Calendars and reminders are two of the three critical component of your time management system. The third element is the To Do list which is a topic for another day. You can use calendars and reminders to help you “drive your day” rather than have the “day drive you”. Here are some tips:
Ten Thoughts on Using Calendars and Reminders to Maximize Your Productivity.
1. Use your calendar religiously … it should always reflect what you are doing. That will help you and anyone wanting to schedule a meeting with you. It also means that you can see at a glance what your days and weeks look like. Use it for both work and personal activities!
2. You should always have your calendar with you. Having your PDA synched with an online calendar is certainly a preference, but some people still prefer their old “Daytimer”… as long as it works for everyone (your company may insist on automation) then make sure it is current.
3. You should review the calendar every evening, making sure you know exactly what your upcoming days look like and that you have not missed anything.
4. If you have regular activities then they should be reflected in your calendar. This might include weekly/monthly report preparation, regular meetings with your boss/team, regular meetings with clients/contacts etc. It might also include personal appointments for fitness, hobbies, family etc.
5. You should plan time into your schedule for “high return activities”. If you are in sales that might mean time for setting up meetings and cold/warm calling.
6. When you put meetings into your calendar you should allow travel time too … so you, and others know when you are actually available. Note: If you are travelling anyway can you add other meetings near that location?
7. You should set appropriate reminders for all of your meetings. If you will need to travel somewhere the reminder should allow time for you to get ready, travel and arrive on time; if it is a meeting in your office then maybe a 10 minute warning works fine.
8. You should use reminders for tasks that you need to get done. This might include follow up to client meetings, setting up “next meetings”, reports that need to be done etc.
9. Your high value To Do items on your To Do list should be reflected in your calendar/reminders to ensure you are on top of them and have time set aside for them.
10. On a weekly basis you should do a full calendar review. In your weekly review ensure that your high priority items are moving forward in a timely manner; that all regular activities are reflected in your calendar (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual); think of ways to maximize your time; and understand where you might be wasting time.
Time management is never done, it requires effort and thought, it needs to evolve with you and it can always be improved. Your system will change as your role changes and it will change as you become more proficient in your role.
The effort is worth it … you will be more productive in your work time, and you will have more control of your free time!