Calendars optimize productivity. They help you remember important dates, make plans, and set events in motion – but further, they help you visually structure and organize your days and weeks. They help us feel organized, like everything is taken care of. Many people still use paper calendars that hang on refrigerators and office walls — mostly offering a beautiful picture or inspirational saying. Others have migrated to digital calendars on their desktops and mobile devices.
According to serial entrepreneur and CEO and Founder of Calendar, John Rampton, people should be leveraging the power of their calendar across their professional and personal lives. John was ranked as the #2 most influential marketers in the world by Entrepreneur magazine. He’s a global speaker and writes for many top publications, such as Forbes and Entrepreneur. He’s busy. He understands the need for calendars and scheduling, and he states that there are so many ways peoples’ lives can be enhanced if they decided to employ Calendar to organize and structure their lives.
Recently, I interviewed John to find out what could be done with our calendars to improve productivity, time management, and gain perspective about life balance.
HHS: What are most people doing wrong when it comes to their Calendar?
JR: The sizable error people are doing wrong with their calendar is not using it. We all have a calendar on our phones, which is generally investigated when there’s a question about a key date, to see if we are free.
Other than that, I don’t see many people entering all their appointments, meetings, and events. People don’t seem to share their calendar with others that are involved in those activities, which is such a pricey mistake, costing hours of our precious time. Those who organize and automate how they handle their Calendars gain power for their work and personal schedules.
HHS: What’s the biggest productivity myth out there?
JR: To me, the biggest productivity myth is multitasking. This misguided notion has been billed as the ideal way to manage time and accomplish more. In reality, multitasking causes an even greater waste of time.
Well-meaning multitaskers end up doing a lot of things badly and don’t necessarily finish tasks they planned to get done. Multitasking end-up as unproductive jugglers because their mental focus is pulled in many directions. While you think you are jumping from one task to another quickly, it’s not as fast as focusing on one task, drilling through it, and then moving onto the next task with maximum focus.
The only type of multitasking I agree with is when you leverage automated tools to work in the background, getting tasks done for you while you focus on other things.
HHS: Tell us about how you organize your Calendar for an average work week.
JR: I start organizing my calendar each Saturday rather than waiting until Sunday night to do it. Quickly running through my calendar a day earlier than is sometimes recommended gives me more quiet time to think.
As I go about my Saturday business of exercise, meeting friends, and taking my daughter for a walk, numerous thoughts about what I want to accomplish in the coming week come to my mind. From a personal and professional standpoint, this change has growth-hacked my productivity like nothing else so far.
Also, I check in with my team and family to see what they’ve added to my calendar or to see if there is anything else I need to plan. Everything I do is scheduled in chunks of time, focusing on the one task at a time and making time for quick breaks, email checks, or a brief set of exercises.
I also briefly look ahead on my calendar for speaking events, client meetings, product updates and rollouts, and family trips that are all booked well in advance. Having every event planned well in advance makes it so that if an emergency comes up ,you know exactly what can instantly be moved on your schedule.
High-level calendar habits allow you the freedom to choose your path and live a better quality of life. Because you’re continually assessing your short-term and long-term priorities you can make split-second business decisions that bring you success.
HHS: Is it true that we should separate our time based on tasks for optimal focus?
JR: Yes, completely. When you separate tasks by time, you have set yourself a limit on how much time you will spend on each task. That means you’ll be less likely to let distractions interfere. I tell myself, “On this project, I’ll be done in an hour.” Setting a clock on a task becomes a bar you’ve set for yourself.
You still want to do the best job possible — not just be fast. But, setting up your beginning and ending time is a tactic to help you hyper-focus. Emails, phone calls, social media or other interruptions just don’t happen — you don’t let them.
HHS: How can Calendar help today’s busiest entrepreneurs?
JR: I’m working with an incredible development team who understands my vision. As a busy entrepreneur myself, I want Calendar to help all entrepreneurs focus on building their businesses rather than losing time scheduling their work and life.
I want the busiest entrepreneur to be able to design the life they dream about. We’ve created a desktop and mobile solution that lets you sync and share all your calendars, including your Apple Calendar, Google Calendar, and Yahoo Calendar, with Calendar, so what you add to one Calendar, can be added to all. In allowing the sharing functionality, an entrepreneur can allow team members to add items to their calendar which simplifies the meeting planning process.
My favorite part of this calendar is AI enabled functionality, giving an entrepreneur the benefit of a virtual assistant right in their Calendar. Our AI functionality learns your schedule, contacts, and typical appointments. It checks others’ schedules that are connected to your calendar and starts scheduling meetings and appointments on your behalf. This virtual assistant on your Calendar is an incredible time saver.
We have other AI functionality in the works that will take on more of your time-consuming tasks creating extra time for busy entrepreneurs. Plus, the Calendar app integrates with other critical business software for further productivity gains. These programs work together to share information and handle basic assistant tasks enabling you the freedom to focus on your business.
HHS: How can we optimize our calendar use to help us manage our to-do lists?
JR: I make my calendar the productivity and priority hub for myself. My calendar directs what type of to-do list I make each day. I make the list right when I get up in the morning. It only takes a minute or two, because everything was done on Saturday. By syncing all the calendars you’re using, there are many options for to-do lists that can be created straight from the events already listed on your calendar. Your team can do the same and share those to-do lists with you.
Overall, this saves everyone a lot of typing, checking and scheduling. It’s done. As items are completed from your daily agenda and to-do list, you’ll be able to track your productivity and that of your team all in one place.
A big thank you to John for sharing his tried and true Calendar habits. Be right back, I’m organizing mine now! Download Calendar to optimize your productivity, and join the Next Gen Community for other life and work hacks.