There was a time, around 6 BC. (before imprisonment), where I must have serious issues with my organization, both personal and professional. I often missed tasks and even forgot an appointment, or I remembered it at the last moment. One day the situation got out of hand. That day, I felt it was time to take the organization of my tasks and my appointments seriously before seeing myself at INEM with a dismissal procedure under my arm.

The solution was twofold: on the one hand, centralize absolutely all my tasks in – a minute of silence – Wunderlist, then replaced by Todoist. On the other hand, use the calendar roughly. And over time, I gradually improved both measures. I went from writing all the tasks in one inbox, without further ado, to ordering them according to projects and contexts, adding deadlines, attaching URLs or files if necessary… And with the schedule, I was tweaking a stone and disciplined system, like a German in a boarding school.

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For people who have used their calendars naturally for decades – perhaps like you, the reader – this may seem like a maximum truism. But week after week I also meet people who entrust everything to their memory, or limit themselves to notations on paper, or who use the calendar of their mobile or computer, but in a superficial way. For them, this article goes: you can go much further.

Calendar 101

In the examples I’m going to give, I’ve used the native macOS calendar, but pretty much all calendars have the same options, so even if you’re using Outlook or Google Calendar, you can apply them the same way.

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1. Use multiple calendars

This has a double utility: on the one hand, by associating different colors with each one, you will be able to better understand at a glance what type of events and dates you have during the day or the week. In my case, I use red for personal use, blue for work, yellow for family, and green for sporting events I want to see.

Capture from my own calendar. You can see the appointments and events of a whole week, the use of different calendars, the travel times of the events that need it, birthdays and holidays in Spain …

In addition, I shared the family calendar (yellow color) with my partner. What one adds, changes, or removes is reflected on the other’s devices. This is where I add all the quotes and events shared by the two, but also the ones in which, even if they are only for one of the two, the other needs to be informed. This especially applies to events that are not exactly part of everyday life, but are a little more exceptional. In these cases, we put the name of the busy person at the beginning of the event name to know that this appointment only affects that person.

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2. Practice time blocking

This quaint name in English comes to mean something simple: do you remember college or university hours, when each day was structured into subjects or recess, instead of one big, seamless daily event? Do the same, but with your current tasks.

Itemize each of these tasks and make them as small as possible, without going to ridiculous lengths. In this screenshot, I have filled two imaginary days: Monday, without time block. Tuesday with him. Two different ways to organize a day. I am clear who I am staying with.

Calendar 02 On the one hand, a day without time blocking or the use of different calendars. On the other side, a structured and detailed day.

3. Use as many fields as necessary

An event or calendar appointment basically consists of a title and a time slot. Now alright in many events it will be a good idea to go much further to take advantage of its possibilities. The less we have to trust our memory and the less we have to leave the calendar to find all the relevant information for that event, the better.

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An example with the dinner event. In addition to indicating that the event is a “dinner” in the title, and the scheduled time slot, we can also add:

  • An invitation for the person with whom we will be sharing the event.
  • The address where the event will take place (normally by entering the name of the city, monument, company, etc., the application will be able to tell us the full address). This is particularly useful because then with a button you can see the route and the navigation there by going by car, on foot, by metro …
  • Travel time. We can set a specific value or tell the app where we’re at and estimate that time for us. This way, it will also warn us to leave on time, and to “block” the previous hour so that we understand that this time will be traveling, not free. For many events, where everything takes place in the same environment or a few minutes walk from our house, it will not be necessary to use this field. – Other notice. Useful for events that we want to keep in mind with a special advance, like the morning before, the day before, five minutes before, etc.
  • Notes, URLs or files. In this example I add the address to the menu of the restaurant, which no longer offers it physically, but via its website.
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Calendar 03 Calendar event with multiple fields filled in beyond the basic ones. The basic premise is that the calendar works for you, saving you time and confusion for the future, not that you work for the calendar.

4. Complete it with good management of your contacts

If your contacts are in the format “last name, first name, phone number” without more information, you will not be able to take full advantage of the calendar because it and his contacts work more closely than they appear. Yes instead have things like your birthday and your home or business address, both apps will notify you and they will be much more useful.

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Calendar 04 A sufficiently complete contact sheet will also be useful when using the calendar.

For example, with the date of birth entered in the card of each contact, the calendar will notify you each year of his birthday, also indicating his age.

And also, if you introduce a new event that takes place at a contact’s address or at their work, just write his name for the application to suggest one of these addresses, instead of having to remember them or look for them elsewhere.

5. Leave empty spaces and be aware of transitions

It sounds insignificant, but I’ve learned it over the past few months: on the one hand, it’s a very good idea to leave empty spaces with nothing to do. The organization of the grid is fantastic and necessary for people with a chaotic nature, but leaving room for improvisation is too.

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Blank spaces are used both to have moments of improvisation or rest and to be able to manage unforeseen events.

Some whites (as much as possible, as little as necessary) complement this almost total time reserve well. Either to face an unforeseen event with a reserve of time, or to improvise, rest and do anything but productive tasks.

On another side, The gaps between appointments and events are also significant, beyond travel times. Completing a three-hour task at 1 p.m. and not allowing five or ten minutes to start the next one can sometimes be necessary, but planning it that way can backfire. The rest these five or ten minutes should be considered as an investment: thanks to them, we can continue to perform in the next task. Without them, maybe our level of focus and creativity, in addition to the desire to keep working, can drop so low that we can no longer take on this task.

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6. Distinguish between appointments and tasks

It is a basic concept for understanding what should be in the schedule, even in a system based on the time block And why not. Appointments and events are all that we have to do in a specific period of time, either because of an external need (like a scheduled appointment with the dentist) or because even if it depends only on from us, we decided to block this temporary space in order to be able to do this particular task (like finishing a work report).

Chores: they do not take place in a specific time window, we will do them when we can or want. Citations: It’s not just up to us to do them, we can’t do them outside of this moment.

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Some more examples to finish understanding it:



Unsubscribe from the gym

Meeting with Roberto

Buy your train tickets to Zaragoza

Dinner with Sara and Sergio

Renew driving license

Ana’s birthday party

Buy socks

Appointment with the vet

Prepare documentation for the lawyer

Checking the car

Don’t let this colorful grid overwhelm you, it takes less time than you might think, especially once you get used to the dynamics, and it ends up saving you time and avoiding oblivion. If you have any ideas on how to improve this system or use the timeline in whatever way you think is best, I’ll be very interested (and I’m sure the rest of the readers will be too) to tell us in the comments.

Source : Engadget