Back in my corporate days I managed diaries for numerous executives. This was a great training ground as it meant juggling multiple calendars, all with their own idiosyncrasies, and minute detail. Given the importance of their roles and the complexities of their schedules, getting it wrong was not an option.
For the last decade as an entrepreneur this skill has been enormously helpful. If you looked at my digital calendar you'd probably think I was a freak, but it works like a charm. It's all colour-coded with each colour signifying a particular type of activity - e.g. off-site meetings are red, on-site meetings are orange, exercise is mauve, tasks that can be moved are yellow, and house/property maintenance is green. Travel time is included in my calendar prior to the off-site events, as is the return travel, and even time to get ready to go out.
Why do I have such an intricate calendar system?
Because it works.
With all of these details accounted for I know exactly how much time I have left. This helps me to have a realistic view of what I can get done in any given day or week. As I put a new task into my calendar I allocate the time I think it will take. Regular weekly, fortnightly, or monthly tasks like writing blog posts, creating and scheduling social media content, and writing my new books all goes in.
In short, this helps me to manage my time better. There is no wasted time, and there are no surprises either. Using my calendar in this way means:
Increased productivity. With a clear plan in my calendar, I know what I need to do and where I need to be. By allocating time to daily tasks my time is more productive, and I know what I can and cannot get done that day.
A communication tool. Sharing my calendar with my team, partner, or anyone else who is impacted by it, means they know my movements. This avoids scheduling conflicts and allows everyone to be across the detail.
Better decision making. At a glance I can see what availability I have when a meeting request comes across my desk. What I can also do is block out time for personal appointments and even the down time I choose to have in my week.
Reduced stress. This is something I definitely notice as being a huge benefit. I couldn't imagine operating without this detail in my calendar now. There is absolutely no stress when it comes to my schedule, it's there in black and white—well, all colours of the rainbow actually, but you know what I mean.
Improved work-life balance. Given that I use the same diary for my personal life and my work life, I'm able to keep things balance. Knowing that I work best early in the mornings, I use this time to get more done, then I schedule personal outings or chores later. This means I can get the benefit of my most productive hours and get the time out I need.
Using a calendar is a game-changer. With improved time management I'm far more productive, I'm less stressed, and my work-life balance is much improved. The great thing about a digital calendar is that it's with you all the time and it's easily changed as needed.
Making the effort to plan and organise my schedule has paid off big time.