In my opinion, calendars are more important than most people give them credit for. If you want a bird’s eye view of what your day, week, or year will look like, then nothing beats a well-organized calendar.
What does a well-organized calendar look like? I’m glad you asked! In the tips that follow, I will reveal some of my favorite Getting Things Done (GTD) strategies that are designed to help you get the most out of scheduling your time with Google Calendar.
How to Use Google Calendar for GTD
People use calendars in different ways, but essentially, there are three types of events that should end up on your calendar:
- Events that happen at a specific time. E.g., meetings or tasks
- Events that occur that day. E.g., an all-day conference
- Events that are reminders. E.g., birthdays or anniversaries
If you stick to these three categories, your calendar can be a powerful tool for productivity and will help ensure that you make the most of your time.
The Benefits of Block Scheduling
When you know what your calendar should look like, you can turn your attention to how you want to fill it up.
One method that is growing in popularity is the idea of block scheduling. Teachers use this idea because it’s essentially the structure of a school day. Classes are assigned to specific time blocks to construct a full day of teaching and learning.
When you use block (or hyper) scheduling, you assign a task to every hour of your working day. This ensures that you don’t waste time wondering what to do next. You can schedule a week at a time if you want or simply work day by day. But, to be most efficient, you need to plan ahead.
How to Schedule Calendar Events
Calendars work in tandem with task managers.
For instance, if you used Google Tasks to add a task called, “finish sales reports”, you need to find a time on your calendar to make that happen. So, let’s look at how to find the best time to get things done.
In an ideal world, you could schedule any task for any time of the day. However, as Daniel Pink will attest, it’s often not that simple. We are humans, not robots, so some tasks are better suited to certain times of the day.
To help you work out what those times are, consider the TEA Framework.
Think about the task first. How much time will it take to complete? How much energy does this task require? And how much of your attention will this task demand? These are key things to consider before you schedule events on your calendar.
For instance, if you are scheduling time to organize and reply to emails, you may want to save this for the end of the day when you may have less energy. Tasks that require a higher cognitive load, like creating a slide deck, are better scheduled for times when you are more alert and focused.
7 Google Calendar Tips for Success
To help you get the most out of Google Calendar, here are some tips that will help you work to your full potential.
- Change Your View: You can view your calendar by day, week, month, year, and more. There are even custom views like 4-day weeks or a “no weekends” view. The right view brings clarity and focus. Learn more here.
- Multiple Calendars: You can create multiple calendars as needed. You could have one for work and a family calendar that you share with your spouse. You can show or hide each calendar as needed for a cleaner view. Learn more here.
- Use Emoji: Adding an emoji to a calendar event is a great way to call attention to it on your calendar. Add a ☎️ when you have a phone call to make or 👨👩👧👦 for family events.
- Color Coding: You can choose a color for each calendar you own, but you can also choose a color for each event you create. Like emoji, colors give you a quick visual guide to the events you have on your calendar each day. Learn more here.
- Daily agenda: You can have your daily agenda emailed to you if you enable it in your Google Calendar settings. It arrives nice and early every morning and is a useful way to see your day at a glance. Learn more here.
- Add Attachments: Adding attachments to a calendar event is a great way to ensure that you have everything you need for a meeting. You can also ask Google Calendar to create a doc for you with the new “Meeting Notes” feature. Learn more here.
- Gmail Events: You can create a calendar event directly from Gmail. This method automatically adds the senders to the calendar event and includes the email’s subject in the event description. Learn more here.