Since 2014 is already here, a closer look at your calendar is a much needed boost of your productivity. With so many tools at hand, it has become increasingly simpler for the busy person of today to keep track of their activities, appointments, tasks, meetings, conferences, checkins, and what not.
If you stop and think that a well-kept and tidy calendar will, indeed, increase your productivity, help you focus on priorities, and also answer future questions when the frail human memory fails, then you should allow yourself no more than 2 hours and take a look at the way you should organize your calendar.
Start with the basics
In order to start your productive calendar, make a short list of the types of activities it would benefit you to have in your calendar. Some people prefer to have only “important” activities in their calendar, while others will list everything they do - as a way to commit to memory, and as a sourcebook for their productivity queries. As you do that list, why not also use a palette of colors for each of your headings? Color codes are easy to get accustomed to, and they will be helpful when you want to visualize items from only one category, for instance.
Decide on a calendar
Create a routine
Most calendars come with embedded options for information updates. For instance, a calendar that comes with a webpage, software, and app, will update the information in each regardless of the source of the input, and regardless of the target where you visualize the respective information. However, if you do not want to become muddled, or to forget where it is most likely to find specific calendar information, you should decide on a routine (for instance, inputting the calendar information solely on one platform). What is more, when you decide on a routine to follow, do not forget your color codes. It becomes obvious that calendars that you cannot check on all your devices are becoming less and less useful, so make sure you decide on the right calendar, and the right routine.
The reason why most people do not have a well-ordered calendar is that because they fear the amount of information that needs to be input. In recent years, however, a wealth of calendar resources and automations have replenished the market, to the extent to which calendar information can now be added to calendars without your interference. Such calendars may be already produced by you in daily activities (for instance reminders and tasks), by others (for instance birthday calendars of your contacts from LinkedIn or Facebook), or come as downloadable calendars you can add (ranging from national days and religious holidays to biorhythm information). These can be added as resources, or become updatable items in your calendar. Consider browsing icalshare.com for shared calendars if you want to know when your business partners from other parts of the world are away from the office, or when your body reaches physical, intellectual or emotional peaks and bottoms. “Train” your email address to transform all messages with “to do” in their subject line to become calendar entries with corresponding reminders.
Use IFTTT in order to pick up information from your apps and social networks and add it to your calendar automatically. Make use of the recurrent function. Ascertaining what is recurrent in your schedule is an important component of a disciplined calendar. Save time, and organize yourself better by noticing what is recurrent in your life (and what you could make recurrent), and with just a couple of more clicks populate your schedule with such recurrent entries. When they change, you can always choose to shift them around in your calendar, and apply changes to one single event that does not occur according to the plan, or all future occurrences.
Make your phone and computer work together.
Information you store in your calendars is versatile. A calendar entry you put in your calendar in your computer can become a reminder on your phone. A text message you send to yourself with a hashtag or specific wording may become a calendar entry. The ways in which you can make your phone and computer, so to say, your primary input source for calendars, work together (and work for you) is practically seamless.
Depending on your carrier settings, and operating system, some things will or will not be available, but there is a wealth of options for most users to get things to work. Don’t underestimate the power of voice personal assistants (such as Siri), which can make pertinent calendar entries for you from commands as simple as “Meet Mark on Tuesday at 5pm”.
Today’s calendars come with excellent sharing features. Not only can you share your own calendar entries (after all, a meeting implies always at least two parties), but you can also receive such entries from people you collaborate with, and accept or decline them in your calendar. Instill in your team and in your partners the will and pleasure of sharing common appointments. Rather than having 10 people create one and the same appointment, each in his or her calendar, create one and share it to the other users.
In this article, we have tried to show basic ways in which you can better manage your calendar, by taking advantage of current free market options available. Remember that, while calendars are key to productivity, since they enable you to be a better organized person and prioritize more, they also can be the object of optimization. The story of the perfect calendar is not yet written, but you can be part of its progress.
Photo Credits (Flickr): wenzday01, j_piepkorn65, rossMania, SuperFantastic