29 October 2023

Calendar hygiene: a guide to cleaning up messy calendars

Is your calendar messier than a teenager’s bedroom? Time for a spring clean – read on for our top calendar hygiene tips.
8 min read
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Amy Gallagher
Content Marketer
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The saying is true - tidy desk, tidy mind. The same goes for your calendar. In the modern age of constant connectivity and hectic schedules, keeping track of appointments, meetings, social events, and personal commitments has become a challenge. When it all gets too much, it can actually make you a whopping 40% less productive. Messy calendars can lead to missed appointments, double bookings, and increased stress levels. Sound like you? You might just need a calendar spring clean.

We’ll equip you with some simple strategies and digital tools to transform your chaotic calendar into a streamlined and organized masterpiece.

1. Assessment: the first step

Calendar clean up can be a daunting task, especially if you have a particularly busy schedule, and you may not know where to even start. Before you dive into the cleaning process, take a look at the current state of your calendar. Separate recurring events and one-time appointments, and pinpoint any glaring conflicts. This step will give you a clear picture of what you're dealing with and help you plan your cleanup strategy effectively.

2. Prioritization: separate the musts from the maybes

Not every event on your calendar holds the same level of importance. Start by categorizing your commitments into "must-attend" and "optional" sections. You can even colour-code events so you can see at a glance what’s top of your priority list. This will allow you to allocate time and resources more efficiently and ensure that you're dedicating energy to what truly matters.

3. Elimination: declutter with purpose

Now that you've identified the optional commitments, it's time to declutter. Carefully evaluate each item and ask yourself whether it aligns with your priorities and goals. If an event or commitment no longer serves a meaningful purpose, it might be time to remove it from your calendar. Remember, a clutter-free calendar is a gateway to improved focus and reduced stress.

4. Time blocking: strike a balance

Time-blocking can be a powerful technique for maintaining a tidy calendar. Allocating specific time blocks for tasks can enhance productivity by dedicating focused time to each task, helping you maintain a structured day. However, if you are a busy hiring manager for example and need to provide times for interviews, it’s important to strike the right balance of blocked and free times in your calendar or this can create a scheduling nightmare for recruiters and candidates.

If there are events in your calendar that you’re willing to be more flexible with and can be overwritten if necessary, such as a focus time, you can set the event as ‘free’ in your calendar, signalling to others that you can technically be free at that time if required. If you’re using a scheduling tool, this can be particularly effective to ensure you get the most out of it and don’t run into scheduling dead-ends.

5. Consolidation: merge and conquer

Having multiple calendars can exacerbate the chaos. If you're juggling personal, work, and family calendars, consider merging them into a single system. Tools like Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, or Apple Calendar offer the ability to create multiple color-coded calendars within a single interface. This not only helps prevent double bookings but also provides a comprehensive view of your commitments.

6. Scheduling buffer: leave room for the unexpected

One of the main causes of calendar chaos and stress is the lack of buffer time between commitments. Back-to-back meetings don’t account for unexpected delays, overruns, or simply the need to take a breather. This is important for hiring managers and recruiters for example, as they need time to look over CVs and questions prior to an interview. You can even use scheduling tools like Cronofy that ensure buffer times are automatically booked into your calendar when a new event is scheduled, so there’s no chance of the dreaded wall of meetings.

7. Syncing and reminders: stay connected

Take advantage of calendar syncing features to ensure that your commitments are accessible across all your devices. Additionally, set up reminders for important events. Modern calendar apps allow you to receive notifications via email, pop-ups, or even SMS, so you never miss an important date.

8. Calendar boundaries: communication is key

Aside from the tech and tools you can utilize to keep things under control, communicating with the other people in your business is crucial. If there’s a particular time you never want to be booked in for meetings, or likewise busy times that you’re open to being flexible on, make this clear to the people booking in with you, or booking meetings on your behalf. That way you improve your working relationships and your time is respected.

9. Prevention is better than the cure: Use a scheduling tool

The best way to ensure you won’t see the double-bookings and missed meetings pile up again is to put preventative measures in place. There are plenty of tools that can help keep things organized.

Automation can significantly decrease your scheduling stress. Not only does it save you hours every week, but also ensures your calendar is always up to date and synced with the right information. Tools like Cronofy automatically update your calendar when a meeting is scheduled or rescheduled so you don’t need to worry about deleting and updating your calendar manually. It also provides you with the flexibility to override blocked times in busy calendars, and offer as specific availability as you like with our custom times feature, so there are no surprise meetings. Finally, you can take control of your calendar!

10. Maintenance: review regularly

Cleaning up your calendar is not a one-time task. Make it a habit to review and update your calendar regularly. Add new commitments promptly, remove completed tasks, and adjust your priorities as needed. This will prevent your calendar from becoming cluttered again in the future.

Conclusion

In a world where time is a precious commodity, an organized calendar is essential for maintaining sanity and achieving productivity. Cleaning up a messy calendar might seem daunting, but with the right strategies and tools, you can transform chaos into order. Scheduling tools eliminate a lot of the hard work for you and make sure you’re always up to date, as well as prevent your calendar becoming cluttered again. By following our guide, you'll be well on your way to a harmonious and productive life, one well-organized event at a time.

Want to find out more about how scheduling automation can transform a messy calendar? Book a demo with one of our expert team and see the Scheduler in action!