Depending on your goals and life stage, success looks a little different for everyone. For entry-level employees, success may mean being positive while assisting others with their various needs. Managers may succeed in empowering and motivating their employees to take on bigger projects. Executives and CEOs will likely feel successful if their company is thriving and profitable. Regardless of role or responsibility, a successful day can often look like being productive and crossing everything off your to-do list.
Time management is one of the most essential skills that anyone can benefit from. Accomplishing things efficiently and on time means you do more in less time. You’ll feel successful knowing that your ability to focus on a task at hand pays off, allowing you more free time. Time management also considers prioritizing what is really important and recognizing what can wait. Not everything is of the utmost importance, even if it can sometimes feel like an overwhelming amount of tasks are on your plate.
Achieving your time management goals can begin with a well-organized calendar. How calendars are used, and the purpose of them has evolved as work and life demands have evolved. Today’s digital calendars offer more built-in tools and capabilities than ever before. The key is to know how to use these new features and make them work for your time management needs. Below are three pro tips on implementing these calendar tools for overall success.
1. Know Where You’re Spending Your Time
Each week, each month, each year goes by in a flash. As a result, you may not realize where your minutes each day are actually going. While you may habitually say that you’re busy at work, that may not be the case. You and your team may meet this week for a stand-up call but spend half the time discussing your upcoming weekend plans. When the meeting ends, you realize you didn’t get the information you needed and need to send a Slack or email as well.
While forming these interpersonal connections with your colleagues is important, there’s a difference between chitchatting occasionally and being productive. Knowing where you’re spending your time can help you stop these tendencies from occurring in the first place. Calendar.com’s analytics tool enables you to track your time so you know exactly where it’s going. This tool lets you easily view what meetings take up most of your time and how they compare to other meetings. You can compare the chunk of time for your stand-ups and one-on-one meetings with your employees and leadership team.
Knowing this information means that you can change and pivot your meeting schedule. Perhaps the weekly stand-up would be better served if it was 15 instead of 30 minutes. Soon, Calendar.com will also be releasing “Places” and “People” tracking for Pro users. Scheduling a meeting spot for clients can be a waste of time, so Calendar.com will suggest places as you’re scheduling time together. You’ll also get a sense of which coworkers you’re spending your time with the most, whether that’s colleagues or your significant other.
2. Customize Appointment Slot Durations
How often has an appointment ended early, and you’re waiting for another one to begin? A few spare minutes is nothing to complain about, but you may be distracted before the next appointment. It’s easier to recheck your email or scroll social media than to begin a new project when you have less than 10 minutes before your next call. Thankfully, a solution exists for Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook users.
Released in October 2023, Google Calendar allows 5-14 minute appointments. Previously, the shortest duration available was 15 minutes. While meeting with a new client will likely take longer than 15 minutes, a short sync may only need a few minutes. Having clients pick what time slot they need keeps everyone on task, allowing you to be more productive during the day.
To set up this feature, click on “appointment schedule” and then “set up the schedule” from the “create” tab of your calendar. You can customize appointment slot durations by creating or editing a current appointment. Select “custom” and enter a duration, such as 10 minutes. Your appointment schedules will show by default, but you can always hide them under “view switcher.”
For Microsoft Outlook users, Bookings With Me is a similar feature which allows others to schedule an appointment slot with you directly. This feature was introduced at the beginning of 2023 and is similar to Google Calendar’s setup. The default times range from 15 minutes to 60 minutes, but you can also customize your time slots. Go to “Creating Booking Pages” under the Calendar tab to create a public or private appointment page.
3. Create Structure in Your Day
Nobody really thrives without some sense of structure. Although work and personal fire drills will arise, derailing you occasionally, creating structure is important. Without some sense of routine, you’re much more likely to miss important tasks. You may feel stressed and anxious because you’re hopping from one task to another.
Having control of your day puts you in the driver’s seat. This can look like scheduling all of your meetings in the afternoon so you can focus on deep work in the morning. Or, it may look like blocking off time on your calendar for a lunchtime walk or yoga class. Regardless of how you structure your day, your calendar can help.
Most digital calendars, including Apple iCloud, Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, and Calendar.com, allow you to set recurring appointments. Use this tool to your advantage, blocking off time for you during the time. If you’re prone to skipping lunch altogether, add a 30-minute block at the same time every day so nobody can schedule a meeting during it. The same goes for frequently taking calls while picking up your kid from school. You’ll get back to your desk feeling more fulfilled that you could spend that time with your child than ignoring them while on a work call.
In addition, adding color to your digital calendar can also be a way to add in some structure. Color-coding your calendar can boost your productivity as you’ll quickly be able to glance at where your priorities are for the day. You can start by making one task a specific color, such as your weekly yoga class. Then, apply this color to all of your workout sessions. Go task by task until all of your regular events are different shades. Do some analysis to see where you may want to switch things up to create more ease and structure in your life.
No matter how you define success, you want to go to bed each night feeling accomplished with what you achieved. This feeling may not happen daily, but with the correct calendar tools, you’re helping set yourself up for success. Try these pro time management tips and see which ones make the most sense for your professional and personal needs.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jess Bailey Designs; Pexels