Calendar Management Tips, Tools & Best Practices to Save Time + Reduce Stress
Well done! You’ve been managing everyone’s affairs from scheduling meetings, finding free time slots for unexpected events, and managing core priorities while keeping your phone close by for the 100th phone call you will likely receive today. But let’s not kid ourselves, it can be a stressful affair, especially when you are managing multiple calendars.
We are here to save the day, or at least make the day a little more bearable, while we look at how to get the most out of your calendar, how to manage someone else’s calendar, some great calendar management tools, and other best practices!
Getting the most out of your calendar
Let’s kick things off with some quick wins that you can implement right now to make life easier.
Add calendar tasks for almost everything
Without getting into the Tim Ferris idea on time management, you should add calendar tasks for almost everything and you should definitely block time for some key tasks like focus time and free time. Making things like your focus time and your free time can help your brain make clear distinctions between work and rest.
I like to put in my key priorities or ‘non-negotiables’ as I call them. Those are things that take care of me, like exercise, and quality time with my family.
This point is incredibly important, how important? We’ve implemented it into Symphona! Color coding group tasks make it easier to recognize what’s happening at a glance. Once you’re color-coded and ready to put in other important tasks, I recommend time blocking in your master calendar.
Block out those tasks
Time blocking reduces the ‘Zeigarnik effect, which in a nutshell is the effect that you feel when you can remember more half-done to-do list tasks than the completed ones. In essence, time blocking is making a time slot in your calendar to do similar tasks. This reduces the time it takes for your brain to get in the right mental context.
These blocks of time can be for things like:
deep work (like report writing, bookkeeping, or rostering)
One of the biggest benefits people see when they start time blocking is they have the ability to have a regular meeting free day AND still schedule meetings at a time that works for everyone’s calendar.
This can be a whole topic in itself and will have a separate post in the future but for now, let’s just say that all meeting requests should always include meeting agendas. Meeting agendas set the core priorities of the meeting and ensure that the meeting is as important as the time set aside for it.
Most meetings are seldom urgent or important.
Calendar management tools
When someone refers to a calendar management tool, they are referring to a service that allows a user to set up a web portal that acts as the meeting scheduler. Generally, this looks like a calendar view of the calendar you’re trying to book into, and you fill out a short form to book a meeting in that calendar, this, as you can imagine, saves a lot of time and effort.
Calendly is your hub for scheduling meetings professionally and efficiently, eliminating the hassle of back-and-forth emails so you can get back to work. Calendy has a free trial that lasts 14 days so it’s worth taking a look.
Acuity offers the same service as Calendly but it expands its capabilities into business administration like client management, customizable intake forms, invoicing, etc. It’s geared towards smaller businesses and freelancers and comes with a 7-day free trial.
HubSpot is another great tool that expands beyond just scheduling meetings. It’s marketing automation software for small to medium-sized businesses and built for this purpose but can still be used to make life easier managing calendars. It comes with a 14-day free trial.
Create Your Coding System
Use labels, folders, filters, and color-coding to make management of your calendars as easy to read and actionable as possible. That way you spend less time trying to figure out what you are looking at and more time actioning. Yes it will take some initial investment but the pay off long term is worth it
Calendar Roles and Permissions
If Everybody is Responsible, Nobody is Responsible. If too many have access to the whole calendar, things are going to get missed. Make life easier by creating and documenting exactly who can accept meetings and add events.
Allocate Time Just for Calendar Management
In order to save time, you have to make time, time to manage your calendars
Automating Calendar Tasks
The more automation you can implement the better
Zapier works on the principal or WHEN this happens, THEN do that. For example, WHEN an event needs to be moved, THEN send a message to the people invited. WHEN someone in your organization adds a new event, THEN you receive a notification. WHEN you are hungry THEN order food, you get the idea.
This is another tool we use frequently here in the office. They have a free tier and then go up in price depending on how many automation tasks you wish to implement
Setting up automatic email is another way to free up brain space for more important tasks so you don’t have to spend time following up on unanswered emails. ReBump’s automation services are another wonderful tool added to your growing time management arsenal.
Print Out and Learn All the Keyboard Shortcuts
How much time do you spend moving the mouse from one side of the screen to another, or searching through endless menus? It may only save a second, but over the course of the day, those seconds add up. Printing them out and putting them near your workspace can help get those shortcuts ingrained into your head.
Whether you manage a large or small organization, there’s always room for better calendar management. Follow Symphoas blog for more helpful tips!