Advertising
Advertising

How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

There has been plenty of discussion online and off about how a calendar fits into one’s productivity system. The general rule of thumb is that scheduled appointments should go in your calendar, while tasks and the like should go into whichever task management system you use.

What often gets lost in the discussion is what appointments should go into your calendar in order to best maximize your time and ensure you’re making progress on the things you really want to be doing. One of the best ways to do this is to get a bit more granular with the definition of appointments so that you can use your calendar more effectively as part of your overall productivity system.

Advertising

Types of Appointments

1. General Appointments

These are appointments in the most traditional sense. They may be doctor’s appointments or business lunches. Either way, they are fairly general in terms of what we define as appointments, so they should be treated as such. These types of appointments can be moved to different dates if given enough notice and both parties are able to make it happen, although you should try to keep them “as-is” in most cases.

Advertising

2. Self-Appointments

These are appointments you make with yourself. They can be time blocks that you schedule so that you can work on tasks or projects without interruption – by yourself or others through distraction. These types of appointments are also transferable, but I would recommend you try to build a framework so that they stay as static as possible. Pick some time where you can work in 90 minute intervals as a self-appointment regularly so that you can create a habit and improve productivity. Break these times up with breaks where nothing is set in stone. You can even take the larger blocks and break them down into smaller chunks using The Pomodoro Technique if you’d like so that you can move from task to task.

Advertising

Keep these amount of time sacred, but be nimble enough that you can move that amount of time to other hours of the day.

3. Team Appointments

Advertising

These are appointments where a team is needed to come together. The best way to schedule these is after the other two types of appointments are locked in your calendar. While it might be hard to schedule these after doing so, there are tools like Doodle, Tungle.me, and even Google Calendar that can help pick optimal times where most can be present. When it comes to these types of appointments, the needs of the many should outweigh the needs of the few, so self and general appointments may have to be adjusted in order to make them work. But only adjust those as a last resort – your time is important and your teammates need to realize that.

Conclusion

I’ve heard some productivity types say that scheduling time blocks works against you – that it goes against the grain and is nearly impossible to do. But John Cleese has brought forth the argument that people need two things in order to create: time and space. I couldn’t agree more with that assessment.

If you keep in mind the types of appointments you have at your disposal, your calendar becomes a tremendous tool that allows you to create this time and space for yourself.

(Photo credit: Close Up of a Calendar Page via Shutterstock)

More by this author

Mike Vardy

A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero 35 Quick and Simple Tips for Better Productivity 4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive

Trending in Productivity

1 The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness 2 How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want 3 How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement 4 5 Less-Known Reasons Why Less is More 5 10 Smart Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

Advertising

Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

Advertising

Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

Advertising

3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

Advertising

7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

Read Next