Use Google Calender to simplify your life
I am one of those people who usually have ten jobs on the go at anyone time, ( I think anyone who is in Small Business/Flying Solo can relate to this) and I am very aware that swapping from task to task makes me ineffective and leaves me with a sick feeling of overwhelm. A typical start to my day is telling myself how much I need to do and I try to plan it all in my head (who has time to write it down- right!) and usually by the end of the day I’m thinking exactly the same thoughts – but throw in “I have been doing stuff all day but haven’t achieved anything”. Of course, there was also the problem of forgetting lots of stuff and I needed somewhere were I could makes notes, record information and keep track of all this!
Anyway, a couple of months ago, I decided I really needed to fix this. That’s when I decided to experiment with an online calendar – Google Calendar, to be exact. (If you’re unfamiliar with it, then you’ll be happy to know it is free to use with a Gmail account.).
So this is what I started to do: every Sunday I actually tried to out plan my entire week. This even included the essentials, like remembering to buy food, birthdays, pay bills, appointments, work and even house cleaning got a mention. I also made sure to schedule in blocks of time for completing projects for my clients.
After a while of using it, I decided this is absolutely the right tool for me. I want to share with you what I learned, in case you’re currently struggling with your own time/ activity management. Hopefully my experience will spark you to set up your own calendar system!
Who is it for?
Anyone who needs to improve their activity/ time management. While anyone can benefit from it, I would say this system is perfect for visual learners, like me. That’s mainly because Google Calendar paints a picture for me. Once I put all my items in, I have the choice to view an image of my week, month etc, I have all my events details in one place and it allows me to easily re assign tasks . Whether you are using Outlook or Google the software is easy to learn but if you want to know more I suggest you head over to you tube and watch some online training.
What did I learn?
The first time I did this, I found something interesting. My week looked crazy at first – totally overloaded. And that’s when I realized something. What you think you can do, and what you can actually do, are usually two different things. I also realized how much time I was spending on activities that really had nothing to do with the task. I love being on the computer and I easily get distracted by consuming content and not creating (Thank you, Facebook). My new system in Google Calendar makes me more accountable, it helps me see how (and where) I could make better use of my time each day.
The other nice feature is the ability to create and view different calendars. I have separate calendars set up on Google for some of my clients and I can invite them to view them. So that means I’m able to choose to view that calendar only; in essence silencing the others. That lets me see just the projects happening for that account. It’s also a great way for me to come back and keep a record of how I’m spending my time working for them. Handy, if you need to arrange a time to catch up, you are able to send them an invite via email with all the details. The have options to accept or adjust the meeting and I have found this to be an effective way to communicate.
What about notifications?
This is one of the best parts, for me. I love the option to set up notifications – for example 1 day or even 10 minutes prior to the appointment. Not only can those receive these notifications via email, but I set them to ping me on my smartphone. Syncing between devices like that is an absolute necessity these days. Since experimenting with this a few months ago, I have transitioned into using Google Calendar daily.
Progress not Perfection is my new motto!
If you’re struggling with managing your time, and with a sense of massive overwhelm, I’d really recommend giving it a try. I really believe it will take you from “too busy” to “organized chaos.”
Like everything, it is a work in progress but this method is allowing me to see the extra things that are sneaking into my week – and whether or not they were totally necessary. In other words, it helps me to FOCUS..something that I am not good at for long periods of time. I like to work on four simple tasks a day and then prioritize them. Of course, some big projects can take months but scheduling now allows time to chip away at the smaller tasks and this helps me to keep momentum.
This is just one strategy that you can use to buy back some extra time to do the things you love.