Your Calendar, emails, tasks & notes

Episode 04 October 19, 2021 00:08:25
Your Calendar, emails, tasks & notes
W10 - Additional tools and tips to save time
Your Calendar, emails, tasks & notes

Show Notes

Typically these are apps you’ll be using all day, every day.
So, a good question is: how can I become more productive and organised when working with these apps?

The first thing to note is that these apps are often related. For example, you may receive an email that causes you to do one or more of the following: create a task, a calendar entry, or a note. So, it will save you time if these apps all integrate well together.

Switching between apps can take deliberate effort and may result in you forgetting to complete some vital tasks. For example, you may add tasks in an app then forget to regularly visit that app to see what you need to do.

In general, it pays to be deliberate about simplifying your online life. For example, you could use an app such as Active Inbox to integrate your tasks and your email into the same app. That way, your tasks are visible while doing your emails, and it is easy to create a task from an email. Also, you don’t have to switch between apps continually.

First, let’s consider your Calendar.

When it comes to your email and calendar apps, it’s good to go with a major supplier who continually updates their products. For example, Google or Microsoft. We use Google and are therefore more able to provide hints and tips for the Google platform.

Another advantage of going with Google or Microsoft is that many third-party suppliers have an incentive to provide useful add-ons that integrate well with Google and Microsoft.

The first life-changing enhancement we recommend you add to your Calendar is the ability to send a link allowing others to book a time in your Calendar. Initially, this may sound terrible because you feel you don’t want others to control your time. However, you soon discover that you are in control. As a result, you save a lot of time for yourself and others and significantly reduce your stress levels.

Typically, you will have many entries on your diary and attempting to book time for another meeting often becomes a time-wasting mission. For example, you suggest a meeting time only to find that the other person is not available at that time. They then propose an alternative time that does not suit you. And so on. Having the ability to send a link for the other person to book a free time slot in your Calendar that suits them means that it’s immediately done. The booking will automatically appear in your Calendar, and you will also receive a notification by email.

Using a booking system has many additional advantages such as:

You can block time out for other activities.
You can place a buffer around meetings in your diary. For example, you can specify that others can’t book in for 15 minutes before or after an event in your Calendar.
You can provide a variety of event times of differing durations. For example, 15 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins and so on. In addition, you can send some people the ability to book in only for a specific time duration.
The system can link with apps such as Zoom to automatically create a Zoom link for the meeting.
You can request additional information such as their mobile phone number & anything they consider could be relevant for the meeting.
You can provide more information about you to the person making the booking in the booking form they fill out.
You can set the system up to send them an email confirmation and reminder emails, and SMS.
Various apps provide the above functionality. We use the Calendly app and suggest that this app is an excellent place to start. There is a free version of Calendly, and the paid version is relatively inexpensive and of good value.

If you use your calendar app to contain your tasks and appointments, you may find looking at an utterly crowded calendar overwhelming. Instead, consider separating your tasks and projects from your Calendar.

Next, let’s consider the app you use to manage your emails.

In general, we receive a massive amount of emails from multiple sources.
Everyone has different ways of dealing with this.
You need to find a way that works for you without anything “falling between the cracks”.

Gmail and Outlook both have many features that will enable you to deal with a large volume of emails.

Here are some things to consider that could help you:

Use filters to deal with many emails automatically.
Take the time to set up your inbox in a way that suits your workflow. Then, learn about the basic features of the email app you are using.
Many emails will trigger tasks, projects or notes. Many apps integrate with your email to make this easy. For example, you can forward an email to Evernote. You can then move the note created in Evernote to a notebook or give it a tag.
You can integrate apps such as TODOist or ActiveInbox with your email. Such apps work well. However, be aware that switching between apps can drain your energy.

Become more proactive than reactive and reduce context-switching.

Many tasks and projects work best when you allocate blocks of time to them. This means that you need only to check your emails at the intervals you pre-determine. You should also consider reducing the number of notifications you allow to interrupt the time you block out for other tasks.

How do you currently manage your Todo’s?

Do you feel your task management could be better?
Different types of tasks with varying levels of importance or urgency will continually arise from varying sources.

For example, you may receive an email from a colleague containing a link to a TED talk that they believe will be useful for you.

You may receive another email informing you that the software system you are responsible for has a critical issue.

You may be on a Zoom call when someone says something that reminds you of how you may be able to advocate for someone in the CC.

Or you may have a “light bulb moment” while you are in the shower for one of the projects you are working on.

How do you quickly capture all these tasks, ideas, projects and content?

How do you categorise and prioritise them?
Especially as new tasks and to-dos continually arise?

It is great to have a comprehensive task management system that integrates with your email system, such as todoist.

On the other hand, you don’t want to spend your life constantly putting things into a task management system and swapping between apps. This can be overwhelming. It can also be demotivating if you feel you are putting more tasks into your system than you are crossing off.

A tool and a systematic way of managing tasks can help you a great deal.

Here are some tips that may help you:

Look at apps such as the Todoist and ActiveInbox for Gmail.
Consider using Evernote to store content that could be useful in the future but does not warrant creating a task right now.
Create some rules for yourself around the time you will allocate to different types of tasks and projects.

How do you currently take notes?

Many of us are used to taking notes with pen and paper.
And we like it.

However, taking notes on paper has some obvious drawbacks.
For example, you have to scan through the notes you have written to find the information you are after. This can be time-consuming. It can also be disjointed when you have taken several notes on the same topic at different times. You are also likely to become distracted by other notes searching for the one you are after.

Many people have a 2 stage process.
First, they take notes with pen and paper.
Then at the end of the day, they examine all the notes they have taken and record them in an app such as Evernote or Todoist.

If this is you, consider cutting out the pen and paper note-taking step by typing straight into an app such as Evernote. Evernote makes this easy by providing a scratchpad for you to take quick notes. Evernote can also integrate with your Calendar, making it easy to click a meeting link that creates a note containing the date, meeting topic, a section to record notes, and a section to record required action steps.

It is easy to take notes in Evernote during a Zoom meeting - especially if you have dual monitors or one large monitor.

Change is usually not easy. Especially when you have to set up a new app, get used to it and form a new habit. However, it’s worth scheduling the time to make gradual changes when there are significant benefits such as time-saving, reduced stress, greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Episode Transcript

No transcript available...

Other Episodes

Episode 01

October 16, 2021 00:01:20
Episode Cover

Overview of tools and tips plus your questions

Overview of tools & Tips + Your Questions This is the final workshop before you go into the leadership and personal development series. Although we encourage you to repeat any of these workshops to get a refresher, now is an excellent time to ask any questions you may have about anything that has been covered in the workshops so far. Typically, we learn something that we are not yet ready to put into practice as we progress. It, therefore, makes sense to revisit the relevant workshop(s), ask your connector or attend fast-track Zoom sessions to gain greater clarity. This session covers additional tools and tips to save time. Although these tips and tools will typically help you in many aspects of your daily activities, they are specifically designed to help you with your consistent network-building activities. We believe that consistent activity is critical for success in most endeavours. So, now is an excellent time to revisit how you are going with your consistency. Have you managed to establish consistent mini-habits? Forming consistent mini-habits is something that most people know they need to do, yet they struggle with it. So, if you have had some breakthroughs that you feel others may benefit from, please feel free to volunteer them during this or other workshops. ...


Episode 01

October 18, 2021 00:02:27
Episode Cover

How interested are you in becoming more organised and productive?

Sometimes you are so busy that the thought of putting in more time to become more organised and productive is overwhelming in itself. You may also feel that if it involves tech, it’s something you won’t enjoy or be good at. You may feel that becoming personally organised is something you’d rather delegate or outsource. However, it’s essential to realise that we are talking about your personal productivity here. You really can not outsource some aspects of personal organisation and productivity any more than you can outsource lifting weights at the gym! There are just some things you really can’t outsource. What are some of the benefits of becoming more organised and productive? You become less stressed because you immediately know where to find things.You know your calendar will let you know what meetings you need to attend and for how long.You spend less energy context-switching because you can set aside blocks of time for specific projects or tasks.You feel more relaxed knowing that your system is automatically taking care of some tasks.You can save a great deal of time - especially by automating repetitive tasks.In general, others will admire and respect you more when you are organised and punctual. What barriers might some of your team members have to investing time to become more productive and organised? I’m just not good at or interested in tech.There are so many tools it’s overwhelming.Change is something I avoid where possible.I find technology unbelievably frustrating. How might you best help your team members become more productive & organised with the use of great technology? Here are some great ways to communicate the importance of adopting technology to your team members ...


Episode 03

October 19, 2021 00:03:03
Episode Cover

Consider investing in better computer equipment

Consider investing in better computer equipment. If you already have a fast computer with multiple screens, you probably can’t imagine how you ever lived without them! We are increasingly spending more time using computers. One of the main reasons for this is that we are increasingly conducting more meetings via video conferencing, and this trend is likely to continue. If you are currently working on a small laptop screen or a more than 3 years old computer, it may be worth considering an upgrade. If you are not tech-savvy, it may be worth asking someone you trust for advice. Here are some things to consider: Invest in a home computer as well as a laptop. Given that most of your data is now probably stored in the cloud, you can easily move from your home computer to your laptop when you need to. If most of your data is not currently stored in the cloud, consider moving to cloud storage. One of the most significant advantages of this is that you can access cloud data on most devices and seamlessly move from one device to another. You may also consider using a portable monitor that can be plugged into your laptop, effectively giving you 2 screens on your laptop. Your home computer should have at least 2 large high-resolution monitors or one even larger monitor capable of being divided into multiple virtual screens. Your home computer should be high performance. For example, it should have fast processing power, solid-state drives, and, in particular, enough memory to support many open browser tabs. It’s also good to do whatever you can to speed up your internet access. In deciding to invest in good computer hardware, it’s worth considering the following: How much are you worth? ...