By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars
There is nothing worse than not knowing what you have going on in a day, especially at work. While we’ve discussed the importance of pre-planning, there is another vital tool that is essential in managing your time – a calendar. Reality is, without the assistance of a calendar, even the most organized person will struggle with making a meeting on time or turning in a project before the deadline.
If you're one of those people who still uses a planner, you're not alone. However, this doesn’t mean you should forgo your digital calendar. From color coordination to the ability to share with colleagues, digital calendars are necessary in the workplace.
If you don’t know where to start with organizing your calendar, we’re here to help. Below you will find our three top tips for getting your schedule together and ultimately mastering the art of time management.CATEGORIZE & COLOR CODE
One of the best ways to make your calendar easy to read is to create categories for the various items filling your time. Below you will find five essential categories we recommend implementing into your calendar. However, don’t restrict yourself to just these categories. Depending on your industry or job description, you may need more or, if you’re lucky, less!
- Mandatory: Whether it is internal (with colleagues) or external (with clients), these are meetings or events you must not miss.
- Optional: Anything you’d like to attend, but you don’t have to attend. Can include work-related events (seminars, lunches) or personal plans (workouts, happy hours).
- Out of Office: Keep track of any time that would be spent out of the office. This could be office-wide holidays, vacation time, work from home days or personal appointments.
- Reminders: Calendars can also be utilized to set reminders of important items coming up, such as urgent deadlines.
- Do Not Disturb: Periods of time where you will be plugging in and working on high-priority task – not spending hours responding to emails.
Once you’ve categorized, we also suggest assigning a color to each category. For example, you can set all mandatory meetings to green, meaning "go". Another way to color code is based on what the color represents. To help, check out this article from HubSpot on the colors behind productivity.
LEAVE WHITE SPACE
Once your calendar is categorized and color coded, you should have a better grasp on the day at hand and the week ahead. However, amidst all the color, it is essential to leave some white space in your calendar every day. This white space should be used to answer emails, work on the projects at hand or to even take a breather.
You’ll also want to make sure there is enough white space between meetings, so that you may have plenty of time to travel from one location to the next. Plus, seeing white space should help lessen any feelings of stress due to overscheduling.KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO
Overextending yourself can be detrimental to your productivity and mental sanity. As a meeting-setter, be aware of not only your own schedule, but also those you need to meet with. Knowing when an email or conference call could suffice in lieu of a meeting is a skill your colleagues will thank you for.
As an attendee, learn when it is appropriate to suggest a different meeting time or decline an invite all together. If you’re unsure how to do so gracefully, check out this article from Harvard Business Review. At the end of the day, your calendar must make sense to you. In addition to lessening the risk of missing a deadline or meeting, an organized calendar should also help ease any uncertainty of what’s to come.
Once you’ve implemented the above, it is important to continue to practice good scheduling habits and maintain a clean calendar. In doing so, we think you’ll find it a little easier to get through your work week with your sanity still in check!