You’ve had a great holiday break and are returning to the office in January, excited to know what the new year is going to bring to your business. First meeting and you’re greeted with a list of new years resolutions from colleagues. Some plan to lose weight, others plan to finally master Spanish after six years of trying. There is a mix of large and small goals, very few of which will be achieved.
This year, you have the chance to be different. You can take control of your calendar, improve your productivity and show your teammates that new years resolutions don’t have to be empty promises.
We’ve come up with some tips to help you turbocharge your calendar management and set yourself up for a great new year.
Identify your priorities
Identifying your priorities is crucial when it comes to managing your time and getting on top of your calendar. This is particularly important for entrepreneurs and leaders. Without a clear understanding of what is important to you, it can be easy to get bogged down with tasks that you don’t need to focus on or that may not align with your goals and values. This can easily lead to feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and unproductive.
One effective way to help work out what your priorities are is to use the Eisenhower matrix. This tool was developed by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and is used to help individuals prioritize their tasks based on their level of importance and urgency.
To use the Eisenhower matrix, you first need to list all of your tasks and then place them into four categories:
Important and urgent: These are things that require immediate attention and should be completed first. For instance, dealing with an emergency.
Important but not urgent: These are tasks that are important but do not need to be completed right away. This could be things like creating a personal development plan.
Urgent but not important: Things that are pressing but are not necessarily important to what you want to achieve. Last-minute requests from others or non-essential meetings could fall into this category.
Not important and not urgent: Anything that falls in here can usually be eliminated or delegated and shouldn’t take up any of your time.
By placing everything you need to do into these categories, you can gain a better understanding of what is important to you and allocate your time accordingly.
It can also be helpful to create a values list - a set of principles that you want to achieve in your life. By regularly reviewing this list and making sure that your tasks align with your values, you can ensure you are using your time in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling.
Planning ahead is crucial for managing your time, that goes without saying. However, it’s also important for another reason - reducing stress.
One of the best ways to plan ahead is to create a schedule. This doesn’t have to be overly complicated and can be as simple as listing out weekly tasks or blocking out time to make sure you get things done. If you need to meet with people, creating a Booking Page can ensure the meeting aligns with your calendar and you know everything you need to beforehand.
Another advantage of planning ahead is that you can ensure you’re prepared for everything. If you know what’s coming up, you can have a contingency in place in case something unexpected happens.
Getting the most out of your calendar means staying organized. If you’re able to see what’s on your plate you can allocate time effectively.
One way to stay on top of things is to create a filing system in your inbox. With most people's calendars linked to their email, filling effectively in one benefits the other. Some possible categories include; appointments, work-related tasks and personal items. Color-code these different categories and when you look at your calendar you can easily get an overview of what’s coming up for a particular day, week or month.
The best meeting management practices start before the event, so one thing that’s also essential is to declutter regularly. This might involve going through your calendar and deleting or rescheduling tasks that are no longer relevant. Doing this regularly means you can avoid distractions, focus more on the meetings you need and improve productivity overall.
Use time-saving tools
The best calendar management app is the one that helps manage your time and organize your schedule more effectively. These can range from simple tools like Doodle that help you arrange time with people quickly, to more advanced tools like time-tracking software.
Time tracking software allows you to track how much time you spend on different tasks and projects, which can help identify areas where you may be able to streamline your process or be more efficient. Some software also has features like task scheduling and project management, to help you stay on top of your deadlines.
So it may seem counterintuitive, but taking regular breaks is essential for making the most of your time. It helps you stay focused and on top of everything you need to do.
One effective process you could adopt is called the Pomodoro Technique. This involves working for a set amount of time, usually around 25 minutes, followed by a short break of five minutes or so. You repeat this process throughout the day with longer breaks taken after every fourth "Pomodoro”. This is useful for helping you avoid burnout, as it ensures you constantly rest and recharge. If you create a Booking Page, you can create buffer times between meetings and incorporate this technique easily.
It’s also important to schedule break times into your calendar. This might include setting aside time for lunch or taking a walk to get some fresh air between tasks. Locking breaks into your calendar means you are far more likely to take them.
So while your colleagues are talking about new years resolutions with a slim to none chance of success, you can focus on sorting out your calendar, getting ahead of the game and setting yourself up for a very successful year.