How to Keep Your Calendar Clean and Organized
If you look at your calendar, is it clear where you need to be today?
Or is it a jumbled jig-saw puzzle of overlapping appointments and meetings?
Keeping your calendar in check is key to having a smooth and productive day.
Today, I share 10 tips to help you simplify your calendar and keep things organized on your schedule.
Keeping Your Calendar Simple
Some people are afraid to use their calendars. They leave it blank and unused because they are worried about committing to appointments and obligations.
Others make the opposite mistake of over-complicating their calendar to the point that it becomes a confusing mess of multiple schedules, conflicting appointments, and unnecessary meetings.
Calendars don’t come with instructions and many people just make it up as they go along. Their calendar setup is a confused mess: they have multiple calendars, disconnected systems, and conflicting obligations.
Here are a few calendar questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have more than one calendar?
- Do you put all of your appointments in your calendar?
- Does your schedule have back-to-back or overlapping meetings?
- Do you review it in advance or only the moment before you need to be somewhere?
The truth is that you don’t need to over-complicate things. In fact, the simpler your calendar setup, the better.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend an inordinate amount of time “planning your calendar.” In fact, it should only take a few minutes of your day to stay on top of things.
Here are 10 Tips to Help Keep Your Calendar Simple and Efficient:
- You Can Say No, Even If You Already Said Yes – Many people think that once something is on their calendar, that they can’t change it. Not true! Just because a meeting is on your calendar doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind later. It is your time, reclaim it if circumstances change. Of course, ensure that you give adequate notice of your changing plans.
- Don’t Allow Conflicts to Stand – It is not uncommon to end up with overlapping appointments. It happens. However, letting those conflicts stand is asking for life friction and stress. Make sure you resolve calendar conflicts as soon as you identify them. After all, you cannot be in two places at once.
- Eliminate Back-to-Back Appointments – Back-to-back meetings have become the norm in many workplaces. However, butting one meeting up to another ensures that you will be late to the second meeting. I have observed executives continue to get later and later in the their schedule, and by the last meeting of their day they are 30 minutes or more late in arriving.
- Block time for your work – If you only have meetings from other people on your calendar, you will be working on their priorities all day. Make sure you block out time for your work. Make appointments for your tough tasks and important projects.
- Block Lunch If You Must – Some individuals seem to forget that you have to eat at some point in your day. Others will neglect to consider the time zone difference. If you are constantly receiving lunch time meeting requests, then block out your lunch hour. If someone really needs to meet, then you can resolve the conflict with your lunch.
- Start Early – One of best tactics to get ahead of your calendar is to start your day early. When you get going before others do, you get a jump-start on the day and can accomplish many of your top tasks before others even get into gear for the day.
- End on Time – Set a designated end time to your calendar day, whatever is appropriate for your workplace. Then make sure that you stop at that designated time. You will be amazed to find that work and meetings tend to end on time when you have a stop point.
- Don’t Accept Meetings without an Agenda or Purpose – Keep your calendar free of time-wasting obligations by declining “bad meetings.” These are meeting requests with no detail. No agenda, no purpose, and sometimes not even a topic. If someone cannot tell you what they need to meet about, it is probably not going to be a useful investment of your time.
- Avoid Standing Meetings – Repeat standing meetings are usually repeat wastes of time. Avoid standing meetings that are simply “check-in” or “status” checks. Rather, only schedule time when important decisions need to be addressed. Some companies have gone as far as to ban “standing” meetings to minimize wasted meeting time.
- Set a Meeting Duration of 30 Minutes – It seems that Outlook and other systems, default to a “1 hour” meeting appointment. Instead, try “cutting your meetings in half,” by setting a standard meeting duration of 30 minutes. Most meetings don’t need longer, and simply expand to fit the time allowed.
Keep Your Calendar Clean
Your calendar doesn’t have to be a cluttered mess of back-to-back and overlapping appointments.
Avoid those unnecessary time-sucking meetings, make sure to say “No” when appropriate, and always make time for your work and priorities.
When you keep your calendar clean and simple, you’ll get more done in your day and have less stress doing it.