Time management has always been a burning issue for entrepreneurs – and even more so since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and move to hybrid working. Schedules have become more chaotic, with data showing that workers have become busier and are working longer hours.
Juggling the scheduling for meetings puts even more pressure on those with little time to spare; but calendars can also be a powerful tool to help manage workloads. If used effectively they can save you time, keep you on schedule, provide you with direction, and help you accomplish more.
Here are four calendar tricks that will help keep you organised, focused and productive.
Block out ‘me time’
Allocate blocks of ‘Focus Time’ each week to give you a chance to step back and complete tasks without anything getting in the way. During these blocks of time, you should have no meetings or calls, avoid checking emails as they come in, and remove all distractions (e.g. turn off social media notifications and put your mobile on silent).
It takes approximately 23 minutes for your brain to get into deep focus again after each interruption. Blocking out this time can help you to stay focused, which will reduce stress and help you produce higher quality work. When you do this, achieving a state of uninterrupted flow is easier; when your brain doesn’t have to keep switching between tasks your productivity goes up.
Use calendar management tools
There are many different tools and integrations available that can help make calendar management easier, saving time and boosting productivity. Evernote’s calendar feature allows you to bring your notes, schedule, and tasks together, removing friction so you can get more done with less effort.
It also helps you prepare for meetings faster, ahead of time or when the meeting starts. For example, you can create a pre-formatted meeting note that automatically fills in details from your calendar, like name, date, video call links, and attendees. Or, if you prefer to prep ahead of time, you can link an existing note to the calendar event. One click and you’ll find all the relevant info for your meeting in one place, ready to go. All of these seconds saved can add up in a big way.
Simplify appointment scheduling
As mentioned, data shows the average worker is spending more time in team sync meetings. Even the act of scheduling these meetings puts pressure on time. Doodle and Calendly offer great free services for scheduling meetings with Outlook, Gmail, and other email providers.
These tools offer an easy way for clients and colleagues to book time with you, rather than spending time manually trawling through a stream of emails or messages and schedules. Simply set your availability, share your link, let them select an available time, and the event is automatically added to your calendar.
Also, remember to schedule time in your diary for basic personal tasks like exercising and spending time with family. That way your calendar is blocked and no one can book with you during that time. This is important as it allows you to take a break and stay healthy – both mentally and physically.
Enable notifications for appointments
Notifications can help you stick to your schedule without needing to continually check your schedule. When you have Evernote and Google Calendar connected, for example, you get a prompt shortly before your meetings, when they start, or right after they end, so you’ll never forget to take notes or need to hunt down material you’ve prepared in advance. With event notifications you’ll take better notes, be ready for action, and get more done each day.
Ultimately, entrepreneurs need to adapt to hybrid working to remain as focused and productive as possible. Using calendars effectively is a great way to achieve this by saving time, staying on schedule, providing you with direction and helping you accomplish more.