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7 Tips to Declutter Your Calendar-and Keep It That Way

Pretend Future You Is Present You

We tend to overestimate our time and energy in the future and so we fill our calendars with tasks we think we'll be able to complete.

When you’re thinking about something in the future, ask yourself if you’d do it tomorrow. You know how much energy you have now and presume it’ll be pretty similar tomorrow. That allows you to be a little more judicious.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

7 Tips to Declutter Your Calendar-and Keep It That Way

7 Tips to Declutter Your Calendar-and Keep It That Way

https://www.themuse.com/advice/tips-declutter-calendar-make-time-what-matters

themuse.com

7

Key Ideas

Take Stock and Track Your Time

You can’t really clean up your schedule if you don’t know what’s in it—and that includes all the things on your literal and official calendar and all the things that aren’t. 

Purge Recurring Meetings and Tasks

Once you know what’s on your calendar, ask yourself: “What is the purpose of each thing on here? Are we accomplishing that or does something need to change?” 

Question each task. Start with recurring meetings, which can very easily build up and take over your calendar.

Sort Things By Importance and Urgency

... and put them in one of four quadrants:

  • Quadrant I: Important, Urgent (crises, last-minute meetings for important deadlines)
  • Quadrant II: Important, Not Urgent (strategic planning, long-term goal setting)
  • Quadrant III: Not Important, Urgent (certain emails, phone calls, meetings, and events)
  • Quadrant IV: Not Important, Not Urgent (scrolling mindlessly through social media, binge-watching TV you don’t really care about).

Minimize or Outsource

Is there a task at work that you could delegate or outsource? Delegate or partner up with someone to ease your job.

If you can’t pass off certain tasks to others wholesale, try to minimize the time and effort they require. 

Create Blocks

Part of cleaning up your schedule is finding strategies to prevent it from getting cluttered again.

Block chunks of time on your calendar when you won’t be available to answer emails or phone calls or to attend meetings. This will prevent other things from accumulating and occupying the time you need.

Don’t Forget Downtime

Time management is also about making room for the non-work things you love and those that allow you to recharge.

Think about what recharges your batteries: It might be nature, exercise, friends, art, baking, or anything else you enjoy. And make time for it.

Pretend Future You Is Present You

We tend to overestimate our time and energy in the future and so we fill our calendars with tasks we think we'll be able to complete.

When you’re thinking about something in the future, ask yourself if you’d do it tomorrow. You know how much energy you have now and presume it’ll be pretty similar tomorrow. That allows you to be a little more judicious.

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The Planning Fallacy

We all have busy schedules, but we are incorrectly planning our day around the time we have, not around priorities.

Our estimates on how long certain tasks will take are almost always ...

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important."

The 4 Kinds of Priorities

The Decision Matrix on how to approach tasks has 4 quadrants:

  • Quadrant 1: The Urgent Problems which are important.
  • Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but important tasks
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent but not really important
  • Quadrant  4: Distractions and time-wasting tasks. 

Prioritize the important (Quadrant 2) to attain maximum benefit from your work.

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Checking Email

Check email only at set points during the day. 
  • you may decide that you'll only check your email before lunch, and at the end of the day.
  • you can also reserve time to re...

Checking your email regularly...

... during the day can be an effective way to keep your inbox at manageable levels.

However, the constant interruption and distraction that comes from it can dramatically lower your productivity, and disrupt your ability to enter a state of flow when working on high value projects.

Reading Email

  • Try using the "Two-Minute Rule" when you read your mail: if the email will take less than two minutes to read and reply to, then take care of it right now, even if it's not a high priority.
  • For emails that will take longer than two minutes to read or respond to, schedule time on your calendar, or add this as an action on your To-Do List , to do later. 

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Scheduling your day

A good daily schedule is a blueprint for a successful life. 

Knowing what we’re doing and when empowers us with a sense of purpose, meaning, and focus.

Scheduling styles

When it comes to our daily schedule, most people fall into one of two camps:
  • The Overscheduler: Their days are determined from the moment they wake up to their evening routine.
  • The Minimalist: They’ve got one or two recurring events, but a whole lot of white space so they’re “free” (at least on paper) for long stretches of work.

Your most important work

The most successful people consistently get their most important work done first.

Build recurring time for your most important work in the morning, before you start anything else. Your energy levels are naturally higher in the morning, but completing a meaningful task first thing has also a domino effect that pushes you through the day.

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