Top 9 Scheduling and Calendar Management Tips to Make the Best Use of Your Time and Boost Productivity
Have you ever had a day on which you were sure that you could have checked all boxes on your To do list, but because of a little mismanagement, you ended up doing little and became extremely anxious by the end of the day?
We all have been there and know how it feels.
And in order to make our days better, we frantically try out different methods to be productive. Productivity primarily starts with planning and managing your daily calendar and schedule.
So, if you are a business owner looking for the best ways to organize your calendar or just an individual searching for tips on how to schedule your day to avoid draining yourself, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are the top 9 schedule and calendar management tips to help you organize your calendar and stay on top of your game:
- Write down your goals for the week
- Create a priority matrix
- Use the Pomodoro technique
- Color-code your calendar
- Eat the frog
- Follow the 4 D’s of time management
- Identify your productivity peak and start time blocking
- Schedule in buffer time
- Optimize your service calendar using cross-platform tools
1. Write down your goals for the week
Writing down and planning out your weekly goals can help you protect your time and energy like a hawk. It also gives you time and space to figure out how you are going to fit everything into your calendar, rather than having to do everything at the last minute.
This step is even more essential if you are a business owner or manager and have a team of people working with you. Planning out your week’s schedule and communicating to the relevant stakeholders is the core of any business running smoothly.
Here are few important tips to help you plan your goals for the week:
- Break down your long-term goals into smaller weekly tasks: Breaking your larger goals into smaller manageable ones is essential to get things done. Finishing one small piece at a time can help you finish your puzzle faster rather than pondering too much about the mess.
- Set goals for each week on Monday mornings: Starting from our school days, our mind is tuned to believe Monday to be a fresh start. And there is no better day than Monday to set targets and goals for the week. Set yourself around 30-45mins on a Monday morning to plan for the week ahead.
- Have a to-do list: Maintain your to-do list digitally using notes or in an excel sheet or better have a to-do list integrated into your calendar. If you want, you may further segregate your to-do list into a to-contact list or to-notify list etc. But make sure you add both personal and professional commitments to your list so that you can prioritize whenever necessary.
- Review your previous week’s tasks on Friday evenings: Nobody is perfect. And it is important to know not all checkboxes in your weekly to-do list might get checked every week. And that is fine. What is important is that you are aware of your pending work and still manage to finish before a deadline. Set aside 30 mins on Friday evenings to review your tasks for the previous week and keep a note of which ones need to be rolled over to the next.
2. Create a priority matrix
Have you ever been in a situation where you have a lot of work at hand, but don’t know where to start? So you make a quick decision and take up a task only to realize later that you had deprioritized something that needed immediate attention?
You can avoid these situations by establishing priority in an organized manner.
Prioritizing is necessary in order to complete everything that needs to be done in the right order. The Eisenhower box or priority matrix is a method that can help you organize your calendar tasks and decide priority.
According to Wikipedia, in the Eisenhower priority matrix,
“All tasks are evaluated using the criteria important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent and put in according to quadrants. Tasks in unimportant/not urgent are dropped, tasks in important/urgent are done immediately and personally, tasks in unimportant/urgent are delegated and tasks in important/not urgent get an end date and are done personally. This method is said to have been used by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and is outlined in a quote attributed to him: What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
While setting priority, you can ask yourself questions on the tasks and assign them to one of the 4 quadrants. For example, is task X critical and needs to be attended to immediately? Or is task Y critical but doesn’t need to be addressed immediately and you have a couple of days before it becomes critical and immediate?
After which, color code them on your to-do list on your calendar to determine which task is of what order of priority. Review your calendar every day in the morning and change the color of priority according to your day. This routine will immensely pump up your calendar management skills and help you make the best use of your scheduling tools.
3. Use the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down tasks into intervals, usually 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a Pomodoro, from the Italian word for ‘tomato’, after the tomato-shaped timer that Cirillo used as a university student.
There are 6 steps to the original technique. Which are:
- Decide on the task to be done
- Set a Pomodoro timer on your phone or laptop (traditionally to 25 mins)
- Work on the task
- End the work when the timer goes out and put a checkmark on a paper
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break of about 3–5 minutes and then return to step 2; otherwise continue to step 6.
- After four Pomodoros, take a longer break of 15–30 minutes, reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
The best way to go about using the Pomodoro technique efficiently in today’s times is by getting yourself a Pomodoro app and integrating it into your calendar management software on your laptop. This will seamlessly integrate with your calendar tasks without you having to put much thought into it and you will be on track to having productive workdays.
4. Color-code your calendar
Our brain functions better when we put things under a label. Color coding your calendar does the same. It helps you visualize your tasks.
Categorizing and color coordinating your calendar is an easy way to have your day’s overview at a glimpse.
This works not only for individuals but does wonders for business owners and managers as well. Color coding your calendar can give an overview of your business day and help you collaborate effectively with your team.
You can color-code your calendar on the basis of personal/ work time, or based on the priority of the task. For example, you can color your meeting with clients orange and the ones with your superior yellow, use red for detail-oriented tasks, purple for creative ones, and so on.
5. Eat the frog
If you were to have a frog every day of your life, you would rather get done with it the first thing in the morning than spending the whole day grumpy thinking that the worst part of the day is yet to come. Here, the frog is referred to as the most dreaded task you have in store for you.
There are three steps to getting the chunkiest or dreaded task done:
Step 1: Identify your frog – Identify the most challenging task you have for the day. If you have more than one, then prioritize using the priority matrix as discussed in point 2.
Step 2: Eat the frog– Finish the most dreaded/ important task. Allot an hour at the beginning of your work day’s calendar to get started with it. You may require more time with that task, but once you get in the momentum, it’ll become easier from there
Step 3: Repeat it– Keep doing this in each one of your workdays and see the magic work for you. This will keep you stress-free for the rest of the day and also, you would have finished your major task by the time other people are just figuring out what to start with.
6. Follow the 4 D’s of time management
Since office time is limited for everyone, efficiency depends on their ability to prioritize and drop tasks that are unnecessary.
The 4 Ds — delete, delegate, defer and do — make it easier for people to discern what tasks truly matter.
In simple words, the 4 Ds of time management can streamline the decision-making process and increase productivity by allocating resources strategically.
Let’s look at the 4D’s in-depth:
- Delete: Learning to say ‘No’ can filter out your to-do list. You can do away with the clutter of work such as junk emails, unimportant meetings, etc to make room for core work. Tasks that might have felt important at the start of the week might end up being redundant at present. So, it is important to get rid of such tasks to make your calendar look clutter-free.
- Delegate: Reassigning work is a virtue that one needs to learn as they go up the work ladder. It is one of the most strategic methods to get work done if the person the task is being reassigned to has the relevant skills.
- Defer: Tasks that you might have scheduled might not look as urgent in real-time. There might be some time-sensitive work that needs to be attended to. Deferring tasks in online scheduling calendars like Appointy is super easy. Just with a simple drag and drop feature, you can reschedule tasks, meetings, etc.
- Do: It is as straightforward as it gets. These are tasks that are in hand and need to be completed in a stipulated time.
These four Ds can help you decide whether to take up work now, later, or never.
7. Identify your productivity peak and start time blocking
There is a scientific reason as to why working too much can kill your productivity. You can find your most productive work hours by looking closely at your daily habits as well as your energy and focus levels. For example, you will likely figure out whether you are an early bird or a night owl based on when you feel the most attentive and productive.
After identifying your productivity peak, determine what holds you back from getting work done. Whether it is distractions, or multitasking, or procrastination, or anything such. Specifically, target your weaker area and work towards surpassing it.
This brings me to time blocking as the next step. According to Widrich reports our brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break. Why is that so? It’s the ultradian rhythm, a cycle that’s present in both our sleeping and waking lives. As this is almost uniform to everyone, it’ll put you in a better position than the rest if you use it to your advantage.
Block time slots of 90 mins in your calendar in which you consciously try to finish your tasks without distractions. Politely say ‘no’ to meetings and other collaborative work during that period and try your best to get the most out of yourself during those 90 mins.
Bonus tip for time blocking if you are a business owner:
Time blocking can be interpreted in many forms. For a business owner with staff and client appointments each day, time blocking can simply mean that you block time for a certain recurring task on your calendar. Say, you have to have a meeting with a vendor every 15 days, for events like these, set a recurring time block in your calendar for how much ever time is required for that meeting.
This can be applicable to your staff as well. Flexibility is the key in most workplaces, and allowing your staff to have control over their calendar, rearrange tasks according to their convenience can promote a healthy workplace.
With calendar tools like in Appointy, staff can have their individual login into their own calendar- scheduling platform and time block tasks, meetings, out of work hours, appointments, etc in just a few clicks.
8. Schedule in buffer time
The majority of people are fairly good at planning their schedule when they take time to map out things ahead. We know how long a meeting will go on, or how many minutes it will take to go somewhere.
But it is almost always that we consider the ideal situation. In reality, the most unexpected thing pops up and disturbs our whole day’s schedule.
So how do you plan out the unexpected and stay on track?
You schedule in buffer time.
It is like adding a padded layer of extra time after your ideal time for completing a task so that if something unforeseen happens, you have enough time to get back on track.
You can calculate your buffer time estimate by relooking at tasks you’ve already completed and calculating your “Fudge Ratio”. For example, if you had scheduled 12 hours to complete a certain task and it took you 15 hours to actually finish it, the fudge ratio would be 15/12= 1.25%. This means it took you 25% longer than you expected. So you schedule in 25% more time as a buffer for the next time you take up the same task.
For recurring or similar patterned tasks, you can calculate the Fudge ratio and incorporate it into your calendar. Buffer time can also be considered as the time gap between each task that you’ll require to rejuvenate.
In service businesses like that of a salon or spa, these buffer times are extremely crucial. You never know what might just pop up right after a haircut appointment. It could be a delay in payments or just the customer taking a bit too long in exchanging pleasantries.
So, it is important that you schedule buffer times into your staff calendar so that the subsequent appointments don’t get hampered. With calendar management tools like Appointy, setting these buffer times is super easy and can be customized according to your needs.
9. Optimize your service calendar using cross-platform tools
Gone are the days when you could manage multi-national companies with just folders and paper clips. In such a fast-paced world, even individuals need multiple software to keep track of their day.
Getting software and tools that can seamlessly inter perform and communicate is important whether it is for you as an individual or for a team to function smoothly. This can include having a video conferencing software such as Zoom merged with your calendar or if you are a business owner, having scheduling features for your business integrated into your service calendar, or having a client database accessible through your calendar in just a few clicks.
Also, if you are a manager or owner of a business, it is essential that you have access to your team’s working calendar so that you can delegate work accordingly. So, it is important to have a platform that gives a birds-eye view of your entire business’s schedule and promotes collaborative work.
You could use different tools and software for managing your work calendar but we’ve brought to you an all-in-one calendar scheduling tool that your business will ever need.
Appointy: The one calendar scheduling software you’ll ever need
Calendar management can get way easier if you have scheduling features integrated into it. If you are a business owner, this feature can truly be a boon to your business.
How easy would it be for a salon owner if a client books an appointment for a haircut online and the time slot gets booked in the relevant staff’s calendar? Imagine how much time and labor it will save, which would have been wasted in just information collection and communication?
This is applicable to almost any business, be it product-based or service-oriented.
Appointy fits in the shoe of a perfect calendar scheduling software. It works as both your online appointment calendar and also your work schedule calendar.
Still not convinced?
Let’s look at in-depth how Appointy calendar-booking software works:
- It automates both client and staff scheduling and seamlessly integrates with the work calendar. It also enables you to create and update appointments in seconds even from your calendar page.
- Helps you get an instant overview of appointments and work calendar that can be accessed from anywhere, even on the go.
- Keeps your schedule organized by having customizable calendar features with filters for tasks, staff information or client data, and other features such as task color coordination, time blocking, buffer time, etc.
- Allows separate admin and staff login so that they can plan out their day’s work autonomously but still be able to collaborate with others.
- Enables users to have convenient online meetings. Appinty’s integration with Zoom seamlessly incorporates into the work calendar helping users to attend meetings just in a few clicks.
- Aids in maintaining your online booking calendar from any device and helps you manage different business locations.
- You might have struggled many a time with managing multiple calendars, but with Appointy online calendar management you can sync your work calendar with your personal calendar so that you can seamlessly switch between your work and personal life.
Appointy precisely is the one calendar scheduling software that you’ll be needing to manage and grow your business.
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”-John D. Rockefeller
You might have become too comfortable maintaining all of your days’ schedules in pen and paper without any proper structure which might be the root cause of your day-to-day management troubles, but you just don’t know yet.
There are certain aspects of schedule and calendar management like setting buffer time, coordinating appointments, etc, that cannot be done on pen and paper as easily as digitally.
So, don’t be scared to leave your comfort zone for something bigger and better.
Hope you implement and get fruitful results from these schedule and calendar management tips and tricks.
Keep learning. Keep growing.
Here’s a cookie for staying till the end of this blog.
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
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