As you may notice already, I am very into deadlines (read this or this). The truth is that I came to notice, accept and embrace the fact that I am a time management freak (not sure if that’s a category or not). Ask my wife, really.
So, I have tried many tools in order to keep control of my activities, manage my deadlines better, and be clear about my priorities. After many trials, apps, and devices, I have ended loving what may be the most neglected and underrated tool in the entire universe of time management gadgets: the calendar.
Yes! I am a fan of using the calendar in my mobile. Actually, in every device. I love to sync it with my laptop, and to share it with my coworkers, friends, and family.
And you may ask:
Why the calendar, and what’s special about it?
Well, one answer at a time.
Why the calendar?
Easy one. First of all, accessibility. The calendar is not even an app or a tool you need to download or buy (I mean, you can, but): there is always a calendar in every mobile, computer, laptop, and so. Everybody has one. And the answer is what makes it special.
What’s special about it?
Its simplicity. It is super easy to handle. Meaning anyone can operate it. Actually, maybe it’s underrated and neglected precisely because it is free, easy riding, and public. That is why, even when it is not hard to operate, surprisingly not many people know exactly how to get the best out of it.
Well, let me tell you how I have made of the calendar my time management crystalball.
What’s the calendar for me?
It is my way to turn my to do lists into reality. I have realized that a to-do-list is fine to declutter your bulk of activities. Valid! However, when we leave those lists on paper or on a note in our mobile, many of them end up as wish-lists waiting for the right moment to be done.
It is easy to forget those lists under the rest of our important, and urgent files, tasks, and the other to-do-list we’ll sure craft, one after the other.
It is easy to lose sight of them, because they are rarely harmonized with our daily schedule (let alone our weekly or monthly objectives and activities).
So, most of the times we have a to do-list-here, a schedule there, a pending-errands-note over there. Or in other words, a time management chaos.
That is why I came to turn my calendar in the mission control or dashboard of my activities. It is pretty much the crystal-ball of my time ahead.
Nowadays, I don´t keep any to-do-list out of my calendar. If something is not in there, then it is just a wish or simply, a non-important issue.
Having said that, these are my tips to make of the calendar the best time management tool you´ll ever have.
How to turn your calendar into the most powerful time management tool!
I don’t like to take anything at face value so, I will go step by step, just as I did it.
1. Get a a calendar (obvious? not that much!)
Every mobile and laptop have one, but you’d ve surprised of the amount of people that have never open it. If for some reason you don’t have one installed or the one you have simply does not like you, then get one. There are many, for free, and available to download.
You can get a calendar template from the internet. Just go to google and write search “Calendar 2017”, you will find excel and word templates. Find the one you like.
2. Put everything there. Meaning EVERYTHING.
Well, every-important-thing. At this point, you should have evaluated your priorities (read this) to be able to visualize what’s important, what’s urgent, and what is not important nor urgent.
This is my calendar, as you may notice, I have put everything there.
ONCE you’ve done that put as many commitments or desired commitments as you can. This is the most critical step since it will trigger the conversations with the stakeholders, so don´t miss it!
3. Make it public
We’ve talked about it before. A good way to get things done, is by putting a non-negotiable deadline and making it public. This is a sort of statement, it engages you, and makes you accountable. It is a real commitment.
Invite your wife or husband or any other critical stakeholder in your life: parents, siblings, friends. Share your calendar with them; give them full access to edit and ask them to input as many info as possible too.
Those speaking Spanish may notice how I include in my Calendar both, office and home activities.
Tip: Many mobiles give you the option to share it with other mobiles from the same brand, just like the iPhone. But, let’s say you rather the Google template instead. What you should do to share your calendar is – in first place – creating a Google Drive account (is free). Then, you must upload the calendar to your drive account.
Note: by doing these two steps, I assure you that you will have the clarity of a crystal-ball. If you, like me, have the problem of having to reschedule (once and again) because of overlapping of events, this will help you a lot.
It may sound dull, but trust me it is a great way to avoid such overlapping, the stress related to over scheduling, and that time-chaos. You’ll have control of your time.
But this does not stop here.
4. Make it happen (the calendar is not a wish list, it is a pack of deadlines)
Input the actions needed to make each one of your tasks happen in your calendar. For example, I would put for tomorrow “call X to invite them for dinner next month”. I know it might sound silly, but I used to spend a hole year wanting to invite different friends for dinner and actually never doing anything to make it happen. This example is simply to tell you
It is not enough to register activities in your calendar, you have to make them happen.
When looking back, the calendar should look like a log or a journal of the many things you did. All your deadlines done, all your tasks delivered, everything you achieved must be there.
5. Update constantly.
I mean it! Do it once every two weeks at least. I do it constantly. In many calendars you can just simply drag the events to a new time and day. It is super easy. Besides, by updating the calendar you’ll notice two things:
1) Where do you need to make time or be more efficient.
2) The things that you may not really want to do. It has happen to me very often. There have been many things I have rescheduled so many times that I realized I don’t really aim to achieve, do, or get. So, you´ll declutter once again.
6. Be a little flexible.
Let’s face reality. As I said before, a project manager is also a delays manager. I does not matter if you use the calendar for your work, your leisure time, or both. You are a project manager of your own activities and time. So, you will have to manage delays often. However, the calendar will help you to do it better.
Things might won´t go perfectly, but they will tend to happen more easily.
Bonus: It works at a professional level, at a family level, and actually at every level.
Soon, I will share you a video showing you how to easily operate the calendar. It is an amazing tool, believe. I assure you that you’ll become a fan, just like I did.
Try it and let me know any idea. Share this article or send it to someone who will find it helpful or interesting. There is always someone.
Diego is an experienced learning advisor, a certified trainer and a design thinking consultant.
He is available for advisory where the focus is on driving transcendental learning and lasting change. Moreover, he is always eager to chat.