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The calendar is a critical tool for your success when it comes to time management and productivity. Over the years of working with clients, I've found there are five fundamentals that you should follow to help you get the most from your calendar and avoid common mistakes. First of all, understand the time behaves like money; it must be budgeted, because when it's gone, it's gone. Therefore, whenever you process something that's going to take longer than 15 minutes, put it on your calendar.
That way you can make a withdrawal on your time budget and assure that you don't overcommit yourself. This leads to the second principle: avoid double-booking yourself. Now this is a recipe for disaster. It's a bit like spending time on a credit card. When you double-book yourself, even if you think one of the appointments might fall through, you're creating a situation where you're going to be tempted to multitask, which will cause you to lose lots of time and make mistakes.
You'll have to often reschedule and retrace your steps. The third principle will help you avoid double scheduling, which is, never commit to an appointment without having your calendar resource on hand. Sometimes people will make an appointment and say, "let's do lunch next week," or, "I'll call you next Tuesday at 3 o'clock," but they don't put it into their calendar. This is a critical mistake you should avoid; otherwise you'll put the pressure on your mind to remember when you're supposed to do things.
Also, you may not allocate a proper amount of time when you can't see the appointment visually in your calendar. So always keep your calendar with you and always put your appointments in your calendar. Forth, schedule buffer and travel time for appointments. In other words, avoid having appointments that are back to back, 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, with no room to breathe in the middle. This isn't practical or realistic, especially in today's information-overloaded world.
You need to leave space between your appointments for the unexpected interruptions, to take a moment to breathe and relax, to prepare for the next meaning that you have. And certainly if you have to travel from one meeting to the next, make sure to give yourself even more buffer time to travel. The fifth and final principle: think of your calendar as a commitment. It's a commitment to yourself and it's a commitment to others. When you budget time in a calendar, stick to it.
Don't put suggestions of when you might do things into the calendar. When you reach the point in the course that discusses processing, I'll explain in depth about the difference between calendared items and tasked items. But for now understand that only things that are less than 15 minutes and don't have a deadline can go to your task list. And anything that has a deadline and anything that is longer than 15 minutes has to go to your calendar, so that you've properly budgeted time to complete those items and complete them in a timely manner.
So in summary: first, remember that time behaves like money; second, avoid double scheduling yourself; third, never commit to an appointment without your calendar on hand; forth, schedule buffer time and travel time; and fifth, when you schedule something on your calendar, commit to it. Follow these principles and you'll be using your calendar effectively.
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