Be consistent, honor your own style, and make your calendar work for you. A few simple habits can make you much more efficient.
A powerful, customizable calendar is a wonderful thing. It can make your life and work easier, keep you organized, streamline your work, enable delegation, save you time, and help you avoid frustration.
However, it only works this way if you know how to make it work for you. If you only use your calendar halfway, or don’t learn how to make it function for your needs, you’ll be missing out.
1. Check your calendar at least twice daily.
Yes, some of you like to live in your calendar: keeping it open on a browser tab at all times, or frequently checking your mobile app. But there are many calendar users who have a set-it-and-forget-it approach: they input events and tasks in a big batch, then ignore their calendar for days at a time.
Consistency is key!
As with any tool, if you want it to make your daily life better, you need to use it daily. Make a habit of checking your calendar at least twice daily: once in the morning and once later in the day, such as late afternoon or before bed.
2. Put all the event information in the calendar.
Have you ever looked at a calendar event only to wonder what it’s all about?
The title is something like, “Call w/ BN, mtg, re: SRM prod.”
That probably seemed clear enough when you put it into your calendar, but your cryptic abbreviation may not make any sense days later. Then you view the event details only to see that there are no details.
To prevent useless or confusing events, make it a habit to put all the event information on your calendar… on the event itself!
- A clear, specific event title
- The actual time of the event, or note “TBD” if the time is not yet set
- The location, phone number, address, etc.
- Any special instructions (such as what app to use for a call)
- The names of people involved
- The details of what the event or task is
- Reminders of prep work to do before the event
- Materials to bring to the event
It only takes a couple of minutes to put all the information in your calendar, and it prevents much wasted time later. You won’t have to go digging through your notes or email, trying to find that phone number or name. Keep it in your calendar.
3. Set up your calendar for the way you think.
Customizing your calendar for the way you think can speed your processes and make everything easier. Different calendars have different customization options: the key is to think about what works for you, not what’s standard or traditional or expected.
For example, if you like to group certain tasks together, group them together: create one event and give yourself enough time to tackle all the related tasks at one time. If you like to do a certain task at the same time, create a repeating task for that specific time and day.
If you get motivated by logging your progress, use your calendar to keep track of the miles you’ve run, books you’ve read, or any other habit or achievement you’re pursuing.
If you like color, use lots of color! If you like a calmer visual appearance, stick to simpler, calm color schemes: blues and greens and grays.
The more your calendar reflects your personal preferences, the more enjoyable it is to use, and the more you’ll get out of it.
4. Use consistent terms for calendar events.
As you get in the habit of putting all the information in your calendar, you’ll notice patterns and repeating events and tasks. This is a good time to start paying attention to the terms and language you use. If you start using the same terms consistently, you’ll be able to search your calendar and find certain types of events easily when needed.
This can be a valuable tool when you want to see where your time and resources are going.
For example, if you want to review the time you’ve spent on staff training, it will be much easier if you’ve put the words “staff training” somewhere in each event. If each staff training event has a different event title (“workshop training” for one, and “staff team building day” for another), you’ll have to do more work to find all the relevant events.
As you use terms consistently, you can find event easier ways to categorize and sort events. For example, you might decide to create a separate sub-calendar for all staff training events. Or you could use a custom event field to have all your common terms as multiple-choice options. Then you can easily filter for the type of event you want to see.
5. Use your calendar in multiple ways.
A common user error when it comes to calendars is to think of a calendar as a tool with only one use, which is short-term planning and scheduling. However, you can use your calendar in many more ways.
- Do long-term planning to reach big goals and milestones.
- Log your habits and review your achievements.
- Collaborate on projects and events.
- Enable more autonomy for your family members or employees.
- Input, sort, and review data (fewer spreadsheets for everyone!).
- Keep client information and schedule follow-ups.
- Keep customer logs and purchase or service history.
- Track and record deliveries, shipments, and service visits.
- Gather feedback from events, seminars, workshops, etc.
How can your calendar work for you? Think of the types of activities and tasks you do on a daily basis. Are you repeatedly passing the same type of information to the same people? Answering the same questions over and over? Moving data from one place to another? Chasing people for date-and-time commitments?
Think about your calendar as a tool that can be used in many different ways, according to what you need. It’s in your hands!