Some people say that I’m a planner. Others say I’m calendar-oriented. Really, I just like to make sure that my time, tasks, and priorities are all reflected in my schedule. When someone asks me to do something and I agree (also power in saying no), I immediately add it to my Google Calendar, which can be accessed on my phone, iPad, and laptop. No matter where I am I have access to it.
If it is a work or professional meeting, I copy the Zoom or webinar link from the email and paste it directly into the calendar event that I create so that I do not have to search for the email when it’s time to log in.
Clarify your goals
It is important to know what you want to accomplish with your time. You cannot create an effective schedule if you don’t know what you are aiming for. I wrote a post on mini-goals here. Get specific on the main areas of your life and figure out the chunks of time that need to be spent on each.
Prioritize your tasks
When you sit down to work, or even at the beginning of every day, take a look at everything that needs to be accomplished. What is that one thing that can’t be put off? Do that first, in the morning if you can. For longer term projects, break it down into smaller deadlines and place those on your calendar. If you’re not sure how to prioritize, consider using a strategy like the Eisenhower Matrix.
Utilize a digital calendar like Google Calendar
Keep a calendar that can be accessed from all of your digital devices: laptop, phone, iPad, etc. That way, you always have access to what you need in the moment if someone asks to schedule something. Personally, because I work several part time jobs and manage my own schedule, I keep one Google Calendar for everything and color code by activity, including my personal commitments. For example, if a friend texts me and says, “hey, we should catch up on the phone Thursday around 8pm.” If I’m free, I actually confirm and add that to my calendar so I don’t forget to call or accidentally make plans to do something else because I forgot we were going to chat.
At work, I utilize my email kind of like a to-do list. I try to check my email at certain points throughout the day, but if something comes on that I need to take care of that day or later in the week, I also add it to my calendar and include the reference email.
Learn to Say “Let Me Get Back to You”
If you’re a kind-hearted person who wants to follow through with helping people or do a good job, you’ll be tempted to say yes to everyone and everything. That is not a realistic way to manage a schedule because you will quickly become overwhelmed. However, instead of saying no right away, give yourself some think time when someone asks you to do something or for another meeting or a favor. Evaluate if it fits with your goals and priorities or fits in any extra time you have available for leisure. If not, perhaps you may have to decline or ask the person to check in with you at a later date.