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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.