Arrange your time and your mind will follow
A gym workout, a reminder to walk the dog, meeting with your colleagues on that project presentation, a dentist appointment — are all on the same page. You can’t separate artificially between your work and personal calendars. Why? Because that’s how your life works. The goal is to see what your actual day looks like, to blend between work and personal life for finding the right balance that fits you. Or as Jeff Bezos answered to Thrive Global on steps he takes to improve his productivity and performance:
“I think work-life harmony is a good framework, I prefer the word ‘harmony’ to the word ‘balance’ because balance tends to imply a strict tradeoff.”
For that purpose, most of us use a digital calendar. But whether you get the most out of your day is the real question here. In the following lines, I’ll try to share some of my calendar’s preferences to plan the ideal week.
Remind your future self
Current calendar applications have many features, among them are notifications and reminders. I advise to use them wisely, most people set a new event and let the app choose the default notification behavior, and when pushed, they ignore it. Well, doing so, is missing the whole point of the notification — to remind you of the needed information on the relevant context, at the best time you need it.
For example, in case of setting a morning event, to call customer service for technical support. A productive way is adding the customer service’s number and a short sentence in the description to remind you what is the goal of the meeting. In such way, you’ll save time, call immediately (from the push notification) and align your mind on the purpose of the call without having to pull it off from your memory.
Be in control of your time
Define your working days and hours. Regularly check if your calendar’s setting fit your daily routine, if any change happened — be flexible and update your timeline. On each morning, I advise you to go over your daily agenda and see if any meeting should be moved or canceled. Make sure to reply to each session with your response (and its motivation).
Furthermore, schedule recurrent meetings for daily tasks such as commute time to work and back to home or lunchtime. Set it as out of the office or busy time. In such a way, others won’t schedule a meeting at that time.
The spouse calendar
I don’t recall who recommend it to me, but this useful tip changed my life, for real. So, thank you, anonymous helper🙏. It’s straightforward to set up, all commonly used calendars that support sharing your schedule with others. In return, you’ll get more control in less fuss.
Thus, each party is up to date with the other party’s schedule. Bring into your attention, that both sides should be proactive and update their schedule — otherwise it will miss the whole point.
Schedule the time you need
Block time-slots needed for you to invest in your personal growth. Use them to learn new material by reading, testing new technologies, or whatever you find enriching.
Dan Ariely once said:
“It turns out that most people are productive in the first two hours of the morning. Not immediately after waking, but if you get up at 7, you’ll be most productive from around from 8–10:30.”
So make sure to schedule these blocks when you’re most productive.
Also, use them to plan a regular basis time-out, it’s healthy and makes you perform better. It may be fitness activity, a coffee with a colleague, “just” doing nothing or meditation — whatever assists you in clearing your mind.
Organize each event into a category. Such as Family, Work, Personal health, etc. Assign a color for each group. When needed, it will allow you to filter events of a specific type. Also, it may help you to understand from what your week is formed by looking on dominant colors.
Another helpful tip I found along the way is, enriching recurrent events with emojis. For example, “meatless Monday 🌿”, “Going to the gym 🏋️” or “Commute time 🚌”. Cause everything’s better with emojis 🤓.
These small changes in your daily routine will push forward and boost your productivity; any calendar application out there can be good enough. Invest the effort now and get more time to have free time.