Take a look at your calendar, whether it be your work calendar or your personal calendar. If you track your life using one of these – you’ll probably notice that you have a LOT on your plate. If you’re not physically tracking much, assess last week’s schedule. Did you have commitments/events/tasks that filled up each day? Did you save any time for downtime? Did you sporadically complete errands or tasks throughout the week leaving you feeling flustered or overwhelmed? Today we’re breaking down your daily schedule, how you track it and how to stay more organized, by decluttering your calendar – and reassessing your commitments. Check it out!
Assess Your Schedule
This how-to is probably the most obvious, however, it’s key to follow before you start decluttering your calendar. Maybe you have commitments or tasks that are things you don’t enjoy doing or need to be doing. Or maybe there are tasks that can be changed to one-time tasks or pushed to a certain period of your day (which we’ll touch on later). Take inventory of what you have on your calendar before you start organizing it.
Assess Recurring Tasks and Meetings
If your days are being taken up by the same things each day – assess the purpose of them. Are the tasks or meetings effective and productive? Would they be accomplished in less time? Would they be accomplished if they were only once a month? Review where you are spending a lot of your time and see how you can adjust them to make sense for you and your productivity.
Don’t Put Simple Tasks on Your Calendar
Tasks that take just a few minutes to complete should not be on your calendar. Not only will it cause you to feel overwhelmed, but it’s a great way to start dismissing your calendar if you have too many tasks listed. Especially if they are non-urgent tasks. So instead? Add these tasks to a to-do list and keep it separate from your calendar.
Keep Your To-Do’s and Calendars Separate
Having a to-do list is incredibly efficient. But there’s a reason that your “reminders” and your “calendar” apps are separate apps on your phone. Your calendar should consist of commitments, such as scheduled plans, appointments, meetings, events, travel, and the obvious – work. If you feel the need to save time for your to-do’s, schedule those during a certain period or “block” of the day and do them all at once.
Utilize Time Blocking
Saving to-do’s for “block scheduling” is one of the most efficient ways to get a lot done in a shorter amount of time. For example, maybe after work, you leave an hour block for errands. All errands that you have on your list of things to do are all done during this hour of your day. You should also save blocks of time for meetings, uninterrupted time, etc. to ensure your schedule is most effective.
Keep a Consistent Task Schedule
If you have recurring tasks every week, assign them to a specific day. Maybe one day/week you do all your errands, one day/week you do household chores, one day/week you send follow up emails, one day/week you schedule meetings. This will allow you to mindlessly complete tasks that are consistently done without trying to figure out which day to squeeze it into so it gets done.
Include Unplug Time
Your calendar should include a block of time that’s free of work, appointments, and commitments. Maybe you leave yourself a 30-minute window twice a day. Or maybe you allow yourself 30 minutes post-work, to regroup. Either way, factor in downtime, it may make a bigger difference than you think.
Schedule a Day for No Plans
You should have at least one day on your calendar – free – and unavailable for scheduling throughout the week (if possible). It’s common to feel the need to fill up each day of the week when you’re not working. Free time is wasted time, right? Not necessarily. If we’re filling up all of our time – we leave no time for “catch up” or recharge days.
Allow yourself one free day a week to tackle things you may not have had time for, or to just relax and recharge. Whatever you decide to do with this time – know that not having a commitment is still something that should be blocked on your calendar.
Sort Your Tasks and Responsibilities
Organize what needs to be done by importance. Let’s say you have a list of tasks that you want to get done after work. Start by organizing those to-dos by most important, then tackle those things first. If you run out of time to complete all tasks, the not-so-important things were all that was left anyway and you feel less pressure to squeeze them in.
Just like our previous blog about finding more time for personal development, outsource things that you can. Whether that be chores, errands, or even tasks at work that maybe someone else passed off on you because that’s just “the way it was always done”. Don’t be afraid to delegate and outsource things that do not need to be completed by you.
Start Saying No
Last but MOST importantly not least, say no. You don’t have to agree to every invitation or demand that is requested of you. Maybe you say yes to a few things that feel doable for you and your schedule. Or maybe you save those plans/commitments to certain times of the month. But be comfortable with declining. It’s not offensive; it’s putting your priorities first so that you can perform at your best.
How to Decline
Here are some ways from Rachel Jones, that you can use to politely decline an invitation. “Thank you for thinking of me, I’m sorry I won’t be able to attend.” Or “I’m sorry, that doesn’t work for my schedule, but can we meet next week? Or next month? Tuesdays are good for me.” “I’m honored that you would like my help, but I’m not in a situation to give it the time it deserves.”
Trust us, these responses are completely acceptable and honestly understood. The person appreciates the upfront response, and the effort to reschedule if possible. Jus avoid responding with “maybe”. You may feel that you’re being nice when you are vague about responding – unless you do actually have to check your schedule or decide if it is something you can do. But Jones suggests to “commit to giving a yes or no answer after 24 hours”. When you know you are unable to be there – saying no is not rude. It’ fairer than wondering if you’re attending or not.
How do you declutter your calendar?
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