There are different types of calendars: old-fashioned paper notebooks, bullet journals, platforms like Trello, or apps like Google Calendar. All intended to make your days as productive and organized as possible. However, how you use a calendar is different for everyone. And, moreover, not always as efficient or effective.
Business Insider spoke to three productivity experts about how they make the most of their time. Here are their tips for maximum productivity. Make way for the most difficult tasks
Fadeke Adegbuyi, senior marketing manager at productivity app Doist, advocates making room in your calendar for ‘deep work’. Writer Cal Newport’s understanding of “activities that must be performed in a concentrated state, free from distractions, and that utilize our cognitive abilities to the fullest.” “Getting things done comes down to two important things,” Adegbuyi says. “Don’t get distracted and reach a state of flow. I am a morning person and I feel most productive in the mornings. That is why this is the part of the day where I do the most.”
You must learn to recognize the most important tasks that require deep work. Train yourself to really free up that time, advises Barnaby Lashbrooke. He is the founder of virtual assistant Time Etc.
“I keep my afternoons free for big projects or tasks where I need time to think and plan,” Lashbrooke says. “Find out when you do your best work and plan your day around it.”
2. Remember: not every task is important enough to be noted on your calendar
Lashbrooke’s full daily to-do list is not reflected on his calendar. He uses the Eisenhower Matrix, a method of prioritizing tasks based on how urgent they are. “For entrepreneurs or leaders, ‘important’ means something that helps you achieve short- and long-term goals,” he says. “Anything that is not urgent and important is a waste of time.”
With this technique, Lashbrooke reduced his workweek from 100 to 35 hours. He now uses those 65 hours gained to spend more time with his three young children, says Lashbrooke. Make a ‘master list’ of everything, and choose tasks per day that you actually perform
Chloe Leibowitz is the co-founder of We Are Tabono and a life coach who specializes in helping entrepreneurs. She maximizes her productivity by lumping all her tasks – big and small – into one pile. She makes a master list and each day chooses a few tasks that she puts on the agenda for that day. “I like to work with a master list to avoid overwhelming myself,” explains Leibowitz.She writes a so-called ‘bullet journal’ to keep track of and schedule her tasks. “Apps are easy to forget. Paper can help many people keep track of things.”
4. Block time for tasks and overestimate the time you need…
Another technique that expert Adegbuyi uses is scheduling time in the calendar. She frees up blocks of time for specific activities. “I know exactly what I’m doing between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. The trick is to set aside more time for these tasks than you initially think you will need.”
This planning requires the necessary flexibility, says Adegbuyi. “But it ensures that you don’t overload yourself. Schedule an hour and a half for a one-hour task.”
5. …but also use time boxing to force yourself to complete tasks that take too long
To work through her daily to-do list, Leibowitz uses a special method: time boxing. The brother of blocking time on your agenda.
Both techniques make use of allocating time for specific activities. But where blocks give you the time you need, boxes limit the time you use. So if you don’t manage to complete the task in the blocked time, you leave it behind and move on to the next scheduled activities. “You can get most things done in less time than you think if you don’t get distracted by phones, emails, or notifications.”
6. Use your calendar as a push message
Lashbrooke from Time Etc uses Google Calendar as an ever-present to-do list. “Since you can build in notifications and share Google Calendar, it has a lot of potential as a productivity tool,” he says. “My calendar gives me a warning five minutes before a task. That gives me enough time to drink a glass of water, make myself comfortable in my workplace and make sure I don’t get distracted,” explains Lashbrooke. “A second warning lets me know I can start, and the next tells me to stop or take a break.”
“When your day is mapped out like this, you can also be much more realistic about what you can achieve.”