Look at your smartphone.
That’s not just a device to use for social media and selfies. It’s a very useful, powerful device, that can help you remember your cousin’s birthday, or that monthly report that has to be sent out exactly at 9am on the third Wednesday of every month.
If you haven’t guessed it already, I’m talking about your Calendar app.
The Power of Scheduling
If you properly use your calendar, it is a beautiful thing. I’m particularly fond of apple’s Calendar App, because I can merge my professional calendar (Outlook), my personal calendar (Gmail), and my serving calendar (Yahoo) together. Because of this, I can see all of the upcoming events with little effort.
If you use your calendar for everything already, then you’re probably reading this and shouting “HALLELUJAH!” Calm down, friend. You’re scaring the neighbors.
Let’s get into the ways you can use your calendar on a regular basis to reap the most benefits:
You can put your friend’s or family member’s birthdays in your calendar and set it to repeat every year- you can even schedule a notification for days or weeks in advance so you’ll have time to buy them a gift or thoughtful card. Putting a special event in your calendar only takes a few seconds, and as long as you set it to repeat annually, you’ll reap exponential benefits. Once you take advantage of this awesome feature, everyone’s going to think you’re some kind of event-remembering wizard.
I have been out of college for 3 years now, and I still have all of my college roommates birthdays on my calendar. I’ll probably still have them in there when I’m 50. I also have the wedding anniversaries for all of my friends in my calendar, too. I love that this gives me the ability to take some time to send a quick text or email and let them know I’m thinking of them.
Scheduling Fun things
How often do you make plans with a friend, only to realize you’d already made plans for the same day and time with someone else? Then you have to go through the awkward process of canceling plans with one of them, which wastes time and energy, and it just a pain to do.
Avoid this annoying problem by scheduling everything in your phone calendar from the beginning. When making plans with others, you’ll know immediately when you’re free and when you’re not, so you can plan with confidence!
An added bonus: In my experience, taking time to include schedule time with someone in your calendar makes them feel like a priority. You’re basically telling them, “this is time that I will spend focusing on you, and nobody/nothing else.” This will make them feel valued. I hope.
Sharing Calendars or Events
- Syncing calendars with family members can make scheduling your time together seamless while apart. Trying to plan when to go out with your friends, but you want to make sure your spouse is free to take care of the kids? As long as they’ve synced their calendar with yours, you can see instantly if they’re available.
- When you make plans with friends, you can create an event, and then send an event invitation to them via email. This will allow them to put the event in their calendar. It’s handy, and a good way to make sure neither of you forgets the plans you’ve made.
- Syncing calendars can make planning surprises difficult. You have to be careful what details you store for an upcoming surprise, or your spouse might figure it out in advance. In this situation, you might have to avoid putting the event in your calendar altogether.
- In my experience, It is difficult to un-sync calendars, so it’s best to avoid this unless you’re certain you want to see their events for the rest of your life.
I’ve got a few monthly items that have to occur at weird times. Take, for example, a report that has to go out on either the 17th of the month, or on the wednesday the week before the last payday of the month, whichever comes last. There’s no way I’m going to remember that. Luckily, calendar events exist, so I don’t have to remember!
For reports like this, I sit down at the beginning of the year and map out an entire year of reports at a time. I go through my annual calendar month by month to figure out when I’ll have to send out my report. My calendar event reminds me the morning of the day I need to complete the report, and I put it on my To Do list as soon as I get the notification so that I don’t forget to do it when I have time.
Most reports don’t have such a weird schedule as the one I just mentioned. Some reports just have to go out the third wednesday of the month, or on the 10th day of every month, or something to that effect. In these situations, your calendar should have a feature that allows you to schedule events at these intervals by just creating a repeating event, rather than adding an event to every single month. Creating one repeating event is an efficient way to ensure foolproof reliability in the future without using up too much time or energy.
I also schedule any important weekly or monthly tasks in my calendar so that I don’t forget to complete them.
Scheduling all of your meetings will allow you to confidently tell your coworkers when you’re free and when you’re not. At my company, my co-workers can also see when my calendar is blocked out, so they can schedule meetings with me at times that fit my schedule. Ensuring that all of your responsibilities are stored in your calendar makes it easy to wrap your mind around what to expect each day when you get to work.
Another great thing about these reminders is they are super easy to snooze, change, or reset. So if you were supposed to meet your boss at 2:30, and at 2:15 he tells you he’s got to make a call and will be tied up the rest of the day, in a matter of seconds, you can reschedule your meeting for tomorrow.
Some people say that using your phone for everything is lazy. I would argue that using the technology that is at your fingertips is not lazy, at least not when it’s being used for the purpose of productivity and efficiency. Instead, I think it’s an excellent way to differentiate yourself from those out there who don’t make an effort to use their time wisely.
How do you use your phone and calendar reminders? Do you have any other tricks that you use your phone for to help increase your productivity at work? Feel free to comment below, I’d love to hear from you!