Your calendar is more than just jotting down important appointments, events, and activities on specific dates. You can do a lot more with the humble calendar like sending out meeting requests, setting reminders, and various other functions for better time management. If used correctly, calendars can save you and your executive time, keep you on schedule, provide you direction, and help you achieve more. Read on to discover the highly effective calendar management tips below.
Table of contents
- Calendar review for better preparation
- Meeting-free day for better focus
- Schedule at the soonest to avoid delays
- Scheduling tools for more productivity
- Following up to update status
- Reminder setting to avoid missing tasks
- Adding time zones for convenient scheduling
- Master calendar to keep it all together
- Meeting duration for more control
- Polite refusal for saving time
- Color coding for better categorization
- Block scheduling for uninterrupted performance
- Resolve conflicting schedules for better task management
- Identifying productivity hours for work optimization
- Calendar analysis for identifying scope for improvement
Calendar review for better preparation
After a rejuvenating weekend, take a look at how busy you are the week starting tomorrow. Instead of leaving things for the morning, why not have a peek at your calendar on Sunday evening? That way, you would be better prepared mentally for all that you have to tackle like making or responding to appointments, postponing them, or any other action. Also, You will be able to manage your workload more smoothly.
Better yet, give a calendar review every day before and after work so that you are aware of how much you have accomplished and which activities are left to do. Do the same with the calendar of your executive. Situations can change overnight so it’s a smart way of being on top of activities you have jotted down in your or the executive calendar. If you need to squeeze in a meeting due to unexpected changes, you can do so if you review your calendar daily.
Meeting-free day for better focus
Keep one day of the week in your calendar free from all meetings and appointments. You need to step back and actually do tasks without letting meetings get in the way. If anyone, even your executive, requests to meet you on that day, try to offer another time.
This is the only day of the week when you can put on your thinking cap, strategize, set goals, declutter your mailbox, make the pending phone calls and emails, and get things in line. To do all these things, you need to focus to make your calendar work for you.
This tip is also very important if you are the gatekeeper between your executive and the rest of the office as well as clients. The executive also needs to focus on his work without business meetings coming in his way. After all, he’s the one in charge of the business.
Schedule at the soonest to avoid delays
When you do a calendar review, you may feel that a meeting is in order. Find time to schedule it without any delay because procrastinating will only mean other people will have fewer chances of being free for you. Clearly state the meeting agenda and what’s expected from the executive and other attendees. Share your executive calendar with all concerned to avoid back-and-forth emails trying to get free time from everyone.
Scheduling tools for more productivity
Using calendar management tools and apps will be of immense help to boost your productivity and be the star in the eyes of your executive. An array of such tools are available to make the most of your schedule.
Use Google Calendar and share with all to schedule a meeting as everyone can see which slots are free. Microsoft’s FindTime feature does the same function. Outlook Mobile shows free slots as green and when there’s a conflict, it shows red. When someone schedules a meeting and you need to respond, all you need to do is click on the calendar icon and select the times you are free. With Calendly and Doodle, you can integrate all your calendars from Google, Outlook, etc.
If you’re an entrepreneur, an executive or an executive assistant, take advantage of these apps as you will be able to streamline your projects, make calendar management smoother, and be surprised at the amount of time you can have for dedicating to other tasks or people. In fact, schedule time for breaks and downtimes as well.
Following up to update status
Every meeting sets some actions for you, your executive, or others to perform. If you immediately schedule a follow-up meeting with all concerned, you are putting yourself and other people in a mode where you can’t miss doing the task and follow up as well with an update meeting. The marked day in your calendar won’t pass you by! This is one of the tips that gets overlooked quite often but is actually great for calendar management. Your executive may not remember what was discussed in the initial meeting, but it will refresh her memory in the follow up one.
Reminder setting to avoid missing tasks
We tend to spend a lot of time on business meetings but do we make sure that we schedule the action points? Setting reminders can ensure we don’t lose track of tasks and can improve calendar management. It can help you remember what exactly you or your executive needs to do before a meeting. For example, if you set a meeting reminder ten minutes before the meeting and jot down that you have to take printouts of the agenda, you are definitely not going to miss doing this important job. However, make sure that your calendars are not filled in with reminders only!
Adding time zones for convenient scheduling
If you are scheduling an appointment with clients or colleagues scattered all over the globe or with your executive when she’s traveling, make sure you add a time zone to your appointments. This will save you from setting a meeting time when it’s 10 in the morning for you but 2 in the morning for someone else. Dual time zones can be seen on Google calendar, Outlook, and other platforms.
Master calendar to keep it all together
If you maintain multiple calendars which you are likely to do if you are an executive assistant, you probably have to go back and forth on each one to check meetings and tasks. Why not have a master calendar where all your various calendar information is stored together? This will not only save your time but will also save you from forgetting which calendar to check as you can view these side by side. Therefore, make sure you import all your calendars onto a master calendar.
Don’t forget to include the personal calendar of your executive as you’re in charge of making and keeping track of appointments, and therefore this should not be ignored.
Meeting duration for more control
Keep the meeting duration short and to-the-point for effective calendar and executive management. Have more control over the start and end times of the meeting, the flow of the discussion, and how to get back to the topic when there is any deviation. The ideal duration of any meeting is 30 minutes unless it’s an annual company review.
Strictly maintain the start and end times and don’t wait for other attendees to join before you can start the meeting. Everyone concerned should be aware of the time well in advance and should therefore be professional about it.
Plus, if you think you need not attend the entire time, let the meeting organizer know beforehand that you would either join at the beginning or join later at the action planning and decision making stage. This is particularly applicable in case you’re an executive. Your time in business meetings should be spent only as long as there is concrete contribution from you. If necessary, mark time in your calendar that indicates how much time you should devote to any meeting.
Polite refusal for saving time
Sometimes you just have to say no to meetings where it’s clear that you don’t have any contribution to make and it would be a waste of time. You can either cancel such meetings or send someone else instead. This will save you time and simultaneously, help someone else in the teams to develop and grow in their role.
You should avoid attending status update meetings that are likely to last beyond 15 minutes. Plus, these can be done over messaging on Slack or following the boards, lists, and cards on Trello. As an exec, you should encourage people in your organization to cut down on such meetings and catch up electronically instead.
Color coding for better categorization
If you color code specific events, the calendar will show at a glance how many and what type of business meetings are waiting for you. Color coding helps better categorization of events. For example, if you apply yellow to all status update meetings, green to all client meetings, and red to all meetings with your supervisor, you need to look at your calendar only once to get an overview of your schedule.
When you are managing an executive calendar, color coding makes more sense as there are many types of projects and activities the executive is responsible for. It’s not humanly possible to remember all these activities. Our brains function better when we put information under different labels.
Block scheduling for uninterrupted performance
When you block time for similar jobs together, you get more work done without interruption. For example, if you assign one hour every day after lunch to go through and respond to all emails, you can do so without getting deviated from your work. As you practice this more, it will eventually be part of your routine and will keep you on track. This is especially true for an executive for whom time management is key to proper calendar management.
Resolve conflicting schedules for better task management
As soon as you spot that there are conflicting schedules, a calendar management tip is to resolve this immediately. The more you procrastinate scheduling meetings, the higher chances the issue will become bigger and out of your control. Weigh the meetings in terms of their importance and choose the one that needs your valuable input. Which not necessarily the one that you first agreed to attend. Moreover, this instant resolving of the matter also shows that you respect the time of the meeting organizer and you have not left it until the eleventh hour to regret the meeting.
Identifying productivity hours for work optimization
Not everyone is at their optimal productivity during the same hours of the day. While some of us work better early in the morning where there’s nobody to interrupt us, other people work better after lunchtime and are at the peak of their productivity curve.
When you manage your calendar and schedule meetings, pay attention to these productivity peaks. Scheduling a strategy meeting for your executive who can give their most from 9 am to 12 noon works best for work optimization. During their less productive hours, you can set one-to-one or review meetings with their direct reports or team members. Mechanical jobs like calling back someone or responding to routine emails can also be scheduled during such times when productivity is falling.
You have to pay attention to whose value at a meeting counts the most and how productive he or she is during the hours you plan to set the meeting.
Calendar analysis for identifying scope for improvement
Last but not least on the list of effective scheduling tips is your calendar analysis. Scheduling every meeting, every task, every reminder on your calendar is all well and good. But what do you do with so much data? You analyze them of course!
The benefit of analyzing your calendar data is that it’s going to make you and your executive even more productive. That’s because it will tell you where and how you have been spending your time. Using TimeTackle, you can make the most of calendar analysis. This tool captures all your calendar data, helps you to add tags with its calendar tag feature to your events to add more specific info. Also gives you bar and pie charts to show you exactly how you or your executive have spent your working hours.
By analyzing your calendar, you can identify the scope for improvement for yourself, your executive, or your teammates. TimeTackle Analytics feature shows your planned versus actual time spent on specific tasks, broken down further into narrower specifics. For example, under a broad task like a meeting, you can add specifics like whether it was a sales or marketing meeting, which project was discussed, how high it is on the priority list, and so on. Thus, when you press the Analytics button on the menu of the TimeTackle web app, you will be served with sensible pictographs that pinpoint the specific jobs you performed along with the time. These will enable you to improve your productivity as you can identify which tasks should get more focus from you.
If you are an executive assistant, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that he or she has been utilized optimally. You should analyze their calendars to identify which tasks or projects took up most of their time and if there’s a better way to manage their schedules.
Effective schedule management tips can help you save time, be more productive, be more selective about meeting attendance, be more aware of planned versus actual time spent on specific activities, and follow a stress-free routine. If you’re an executive assistant, read about how to manage an executive calendar effectively on our blog that has plenty of dope on this topic. Moreover, if you want to know how to effectively manage a diary, you will find all the answers in the FAQ section of the same blog.