To get started on creating your own master calendar, here’s 10 tips that you should follow.
1. Jot down all of your recurring dates and activities.
Now that you have these activities listed, start inputting them into your calendar to create a schedule. For example, if you have a team meeting every Tuesday at 3pm, then create that as a recurring event.
2. Establish clear work boundaries.
Making this schedule not only guarantees that I’m getting everything done, it allows me to create a more structured calendar. For instance, I don’t schedule meetings in the morning since that’s eating into my peak productivity time. Instead, I’ll schedule a meeting between noon or two pm.
This structure also keeps my working hours contained. This way I’m not spending too much time at work. If I’m done at five pm, then I’m only working on soft tasks for the last hour or so to ensure that I’m done on time.
3. Make important dates and deadlines stand-out.
To be honest, you should just go ahead and color code your various tasks and appointments so they’re easy to differentiate with each other. For internal team meetings you could use blue, while client meetings could be orange. I even highlight events so that I’m not wasting time with networking events.
4. Include time buffers on your schedules.
If you’re traveling, however, you’ll probably want to bump that up to an hour.
During this period, don’t schedule anything else. You need this time to flawlessly flow from one meeting to the next.
5. Be flexible.
However, you could push the meeting to 3:30 instead of 3:00 pm. This way you’re not cancelling the meeting since everyone can attend.
In my master calendar, I always schedule some time before and after an exact time. I usually use this time to prepare or recharge. But I’ve also used these blocks to adjust meeting times if I have to.
6. Use a combination of tools.
I rely on Google Calendar for setting my daily routine. I also receive reminders and can easily share it with others. For scheduling meetings, Calendar App is my go-to-tool (I also built it). Other times I use a project management tools like Basecamp to stay-on-top of projects.
Find which tools work best for you, and make the most out of them. If they’re working for you, then stick with them.
7. Capture information.
As David Allen explains in the iconic Getting Things Done, this will make sure that you won’t forget about it. More importantly, it frees your brain so that you’re not retaining too much information.
8. Designate one person to be in charge.
If you have too many people editing the calendar, it can get messy real fast. If they need to add an event, it goes through the person in charge of the calendar first. This way the new event can be added to an open time slot so that you’re not double-booked.
9. Share the calendar with your team.
Sharing your calendar also saves you time and balances out assignments.
At the same time, you also want to make sure that it’s collaborative and inclusive. For example, you may not mind those four pm meetings on Wednesdays. But, what if some of your team lives in a different time zone? It may be six pm for them, which you’re taking-up their personal time.
Tools like Calendar can make scheduling events or appointments much easier since your team can select the best date and time for them.
10. Keep the master calendar centrally located.
If you want to be old school, you could print out a copy and post in a central location, like your company’s bulletin board.