Have you ever missed a deadline? Missed an appointment? Paid a late fee on a long overdue bill? If so, your calendar, or lack of keeping track, is likely to blame.
Some people resist using a calendar insisting they won’t forget a thing. Or, maybe they fiend it’s too complicate to manage or might make their schedule too rigid. In reality, setting up a calendar and regularly using it can be almost completely automated. When you take the time to schedule your work, you likely will discover you have more freedom in your day, not less.
How many emails does it take to schedule an interview or find out when your spouse has a free hour for an appointment? An average number is three; one to propose a time, another to say why that time isn’t good and suggest a different time, and a final confirming email. A total waste of time!
Instead, set up a shared calendar or appointment system where you can schedule meetings and appointments easily. Clients, your partner, or anyone else with access will see exactly what times are available and be able to select a time that works for them to. No more long email chains for a single, small task. You can achieve a similar system within your family by sharing a Google calendar. One quick check of the calendar lets you know your daughter has play rehearsal at that time, choose a different time. Those with access can update too so you can see in real time what is going on for each family member. This is a great idea when you have busy teenagers with ever changing schedules.
Not a To Do List
Productivity experts often times recommend using your calendar only for those things that must be done on a specific day. Your calendar is not your to-do list, it’s a schedule of appointments that are firm. By only scheduling that which must be completed, you leave the rest of your days open for more spontaneity, while still completing tasks on time.
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Keeping up with day-to-day appointments and managing deadlines is great, but smart entrepreneurs also use their calendar for long-term planning. Marketing schedules, planning sessions and speaking engagements are all wisely written on a calendar. That allows you to easily see what’s coming up and what you need to work on. Even if you’re not running a business this outlook can be helpful. Plug in your dates for a family vacation far into the future so that you can prepare. Your calendar doesn’t have to be etched in stone. It’s just a starting point.
Hand It Off
If you find yourself resisting using a calendar, outsource it! Your virtual assistant or in person assistant will most likely handle your calendar with more efficiency than you do, because they aren’t distracted by other things going on in your life. Also, with someone else managing your calendar, you’ll have more time for actually getting stuff done.