Whether it’s the classic paper version or the latest app, we rely on our calendars. We use them to schedule our appointments and remind us of deadlines. The fact is, calendars are one of the most effective organizational tools we have since its use (or lack thereof) is directly linked to how time is managed.
Here are some techniques to make the most of your calendar, keep you on track and take control of your time!
Include Details: When scheduling a meeting or appointment make notes to yourself on the calendar about the meeting. Aside from the obvious information like where and what time, include details like; discussion topics, materials to include, and names and contact information of meeting participants. These details will help you prepare for the meeting and address any last minute issues (like running late) if they arise. If the meeting is taking place somewhere other than your office, include drive time in your scheduling and any special directions.
Before & After Time: Give yourself time to prepare ahead of the meeting and time to reflect after the meeting. The best way to do this is to carve that time out on your calendar. The importance of preparation is no secret, yet it’s often over looked because “time runs out.” Putting this activity on the calendar builds in that extra time you need. Giving yourself time to reflect or debrief after the meeting is also vital as it gives you an opportunity to clarify points made during the meeting and determine the necessary action items.
When working on a longer term project, note the due date and schedule action items in the days/weeks leading up to the due date.
Scheduling to Your Advantage: For some of us the early morning hours are the best time to tackle things, others work best in the late afternoon or evening. If the night time is your right time, scheduling a 7:00 am meeting is not going to bode well for you. Set your calendar up in a way that makes sense for you and your preferences.
Color Code: Distinguish the type of event on your calendar using color. Use red for deadlines, blue for tasks to be done in the office and yellow for meetings. Use whichever color schemes work best for you. This gives you an at a glance idea on how your day and week looks and what actions are required of you.
Stick to the Schedule: Borrow any extenuating circumstances like the boss calling an emergency meeting or illness in the family, stick to the schedule. Your calendar is only as effective as its user.
Here’s to productivity and organization in 2014!