A few years ago I wrote two blog posts on managing my calendar or time – technology has moved on a lot since then so I thought I would write a very short update.
Challenges of managing time
My original post highlighted a number of challenges with managing diaries and calendars, including:
- Complicated diary with many appointments
- Frequent diary changes
- Getting to meetings and leaving the time to do so
- Problems with meetings that change caused by visual memory
- Personal calendar vs work calendar
- Client/customer calendars
I am not going to repeat the detail here but you can click this link to see the original post re the challenges of managing time and calendars.
Since I wrote that post I left a big-4 consulting firm with a large team and a PA and now operate independently… so with much less support and probably busier! So if anything, things have got worse! That having been said, I probably understand my difficulties better and have developed more strategies to manage them.
Strategies and technologies
In the second post I looked at the strategies and technologies that I had identified to try to mitigate the difficulties. Broadly these included:
- Electronic diaries vs paper methods
- Which diary view to use
- Mobile technology
- Using Colour
- Using All Day Events
- Using reminders
- Leaving enough time
- Arranging travel and logistics
- Reviewing and re-planning
- PA Support
- Diary vs. tasks
Again, you can click on the link here to access the original post on strategies and technologies.
Lots of this still has applicability but is very out of date. I’m now on my second iPad and thinking of replacing that… so much has moved on!
Diary management in 2018
I still do much of what was described in the articles above. However, a few updates would include:
Now I don’t have a PA I have to arrange a lot of meetings myself. I find juggling the multiple diaries very hard. However, Microsoft have added a fantastic facility to their Outlook apps for mobile that allows you to visually pick spaces in your diary pop a list of them in an email to offer time slots to people. Regardless of whether I am sitting at my PC or not I will almost always use mobile to offer people meeting times. I do wish they would add the same facility to Outlook for desktop!
I have “subscribed” to multiple calendars both on mobile (iPad and iPhone) and in Outlook on my PC. For example, I often attend events that have been organised using Eventbrite so I have linked my Eventbrite account to my calendar and anything I have booked a place on simply appears (with all the relevant ticket and address details).
Downloading calendar events
I take a lot of trains. Things like Trainline.com often let you download your booking as a calendar appointment. That is brilliant as it avoids errors in reading or transposing details.
Microsoft vs Apple
Nowadays, I would like to think it is a little more Microsoft and Apple rather than “vs”. As a result, after some effort(!), I can see my apple calendars in my Microsoft apps and vice versa. iCloud control panel works reasonably for this and there are also other was to achieve this.
Outlook and multiple calendars
One nice feature of outlook (I particularly like the desktop version for this) is that you can readily overlay multiple calendars – they will be different colours but it gives you a real sense of what your day or week will be like instead of having to remember that you must leave the meeting on time or you will miss the parents evening at your children’s school.
I now share a calendar with family – so other people (my wife or children) spot when I haven’t got personal appointments in there/ (I do this on iOS using family sharing – you can pick a family group and create a family calendar). This is very easy to setup if you are all apple users… not so easy if not but there are ways to do it.
Publishing your calendar
When I work with clients I occasionally “publish” my main calendar so that they can see when I might be available for meetings – it avoids lots of unnecessary problems. You can limit what they can see simply to “free / busy”.
I now put in travel time explicitly so that time is committed – and I always put in addresses so that I can use google straight from the calendar appointment to get the last 500m of the journey right and not get lost (and late!). That works really well on mobile – as you can literally click the appointment and ask for directions.
Requesting calendar appointments
I always ask people to send me calendar appointments even when this means showing them how to do it first… that way someone else is thinking about whether it is the right day or time. I absolutely hate receiving email invites to meetings – I will miss them. So when they do arrive I try to tag them as tasks or forward them to something like Trello to action.
Siri / Cortana
Wonderful things. I use them a lot. The way they can read your email and suggest the appointments that you may be being invited to; talking to them to ask them to set things up etc.
This was just a short update. I am sure there is a lot more to cover and will at some stage combine all three articles.
Please do leave any thoughts you may have in the comments.