it’s been done. If you look at it, it’s basically a rainbow of to-do’s, and I love it!”
88. Tap into the power of AI.
Artificial intelligence is a marvel. Tools like Calendar can make smart suggestions on how you can schedule your days. There are also other tools, like x.ai and Evie, that act as personal assistants for everything from scheduling to sales.
89. Get access to other people’s calendars.
Since you’ve already shared your calendar with others, ask them to do the same. Doing so allows you and your frequent collaborators to always be on the same page. And, it will make coordinating schedules a breeze. You may never have to ask them what their availability is ever again.
90. Speak, don’t type.
Between voice assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant, along with the emergence of intelligent calendars, it’s no longer necessary to manually enter information into your calendar. Just use your voice to add, edit, or review your calendar.
While it’s not a bad idea to keep a couple of notes in your calendar, you also don’t want to overstuff it. Only include relevant details in your calendar. For random or extensive notes, use a separate app.
Also, go through your calendar and delete the events or activities that no longer serve a purpose. It will keep your schedule lean and mean.
92. Schedule downtime.
If you don’t schedule, it won’t happen. Block out time for breaks, lunch, and most importantly those much-deserved vacations throughout 2020.
93. Go on a problem-solving holiday.
Everyone has those couple of things that they want to learn how to do. The problem is that finding the time to focus on that task can be hard to come by — no matter how well you manage your time. One option would be to block out a couple of days to fully immerse yourself in learning this skill.
For example, if you want to start a podcast or enhance your coding skills, you could stay home for 2 or 3 days and take an online class, watch an instructional video, and practice. Treat this like you would when you go on vacation and make sure that you’re most important tasks are completed and that your colleagues and clients know that you won’t be available.
94. Create an “optional” calendar.
This is an idea shared by Caroline Liu. Here’s how it works. Create an “optional calendar” with items that aren’t mandatory. For example, a networking event you’re on the fence about attending. If your schedule opens up, you can attend the event. If not, you don’t feel committed because it wasn’t in your master calendar for 2020.
95. Book your calendar well in advance.
“Plan as much as you can a year in advance and stick to it,” recommends “Shark Tank” star and Herjavec Group CEO Robert Herjavec. For example, when his children were younger, Herjavec would sit down with his assistant and children’s counselor every September to go over every holiday and event they had off.
“Because of that, I never missed a swim meet. I never missed a school play. I never missed anything,” he told Entrepreneur. “I’d fly from L.A. back to Toronto to be with my kids for one day. That’s the great thing about having your own business — the freedom to control your schedule and to do with it what you want.”
96. Restore deleted entries.
Don’t automatically assume that the deleted entries in your calendar don’t serve a purpose. They could still be used to help you create your schedule for the next month or year. Hold onto your existing calendar items until no longer needed. And, if accidentally deleted, you can always go into your settings and restore them.
97. Learn from the best.
Do a little research and find out how the most successful people have managed their calendars. They’re usually more than willing to share their productivity habits. And, you may discover a new calendar hack that works best for you.
98. Assess what works best for you.
Speaking of what works best for, after some trial and error, stick with the calendar techniques that keep you organized and productive. It may not be a popular option for others. But, as long as it works for you, then that’s all that matters.
99. Manage your calendar.
“Calendar management is the single most important thing, especially as you get busy and have more responsibilities,” the CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management tells CNBC.
“You have to be maniacally focused on owning your calendar, on having the lists of what you need from other people and what other people need from you. What are the short-term issues that need to be dealt with? What are the long-term issues that cannot be put off?
“Unless you can stay on top of that religiously, it will end up owning you, and that’s not a way to go about staying organized and being on top of things.”
100. Keep it simple.
Don’t make your calendar any more complicated then it has to be. Keep it as simple as possible so that you don’t get confused or frustrated. Your calendar should help reduce stress, not add to it.
101. Schedule regular check-ins.
Finally, schedule regular check-ins with yourself throughout 2020 to see how effective your calendar is. You can do this whenever you want, like every quarter or year. You want to make sure that you’ve been productive and successful in meeting your deliverable. If not, you need to reassess your calendar management and go in a different route.
Updated January 2020