Whether you’re studying for school exams or bouncing between office meetings, finding time to get everything done—day in and day out—can prove quite the challenge. And it gets even harder if you haven’t figured out an effective way to track and update your schedule.
You might think you’re seasoned enough to be able to keep your calendar in your head, but your brain can only hold so much information. Maybe you prefer a traditional paper calendar, or you’re a lifelong devotee of the sticky note method, but those little pieces of paper can’t send you notifications. And while the paper calendar in your kitchen is helpful to keep track of holidays, birthdays, and the weekly trash pickup, you can’t take it with you when you’re on the go.
Utilizing a digital calendar is the most productive way to manage your schedule in the modern era. A single digital calendar app can be updated and kept synced across multiple devices, meaning you only have to make updates and changes once. Notifications and reminders ensure you won’t miss appointments, deadlines, or that upcoming wedding anniversary. Plus, connecting your calendar to the app where you store your notes, files, to-dos, and other important info means nothing will fall through the cracks ever again.
In fact, once you start to think of your calendar as the “home base” for your whole life, it becomes the most important organizational tool in your time management kit.
How to maximize your “home base”
Tools make our lives easier, but only if we use them properly, and calendars are no exception. Even you’ve already embraced the digital age and maintain a digital calendar, how often are you checking it? 66% of survey respondents said they always keep their calendars open, 21% check their calendars several times per day, and the rest only check to add or update an event.
Like any good habit, maintaining, updating, and referencing your calendar should become a part your daily routine. Here are some helpful tips to maximize your digital calendar or “home base.”
Use it to allocate time
Is your calendar a disorganized mess of tasks and meetings? You can schedule as much as you want on any given day, but what good is it if some to-dos are left unchecked? Try one of these time-allocation strategies to improve your calendaring skills:
- Time Blocking is the most basic method. Break your day into multiple time blocks and allocate different activities to them. Keep things organized through color-coding, bold lines, or whatever visual method works for you. Even blocking off events into fun shapes can stimulate the brain.
- The Pomodoro Technique helps those who struggle to concentrate for extended periods. First, choose your most time-consuming task or a task that needs to get done urgently. Then, set 25-minute timers and take a short break after each one. After four 25-minute segments, get up and take an extended break.
Know what to “eat” first
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”— Mark Twain
The frog is a metaphor for your most daunting task. Perhaps it’s your most significant task of the day or a job that requires more time and energy. By prioritizing that task, you leave the rest of your day open for less demanding activities. You don’t want large projects looming over your head as the workday draws to a close.
You might have a week full of frogs. No problem. Eat the biggest ones on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then coast into the weekend. A digital calendar app can identify the largest frogs and help you plan your week accordingly.
Commonly used in business and sales, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of your outcomes stem from 20% of your input. In sales, the 80/20 rule means 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. In terms of time, use the first 20% of your day to accomplish 80% of your workload.
Power tip: Evernote can send you notifications for calendar events of your choosing. This feature helps you prioritize your frogs… ahem, tasks, ensuring you never miss (or run out of time for) an important task or event.
Always leave room for the unexpected
Remember, white space on your calendar is a good thing. You’ll inevitably get a call from an important client asking to move your Tuesday meeting to Friday afternoon. “Sorry, I’m booked until next month” isn’t the ideal response. Reserving a block of time for the unplanned keeps your schedule from spinning into chaos.
Sync and integrate your entries
Surprisingly, 14% of digital calendar users juggle multiple apps at once. Integrating your calendars in one place makes sharing them between team members more manageable. You can redirect teammates to notes, websites, or chatrooms to keep everything about your workday organized in one place.
With your “home base” in the palm of your hand, you’ll never have to carry around bulky planners and paper calendars ever again. Digital calendar apps allow access from any device at any time while the ability to keep things separate, such as your to-do list, prevents clutter in your digital calendar.
Power tip: Evernote Professional and Teams customers can connect up to five Google Calendar accounts, making it easy to keep track of every aspect of your busy life—work, family, hobbies, and more. Plus, any paid Evernote plan let you access your content on unlimited devices. Left your laptop at work? As long as you can log into your account, you can check your entries anytime and on any device.
Filter and categorize your activities
Digital calendar apps come with filters, allowing you to bounce between your work calendar, personal calendar, and to-do list with simple clicks. Here is where time-blocking comes back into play. Prevent overlap by color-coding tasks to differentiate between urgent work needs and personal to-dos.
Power tip: Use Tasks in Evernote to stay on top of it all by creating to-dos in your notes and managing them accordingly. Sort your tasks by note, due date, or flagged status, and use filters to see only what you need. Start each day with a clear plan of action, confident that nothing important will fall through the cracks.
Regain clarity, take control
Your calendar is your home base for your whole life. Whether it’s always open or you’re only checking it periodically, your calendar keeps you on track and on schedule. Use your digital calendar app to allocate time throughout the day with color-coded time blocks and tasks. Make sure to “eat that frog” in the morning and tackle less demanding activities in the afternoon. Remember, white space is good space, so reserve blocks of time for the unexpected.
Time management and organizational skills are two of the most sought-after skills in the professional world. Boost yours by transitioning to a digital calendar today.