Last month, my daughter I went on a college tour in New England. In six days, we visited five different schools in seven states. We stayed in four different hotels and attended schedule college information sessions, campus tours and met with coaches. And, I used my calendar to keep track of it all.
Most of us consistently use Outlook, Google or iCal to schedule and keep track of our business meetings. These tools are great for checking schedules, finding meeting rooms and getting group meetings on calendars. But, they can also be very effective in helping you manage your own time and if used properly can actually help you be more efficient and productive.
Here are some ways you can get more value out of your calendaring tool:
INCLUDE THE WHERE
Most calendaring tools have a field for “Where.” Most often this is the conference room. However, for off-site meetings or conference calls, use this field to include the full address of the meeting location for quick access to driving directions or conference call dial-in information so you don’t have to hunt for it.
ENTER CONTACT INFORMATION
Take an extra minute to add in phone numbers and email addresses of meeting attendees in the notes section in case you are running late and need to inform someone. This is especially helpful when you’re stuck in traffic and are unable to dig to find contact information. This also comes in handy if you are waiting for someone and want to find out where they are.
ACCOUNT FOR TRAVEL TIME
If the meeting is off-site at another location, block time before and after the meeting for travel. This will ensure that you or someone else doesn’t book something else at the same time you need to get to the meeting. Allow for more time than you think you need. If you get there early, you can use the extra time to reply to a text, quickly check emails, or browse your social networks.
ATTACH AN AGENDA
Most tools allow you to include attachments. Use this feature to attach the agenda so you’ll know what will be discussed. You can also attach any related notes or a list of questions so you can easily access them during the meeting and make the most of the meeting time.
TRY THIS OUT: Take a look at your calendar for the week ahead. What additional information can be added to your meeting appointments now to make your life easier later? Have you accounted for travel times? Check to see what might be missing from your calendar that you can go ahead and schedule in to make sure it gets done.
After 25 years in the corporate world, working at Lotus Development, Ernst & Young, The Weather Channel and Play On! Sports, Monisha Longacre has founded her own company, Productivity101 and created priorigami: the art of productivity. Her mission is to provide simple, actionable and easy-to-use tools to help busy adults track, prioritize and complete tasks, to better manage their time and become more productive. Her goal is for priorigami to become the "FitBit" for productivity to help people lead more meaningful lives.