Calendar management might seem simple but it is not, especially if your business is going through irregularities in productivity and lapses.
You might be a small business with consistent meetings and appointments to make along with various tasks, projects and procedures to fulfil on time.
And it is evident that you need an effective calendar and schedule management to streamline everything on set deadlines.
You need to optimize the project management with right schedule management strategies and relevant calendar tools.
Even if you are going to go heavy on or in detail with this, but still want to optimize your task management and calendar scheduling, here are 25 effective tips to bring the best results.
- Putting First Things First
- Schedule Your Ideal Week
- Don’t Go For One-Size-Fits-All Meeting Durations
- Seize The Day!
- Put Limitations To Your Tasks
- Think Before You Act, Always !
- Be Well-Equipped With Your Toolbox
- Use the KISS Principle
- Go For Timeboxing
- Step Back To See The Big Picture
- Practise Microsceduling A Lot
- Do Batching
- Always Try To Be Early With Your Deadlines
- Create Attention-Grabbing Titles
- Using The ‘P’s On You Calendar
- Prefer To Use A Meeting Set-Up Platform
- Have Scheduled Breaks
- Put Your BBTs In The Calendar Too
- Keep Your Calendar Visible
- Adapt The Strategic Use Of Reminders
- Integrate Your Calendar With Your Chat/CMS Platform
- Strike While Iron Is Hot
- Never Do Back-To Back Appointments
- Add All The Required Time Zones
- Strategizing Better For Your Meetings
- You Do What Suits You
- Let The AI Do The Heavy-Lifting
- Audit Your Past Calendars Perodically
- You’ve To Stop Playing The Victim Card
Putting First Things First
Stephen Covey, the author of “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Poeple” famously wrote “Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities”.
He further talks about the living beings are driven by the value most, not by agendas and forces surrounding one.
Not understnding your priorities will make you end up consumed in less importance for the limited time slot you have.
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Most likely you won’t be able to complete the most important or urgent work of the day. So, you need to put things in an order in a way you want to protect them more importantly.
Take control of your schedule,always before the day even starts and even weeks before. Even many people prefer their plans to be annual. However, this depends upon the person.
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And annual plans might be perfect to block out a time from your day for a particular goal or business objective you want to achieve.
It can also be events that are important to you over the year or events that are annually anyway.
Make sure you first priortize the work you want to do first, and create an annual Calnder as it protects your priorities over a long period of time .
Also the rest of the time will be clear and easy to fill with other important tasks to do.
Schedule Your Ideal Week
Even if you have an annual plan in order with your priorities set on for a year, you still need to make a schedule.
Well, this is because priorities change over time and through the year. However, this doesn’t mean the top first priority you set for the year isn’t important.
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It is just sometimes, at the moment or for that time, something becomes your priority for many reasons, and you cannot see the future.
So, just before the weekend on Either Friday afternoon or Sunday evening, flesh out your best week ever! An ideal week you would want to have.
Again start from prirotizing your to-do list after your list of the tasks that you suppose to or want to do in this coming week.
Then, you can add these priorities and timings to your Calendar.
Make sure the schedule is practical and to do the right task at the right time. Be realist and strategic about it.
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For Exmaple, you better your number prirority work at time when you are at top of your energy level and focus.
Another Exmaple, is setting tasks to do before the deadline, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to deliberately set a work to do post-deadline.
Don’t Go For One-Size-Fits-All Meeting Durations
Meetings are the integral part of scheduling and calendar management.
And the duration you set for the meeting also impacts your overall schedule for the day.
When you decide the length of your meetings, it is tempting to just go for the set ideal time for 30 minutes or 1 hour.
That’s the time advised overall to business owners.
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But what most people do not understand is that it is not a one-size-fits-all duration that works for all businesses.
Save your critical time on the appointment day by reducing this time especially if you are not needed.
You need to see whether you even need to invest that much time in your meetings.
Talk beforehand to your meeting partner(s) and set an agenda and lazer-sharp approach to run the meeting.
Seize The Day!
So you have already planned your annual schedule to a extent and also have priortized schedule for a week.
That means, you know how it is going to be spent next week, and the whole year for some parts of it.
But,you also need to think about the rest of the day!
You wouldn’t want the rest of the day going all sleeping-in or roaming around.
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You should aim for waking up and start your day in the best way possible, so it ends well.
All those morning rituals and chores like exercising, writing a journal, meditation, taking a bath, catching up with some news and enjoying a healthy breakfast.
Even if you know what you are supposed to do for a week or a year, you need to set your timings in a way that you can enjoy the rest of the day.
You wound’t want to be drained out at the end of the day only to manage to fulfil the work.
Make sure you have quite some relaxing time, and quality time with your dear ones as well.
Put Limitations To Your Tasks
Very simply put but very effective, and foundation of every scheduling and project management – Put your task on clock!
Whatever you’re doing, no matter whether it is personal, work, meeting people, long-term or short term, household chores or anything, just put a time cap on it.
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It can be as simple as cleaning your inbox or getting on a phone call, make your mind about how much time you’re going to give it.
And then, highly recommended to think it over as whether it is worth it or not.
How you can optimize it or if not urgent, you can put it on the calendar to do it at the right time.
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If you know Parkinson’s law, you would know that having too much time at your hand, only going to make you roam around, even ending up doing nothing.
You have to track your time and see what task should be given how much time according to various factors.
Also, this is pretty much how time management or project management and scheduling work out to be.
Think Before You Act, Always !
The most common sin we all have been guilty of, is wasting our time randomly through the day, without even thinking about it.
You sit down on your table to start work. Then you open your email inbox, and next thing you know is you just spent half an hour checking all the emails.
It happens all day, like when you check your smartphone in the middle of work or start looking for some misplaced stuff you need now.
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Well, it is not that these works are’t needed to be done or important.
But you have to understand there is important work and then there is important urgent work.
You have to treat your priorities for the day as an urgent important work for the day and the rest of the task could be a distraction for it.
So think twice about what work you are getting into. See whether it is something that is worth doing right now.
Schedule a time for checking out emails, declutter your workplace, organize your office etc.
Be Well-Equipped With Your Toolbox
It is just like how significant a toolbox is for a homeowner or for fixing a car or any stuff.
Not just one tool, but the set of the right tools dedicated to serve a particular purpose through their specialization in it.
Well, that’s something you need for time management, scheduling, calenda management or evne project management as well
You need to be ready with the right tools for these, that you are convenient with using and adapted to.
These tools can be the Calendar application, scheduling software, reminders, to-do list and other management applications as well.
Use the KISS Principle
KISS Principle is an idea developed by Navy Design Principle in 60s where it is short for “Keep It Simple Stupid”.
The idea is to keep things extremely simple for yourself, so you can adapt it in your life without any struggle or conflict.
According to John Meda, a computer scientist and author,we quote “ Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.”
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Make sure you wouldn’t create a complicated calendar or scheduling for simple tasks such as brushing or bathing.
The entries should be for task-oriented work, more productive and meaningful for the day.
Also, do not add extra elements to your schedule to crowd the simple and necessary tasks to do.
Go For Timeboxing
When you ditch your to-do lists and go for the simple yet highly effective productivity hack is called timboxing.
Timeboxing is about blocking off a particular amount of time to do a specific task from your calendar.
It Is an effective calendar management practice that helps you make the most of the time, and get things done.
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Timeboxing almost feels like a superpower where at the given part of time, you can accomplish any task.
It helps you grow with a particular skill, complete any specific important or highly urgent task or break a big project into daily few hour time boxes to complete it eventually.
Experts highly suggest timeboxing as it also makes you feel more in control and perfect protagonist to fight against Parkinson’s law.
Step Back To See The Big Picture
Every once in a while, or even you can set a time for this, like every week or month, you have to review your calendar.
Step back for a while and see what is working and what doesn’t. Also, reflect on your priorities and whether they are getting the required attention and work or not.
This big-picture view of your calendars allows you to see your own patterns of working and habits that need correction.
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Learn, change and adapt according to your strengths and weaknesses with respect to the time you have at hand.
You also have to see whether you are able to achieve a better work-life balance or not, as this is one of the most important things in your life.
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Also, look for ways to optimize your schedule and work. What can be delegated or done differently for better results.
It is better to make your review time every week at least in the starting so you don’t get comfortable with your mistakes early on.
Practise Microsceduling A Lot
Do you know what huge personalities like Bill Gates, Mark Wahlber, Elon Musk and even other internet celebrities like Casey Neistat and Elaine Lui have in common?
Well, that’s microscheduling!
Their scheduling habit is about breaking their days into 5 to 7 minute blocks to perform a particular task.
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The thing about microscheduling is, since it is a very short time block, it doesn’t give you much room to move around or deviate.
However, microscheduler works best in the circumstances when you have sorted your priorities for the day.
You do have an organized structure on how your day will pan out, then microscheduling works like a charm to speed up and put you in a higher efficiency level.
Batching is one of the best time management or schedule management techniques.
The best part is, it is so easy to implement as when you understand it would make more sense.
It is about blocking out a particular time from your schedule to focus or complete a group of similar tasks.
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Batching is doing all the tasks which are similar in nature in one way or another.
For example :
Small tasks like checking email, getting yourself a breakfast or going to nearby groceries should be done along the same line of time grouped together.
Or maybe you just batch all of your house chores and complete it together, rather than doing one in every middle of the priority tasks.
Batching works because it prevents multitasking, optimizes your efficiency and flow of the work by reducing the conflict of switching tasks.
Every time you switch tasks of different nature, even a little, it takes away your flow and efficiency to begin with.
Not to forget the time it will take to refocus on the next task and reach that much of an efficiency level.
Always Try To Be Early With Your Deadlines
Whether it is some important project or just a regular day-to-day task that you are supposed to complete in the given deadline, always aim to be early.
For Exmaple :
If you have a deadline for submitting a project on the 10th of the month, well it is better you aim to complete it on the 8th or even 9th.
It doesnt matter how scheduled and organized you are, there is always the possibility of things going wrong.
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Remember Murphy’s Law! It is always lurking over your plans from the shadows. So better always try to meet your deadlines as early as possible.
Same goes for any event as well. If your timings of a meeting or ceremony is 3 pm, aim to reach the spot at 1: 50 pm.
So even if things don’t go exactly the way you planned, the excess time you secured by coming before will cover up.
Arriving early is still known pracitse, the same you should do for your projects scheduled and even the day-to-day work.
Create Attention-Grabbing Titles
Make your calendar more personal and creative to be engaged with. It doesn’t have to be boring or adhere to a particular template or style of language.
Schedule or calendar management is personal, so you can come with eye-catching titles that pull your right in when you read it.
For example, you can use words like “sales pitch” or other more defining and meaningful terms instead of using just “meeting”.
Put a humor to it, you can even add some quotes or define it in a way that you understand why this has to be done and so on.
You can even use color-coding for priorities or type of the work, make it bold or choose different font style for representation.
The idea is to make it engaging and personal to you, so you feel more associated and interested to fulfill it.
Using The ‘P’s On You Calendar
Well, for this one, say thanks to Rhianna!
She talked about even with so much work she does, she really prirotized scheduled downtime from her days.
Rhianna mentioned how it is essential to make personal time or me-time because one’s mental health depends on it.
So what she does to protect her personal time from all the work and stress, is just write a ‘P’ on her calendar.
The different colored ‘P’ denotes the personal time on the calendar. This is really helpful for people with too much work, or work-stress.
Even works if you’re a workaholic but really want to have some time off to make it right.
Prefer To Use A Meeting Set-Up Platform
You also have to consider the time that it takes to schedule the meetings.
It is definitely going to eat up a significant amount of time from your daily routine.
This can be even a nightmare for people who are consistently meeting people and booking new appointments to clients, colleagues and their team members on a regular basis.
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Well, the best you can do to reduce this workload and optimize the time, is to get the right sheduling or appointment booking application or tool.
These tools are even capable of automating your scheduling and meeting requirements for the day, week or even months.
You can create a custom link to allow people to set a time slot from the available time you have as it will be sync to your calendar.
It also automatically books the appointment pulling out information from your email communication or integration with the email platform.
There are just impeccable time-saving features you can use to reduce your involvement in scheduling and appointments booking.
Have Scheduled Breaks
Scheduled breaks are so underrated as a productivity hack!
People do not understand how crucial it is to have a break every one in a while when you are completing your scheduled work for the day.
Even people who understand the significance of breaks do not bother to schedule it or simply miss out from their scheduled timeline that often creates irregularities.
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The fact is, one cannot focus on any particular task for more than 50 minutes. You are bound to feel distracted and lacking focus, unless you’re in the flow state.
You also have to see that you’re completely productive or full of energy at all times of the day.
So it is better to find out those times and take your scheduled break at your lowest of the day.
After working every 50 minutes or 1 hour, if you add 10-20 minutes break, you will see your productivity boosting like never before, and so your focus.
Put Your BBTs In The Calendar Too
BBTs are the Back Burner Tasks, all the chores that are not really important at the moment or just not very urgent.
Most of the time you just want to ignore these tasks often related to your home, personal or other works.
It can be like cleaning your house, calling your insurance company, scrubbing your bathroom, take your car for servicing or all sort of such tasks
These works usually on your non-priority list always pile-up together and suddenly cause chaos on some random day.
So it is better to schedule these BBTs in your calendar as well. It is defintely fine putting them into your lowest priorities.
The best strategy would be deciding a particular time in a week or even two weeks or some even once in a month to complete it.
Like clearing your backyards could be a monthly thing to do but if you don’t for 2-3 months, it can really bother you some day or disturb your planned schedule.
Keep Your Calendar Visible
We are more susceptible to the visual mode of communication and information consumption.
So make sure to put a place where you can see your calendar, better if it is physically available like on a giant size board or paper.
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You can even put it on your desktop or on the workplace table. It will help you keep on the track even if you get caught in your mind for a while.
This will keep giving you reminders on what things needed to be done today and also at the current moment.
You can have your detailed schedule in your scheduling tools or in your computer but some form must be available to be visibly seen in the place you work.
Adapt The Strategic Use Of Reminders
Reminders in the calendar is a great feature that often goes underutilized. And there is a pretty good reason for it!
You do not use it strategically, utllizing it according to your schedule, situations and shortcomings.
For Example :
If you have a meeting scheduled for next week, you can set a reminder for a week in advance, so when the time comes, you remember to send agendas to all the attendees.
And then set another reminder just one day before to prepare these agendas to give it the next day.
Further you can set another reminder a few hours back or an hour back before the starting of the meeting, just to remind you in case you lose track of the time.
Integrate Your Calendar With Your Chat/CMS Platform
Integration in these SaaS applications saves time and keeps things centralized for easy management and sync.
The same goes with the Calendar tool or application. Make sure it allows you to connect with other Content Management System (CMS) or chat applications.
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If you can integrate your social media scheduling app, appointment booking system or any other content-based system, it will manage things much faster and on time.
Also, you don’t have to double book or check things differently to assure you are on schedule with everything.
Whether it is content publishing scheduling, meetings or communication, a calendar app with such integrations can make your life so much easier.
Strike While Iron Is Hot
There are many things you come across on a regular basis in work or in life, generally as well, that are time-sensitive and need attention at the time.
For example, if you are meeting people around and deciding to give them a call or go to meet them, you might take their business card or promise to call but you are more likely to forget it.
And even if you remember it after a time, it might be of no-use or lose its impact.
There are some meetings or events that you need to attend, and at that moment it seems you will do it and remember it when it comes but most likely, you don’t!
So it is better you strike while the iron is hot, which means schedule it rightaway while you remember it being important.
If you book dates or schedules for these important dates rightaway, you would also prevent accidenlty scheduling anything else in future at that particular time slot.
Never Do Back-To Back Appointments
Working hard and working smart are two different things!
And working hard might seem a great thing to do, and it is to a limitation but for a long-term it is always problematic.
Focus on working smartly where it pans out to be better results without giving it much or more than it needed.
For example, your business surely allows you to work consistently, and schedule back-to-back meetings.
But it doesn’t mean you have to do it whether in the name of being busy or doing hard work.
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This is because no matter how productive it looks, it going to end bad for you affecting your schedule, your productivity, your efficiency, your health, mental health or even personal relatioship.
Everything is tied up in a way that it might seem very obvious, but it is more intricate than you think.
So optimize your meeting timings and durations as well.
Cut down your per meeting time durations, focus only on the in-hand subjects or problems to talk about. Make it like 10 minutes or 20 minutes or even less.
Reschedule one or two of the meetings that make you consistently go back-to-back for appointments.
Take a break in between, do other things and even need some time to prepare for another meeting.
Add All The Required Time Zones
This is especially for business owners and remote workers who work for or with clients around the world.
Add different time zones, mostly the required ones to your calendar application. It is more important than you think.
When you know you have to set the meeting schedule, you would know what times could be inappropriate for them or too late or too early.
As you know due to different zones, if the scheduled meeting time for you is 3 PM in the afternoon, for them it could be 1: 00 AM at night.
Integrating time zones to your calendar will preview timings in different time zones, so you know what time to schedule.
Also when you travel abroad and your team is in your native country or other way around, it can be frustrating to get this kind of time zone confusion.
Strategizing Better For Your Meetings
Since meetings are the vital part of any business, even a lot of business people end up doing meetings and communication for the most part of their day.
It becomes critical that you revise your approach and strategies for these meetings.
First of all, doing a lot of meetings for long hours isn’t a sign of productivity or success, especially if it is not necessary.
Find out whether your meetings are productive or not. See why it requires such a long time and how you can reduce the duration.
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Make your meeting objective lazor sharp and be prepared for it beforehand.
Accept only those meetings that serve a purpose or have a solution-oriented communication for in-hand problems.
Communicate with your team members or employees about optimizing the team meetings.
Do an alternative if they aren’t required to be in-person through online communication tools such as Slack messages or quick phone calls.
At worst, you can also go for a short video call saving your time and energy to go out for a meeting.
You Do What Suits You
One of the most important aspects to learn about scheduling and project management, that is personal to you.
And you do whatever works best for you.
Many people struggle with scheduling or calendar tools because they do not customize it according to their preferences, requirements and needs.
Also, the nature of the job also determines the kind of schedule you craft for yourself.
Do trial and error with multiple management sytems and see what suits you the best, and stick with it.
Let The AI Do The Heavy-Lifting
Artificial intelligence is one of the greatest technological advancement that is changing the world for the better.
It is changing the way work gets done, increasing the potential of tools and so much more.
In the case of scheduling and calendar management, you see more smart calendars coming up.
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These calendars are AI-powered and have features to track how you spend your time, how much you give it to a particular task over a period of time.
They can also produce detailed reports on tracking and anlayzing your productivity and the best part is yet to come!
On the basis of these patterns you leave in the work, they can actually suggest to you on how you can spend your time better, increase your efficiency, practical solutions to complete tasks and much more.
Smart calendars can add so much value to your time and project management, and also put you ahead of your competition.
Audit Your Past Calendars Perodically
You can get the best calendar management resource in the place by applying the most effective strategies and tips, but the best thing you got yourself , is you!
Because at the end of the day, you have to monitor, track, and critique your performance according to the set standards and deadlines.
But the most important aspect is to keep learning from your mistakes and get
And in order to do that, you need to see what went wrong or what could have been better to achieve greater success.
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So, here comes, the auditing of your past calendars, and too in detail. So even put this into your schedule.
You do this along with a regular quick review of every week’s schedule performance, and this can be monthly or even quarterly.
There are various tools that even help you do that, AI-powered features that give you so much information based on your work patterns, habits, schedule performance and more.
Here are four steps to follow :
Check Whether Your Biggest Priorities Are Met or Not
Write down what were your biggest priorities in the past month. See whether or how much you were able to achieve with the given time.
If you can’t match up the expectation in terms of quality, you have to see how to optimize the time, or increase your efficiency.
Do not be afraid to challenge your abilities to pull it off faster but also do not set unrealistic over-ambitious goals that might even get fulfilled but at the cost of quality.
This obviously depends upon :
- What kind of work are you doing ?
- How much ideal time does it require to complete?
- How much time does it take you to complete generally or the last month?
- and then, how much can you improve on your efficiency scale?
Audit Your Past Month Calendar Task & Time-Wise
What you need to do is see what were the priority tasks that you needed to do on a regular basis and then all other activities.
Write down all the activities you were engaged in and now you have to document your time consumed by those activities over the month.
You can use tools like RescueTime to do it easily.
Further you can examine how much time was dedicated to what tasks or project and whether the results or work done is satisfactory in ratio to the time given.
Even before you have to see for any lapses, postponed tasks or skipped tasks and whether it was recovered or not.
Bucketing All Those Activities In Priority Categories
You must have set a priority category or set of works that are prioritzed over others.
It would decide for a month or even a year dominating your schedule in terms of importance.
Well, now you have to see how much percentage of overall time you actually spend on those priority categories.
You can also see how much time the categories like “less imrpotant” or “worthless”, “housechores” “personal time” consumed?
Setting New Goals/ Targets For next Month
The whole point of auditing is not to just highlight your mistakes or praise your accompalisment, it is just a part.
The best takeaway is what you have learned from it, and how this data or information can be utlized to optimize the strategy for next month.
Your priority should be at least not to repeat your mistakes you have done this month, so those must be identified in auditing.
Now focus on creaitng a strategy for the next month using all data you have with yourself.
You’ve To Stop Playing The Victim Card
It is important that you have to stop making excuses and face the problem right away.
This applies for time management and scheduling as well.
No matter how great your schedule is or even if you follow all these effective tips, if you end up making excuses for not doing it.
If you are a person who often starts a schedule or creates plans and does not withstand it, it is okay to acknowledge your failure.
And it is worst to blame it on your circumstances or any other people or things that happened.
At the end of the time, you have to follow the schedule and your set calendar, so you would have to make tough decisions.
So the first thing you should do is put yourself out of the victim’s place and put you in the trial.
See yourself making mistakes and find opportunities to rectify it. Say ‘no’ to unnecessary time requests or distractions and take control of your time.
Otherise, no amount of tips, strategies and tools can save your day going to waste, and eventually your life.
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Carol T. Mahaffey is a certified American Author And a creator of Theleaderboy. Carol is a Self-Taught Marketer with 10+ Years of Experience. She brings her decade of experience to her current role, where she is dedicated to writing books, blogs, and articles, inspiring the world on how to become a better Leader.