Making Your Calendar Work For You
It seems for every advance we make in technology and connectivity, the looser our grasp on an ever busying calendar. The demands for our time don’t seem to be slowing down, so how can we maximize it instead? For many, the “calendar” has become the enemy, but I would argue that with a few simple new practices, it can be your best friend.
Prioritize & Visualize
Sometimes we’re so busy adding things to our calendar and to-do lists we don’t stop to think about where these things fall in our list of priorities. When you add a new item, take a moment to think about where it fits into the whole picture. One way to help this habit stick is to use a visual tool by creating a few different categories and assigning those categories a color. This will allow you to glance at your calendar and quickly assess what things are the most important. You can categorize by level of immediacy, by type of event, or another system that works best for you.
Multitasking Isn’t Always the Answer
You know when you try to add something to your calendar and you get an alert that there’s a conflict? There’s a reason for this notification. According to the American Psychology Association, based on years of research, it has been proven time and again that “Doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity.” While you may think you’re multitasking, you’re actually task-switching which ultimately results in a loss of productivity. So the next time you’re tempted to schedule a call during your dedicated daily budgeting time, think about how productive that will actually be. Utilizing the above prioritizing tip, you should be able to easily decide which activity needs to be on your calendar.
Know What’s On Deck
Once you have your calendar organized for optimization, be sure to look at it. In the morning, check your calendar for the day so you know what’s in store and can make any last minute adjustments to your schedule. You can even do this while you’re making your morning coffee; just ask Siri or Alexa for a rundown. Author Note: This type of multitasking is perfectly acceptable! Forbes suggests doing this at the end of the week as well; “Every Friday, review your calendar and ask yourself how you spent your time during the previous seven days. Then look at the coming week and consider how you want to spend your time.”
What you want to accomplish and what you actually can accomplish don’t always line up. It’s crucial to be realistic about your schedule and your abilities. Whether it’s fear of missing out, a self-inflicted sense of obligation, or a million other reasons that push us to always say yes, sometimes the best thing you can do is say no. A “no” to a meeting invite is better than being an hour late because you overbooked yourself. And if it’s something you absolutely can’t say no to (a priority) then determine what other tasks you can delegate. If you have an owner in town that wants to meet for lunch, ask another member of your team if they can cover the vendor call you originally had scheduled. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It takes a village!
We’re connected 24/7 and our calendars certainly reflect that. But don’t forget what 24/7 stands for. You only have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. Figure how to optimize those hours and days, and be honest with yourself about time being a limited resource. If you can take this approach to your calendar going forward, maybe you’ll find room in there for that vacation you’ve been dreaming of after all.
About the Author: Lindsay Konlande currently serves as the Associate Director for Institute of Real Estate Management, Houston Chapter. Lindsay earned her Bachelor Degree in Communication from Texas A&M and has 8+ years of experience in marketing, public relations and copywriting.