The #1 Secret to Amazing Time and Calendar Management
Everyone makes plans. We do, you do. Plans incorporate multiple aspects of a wanted future situation: what will happen, how, where, and when.
Today we are concerned with the ‘when’ of our plans, i.e. with time and calendar management.
A well-planned event is placed in time, and that includes the exact date and often hour of its execution.
WHAT IS TIME AND CALENDAR MANAGEMENT?
This term is somewhat vague. We can manage neither time nor calendar. Hours go by, so do days, weeks, months, years.
No one person can change or organize that in any way.
But what you can manage is how you spend your time.
And it is here that we come across the intended meaning behind this phrase.
Time management is a broad term with the meaning of planning when an event will take place.
Calendar management is a more narrow term, and it refers to placing a certain event in a particular month, week, and day.
They are to some extent, interchangeable, and we will mostly use the phrase ‘time management’ to refer to both in this article.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF TIME AND CALENDAR MANAGEMENT?
Time and calendar management are very beneficial, and here is why.
1. Enough Time for Everything
Managing your time makes you think about the exact amount of time you need for an activity.
When you know that you have 30 minutes to clean your room and that after that you have to help your family move out the old furniture, you will realize that you have enough time for both activities and that you are left with the whole afternoon off.
2. Clear Picture
Writing a to-do list lets you organize your thoughts and this, in turn, gives you a clear picture of is achievable and in how much time.
After you have finished your planning, you will find that you have (or do not have) space for going out to get a can of beer with your best friend even though you have a dozen errands to run for the family.
3. Efficient and Productive Work
Another benefit is the efficiency with which you will fulfill your duties.
With a clear picture in your mind, you will be able to focus on one thing at a time and be fast in finishing each task.
The logical continuation would be your becoming more productive.
When you work with great results, you will become more motivated and less stressed.
Productivity and efficiency yield good results and a doing work of high quality. Everyone will be satisfied!
4. Realized Goals
Efficient and productive work naturally leads to more goals being achieved, to more effective work and to a more successful worker.
As you realize a bigger number of goals, you will discover your true potential.
And you will see that it only took good time management to get you there!
WHAT MISTAKES DO PEOPLE MAKE WHEN THEY MANAGE THEIR TIME?
Have you ever tried making a to-do list? Have you ever failed to follow it?
If you have experienced failure in this field, maybe you made one of these mistakes.
1. Not Prioritizing
Not all tasks are of equal importance.
Finding what is more and what is less important allows you to be aware of how much energy you need for a certain task.
Spending too much energy on something insignificant will reduce the effort put into a more important duty.
2. Letting Distractions Get in the Way
We rarely think about distractions when we plan a to-do list.
But this is a very realistic and possible situation.
How do you deal with a distraction when you encounter one? Do you leave everything else behind and resolve the distraction first?
If you do, maybe you should evaluate the emergency of the newfound issue and only then decide when to approach it.
3. Too Much on the List
It is not a good practice to put too much on your own plate.
Are you sure you can do all of that? Instead, why not weeding out the stuff of low importance for today?
It is better to do a small number of things and be left with free time than to do a large number of things and be left with more to do and no energy for it.
It may seem like a good idea to match two activities and plan to do them at the same time.
You would save time this way, right?
Well, we beg to disagree.
Multitasking, though seemingly saving time, can actually make you less productive.
If you focus on more than one thing, it is not likely that you will do your task as well as when you pay attention only to it.
5. Choosing Wrong Time for an Activity
There is an appropriate timing when certain tasks are most likely to be finished successfully.
For example, if you choose to read your emails as your last activity of a day, it may affect your sleep due to much information which will stick in your mind.
You should avoid such mistakes and plan your activities based on the timing as well.
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME WELL?
There are many tips on successful time and calendar management.
Some are better, and others are worse. Some are more, and others are less useful.
We will take a look at some tips which are in the running for the title of the #1 secret to amazing time and calendar management.
1. Choose Your Goals
Nominee number 1 is a wisdom of bearing in mind the ultimate goal you want to achieve.
Based on it, you then choose the appropriate duties and tasks which will be the steps towards achieving the said goal.
This may include both short-term and long-term planning.
An example of a short-term goal would be cleaning the house. This goal, in particular, can be broken down to many subtasks.
These would include doing the dishes, doing the laundry, sweeping or vacuuming the floor, dusting, etc.
A long-term goal can be buying a car.
Bearing that in mind, you may plan to go to a big supermarket once or twice a month and use discounts on big purchases.
You may add finding a part-time job to the list. Then, finding a job is a task which should be decomposed into searching newspapers and the internet, writing a CV, applying, etc.
All in all, the ultimate goal gives you the perspective into the future and your tasks a significance.
This advice is very important, as you don’t want to spend too much energy on tasks which are not very important and leave the important things behind.
The urgent and important scale is very useful in this case. The Eisenhower method is very useful in distinguishing priorities.
If you take a look at the table above, you can see that according to this method, problems under 1 should be done personally as soon as possible. Problems under 2 should be scheduled to a later time. Number 3 are those which should be delegated to someone else, and number 4 should not be done at all.
Actually, there are many methods you can use for this.
Yes, you can skip this step, but in that case, you will surely see at one point that you are wasting time on something that may have waited or that may have been done by someone else.
So, plan carefully and set your priorities.
It is quite a useful advice, right? But is it that advice #1 that we are searching?
3. Make Room for Unpredicted Situations
Very rarely do we accomplish our plans without something unpredicted comes up. It may be a small obstacle or a big issue.
They need to be inserted into the plan list. But can we predict them?
Unfortunately, not always.
What you should do in order not to let these get in the way of the successful finish of your tasks is to leave some space in your plan for the unpredictable.
You will find something to fill your time once everything is done.
Basically, what you can do is leave 10 or 15 minutes between the planned activities.
This has several advantages. If something comes up out of the blue, you will have time to spare, should you choose to deal with it right away.
On the other hand, if nothing occurs, you have free time.
Whether you will use it to take a short break or to move on with the next task, it is up to you. Whatever the case, you will surely be happy to have done this.
This is a useful piece of advice, don’t you think? Is this the one?
4. Do Not Let Distractions Get in the Way
This tip is connected with the previous one.
On the one hand, there are unpredicted situations which can occur.
On the other hand, we live in a world full of distractions.
Take your phone into consideration, and be frank – when you hear it ring, do you pick it up immediately (or at least have the instinct to do it)?
Most people do, even though this is often not necessary.
Distractions are quite hazardous for efficiency. Not only do they steal your attention, but they often keep it.
Would you not agree that it is much easier to focus on the distraction than on the actual thing you are working on? Can you guess how many distractions there were while this text was being written?
Well, we would prefer you not to guess.
Would you vote for this to be the tip number 1?
5. Make Plans on Time
The next candidate for the #1 secret to amazing time and calendar management is calendar-related: plan in advance!
It is a matter of great importance to make timely plans which will give you enough time to make changes if they are necessary.
You will see the big picture, and it will be easier for you to make the necessary decisions, such as the deadline to be met, the resources to be used, and maybe even some additional help if you need it.
According to Brian Tracy, “It takes only about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you up to two hours (100 to 120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort through the day.”
One more advantage of planning at least a day ahead is that your mind with work on that list during the night and you may think of some very interesting ideas when you get up.
Isn’t that fascinating?
May this be the one tip without which all the others are just not enough?
6. Focus on One Thing at a Time
Though you may have many things of your list for today, it is advisable never to take on more than one thing at a time.
The reason is quite simple – multitasking divides your attention on multiple things, in multiple directions; you probably need to think in different ways for each of them.
This leads to ineffective work and to tasks done half well or not well enough.
On the other hand, if you do only one thing from the beginning to the end, without diverting your attention to anything else, you make sure to do your best. It may seem to take you more time this way, but it is actually not.
Just imagine revising student’s tests and at the same time planning a school play with a colleague. Which of these two are you doing successfully?
It is quite possible that you will either mark a test wrong on miss out on a piece of important information regarding the play.
Would you agree that this advice is fairly in the running for the best one?
7. Give Yourself a Break
What do you do when you feel tired of work? Do you push yourself to do more or leave everything and go outside? Do you go to sleep or call a friend? Or do you change your office or seat and move on?
Do not forget that everyone needs a break. Taking time off helps us regenerate, physically and mentally. It doesn’t matter how much time you need or what you need to do if you feel you really need a pause, make it.
It is even smarter to plan several short breaks during a multi-hour work.
Although you may not feel tired at the moment of a planned break, you will still recover from the strain, be it a small one, and you will be able to continue work even better than before.
The appropriate thing to do is what you feel you need. Sometimes you will need to take a short walk, to drink some water or eat a candy bar.
Maybe you will need to do some exercise and get that negative energy out of your system.
Sometimes a talk with someone close will do the trick. Whatever it is, don’t deprive yourself of what you need.
Being relaxed, it certainly is an appealing tip? But is it the best?
8. Say No
Being there for others is noble, but there is a time when you need to say no.
If you have a lot on your plate and a colleague asks you ‘just to do this one small thing, it will not take you much time’, it would be best to reject it.
Or make it clear that you will do it only if you manage to finish your own tasks on time.
What do you think about this advice? Put your obligations first.
This may seem somewhat selfish on first sight, but let us look it from another angle.
IF you put aside your duties in order to do another person’s ones, you will subconsciously think about the things that are awaiting you.
You will not even be able to help your friend well.
You will do them a bad favor, and you will also do your tasks badly. No one wins in that situation, right?
But if you choose to finish your work, if there is time for more, you will help a colleague with a clear head, and everything will be done perfectly.
Good advice, don’t you think?
9. Choose a Theme for Your Day
If you plan several days ahead, put most (but not all) activities with a similar theme in one day.
This way, you will get the most out of it. Your mind will focus on this theme, and you will be productive and efficient.
Think about this, as it may be just the thing you need to become a perfect time manager.
For example, if you are planning a general cleaning of your house, you may divide the chores by topics – wash and arrange clothes one day, do the floors and dusting another day, clean the kitchen and the bathroom the next day.
Or you can divide the work by rooms and clean a room or two every day.
However, remember to add some diversity to your day as well. Your mind needs a break and variety as well.
Be open-minded, if a great idea comes to your mind, and it is planned for another day, write it down and who knows, maybe you will have time at the end of the day to try it.
So if you are cleaning the bathroom and you realize that there is a lot of dirty clothes you don’t have to wait for the clothes day to do it, but turn on the washing machine and finish that today.
Sorting colorful clothes is definitely a more interesting activity than washing the sink, and it may be just the right thing to help you regain your motivation and move on to cleaning the shower, as was planned.
10. Review Your List Regularly
If you make a long-term plan, it is a good idea to review it occasionally. Maybe some tasks will prove to be unnecessary after some time. You can remove them. Maybe some need to be revised and changed.
Maybe some will have to be replaced with something else.
Let’s take a look at the following situation – you are preparing for a holiday abroad.
You have made a list of the things you will pack, the things you need to buy, who will take care of your pet when you are away and who will water your plant.
At one moment, the plant dries out, and suddenly you no longer need anyone to water it. Review your list and cross out the unnecessary task.
Also, despite the warm clothes you packed, you find out it is going to be quite hot at your destination at the time when you arrive.
Review your to-do again and change the clothes you are going to wear during the trip.
May this piece prove useful?
Yes. Is it good enough to become the ultimate one? We are yet to see.
Having read our text, would you say that any of the aforementioned tips are efficient enough to be declared number one?
OR none of them?
So, in the end, how should we choose?
Well, there is one more thing which should be mentioned and which we have been failing to mention throughout the whole text – sticking to the plan.
We took this for granted, but maybe we should not have.
No matter how good or bad your schedule seems to be (and mind that there is no bad plan, just possible one which not very efficient), if you don’t follow it, you are in for failure.
If you don’t stick to your plan, we have written this text in vain, and you have been reading it in vain!
So, be your plan elaborate or brief, DO the things on the list and by doing them, all you have mastered the secret to amazing time and calendar management! Don’t procrastinate!