Technology is a double-edged sword for busy people. On one hand, smartphones and social media have made it easier than ever to waste time without even noticing it. On the other hand, new software is released every day that’s designed to get your schedule in order.
Making technology work for your schedule means identifying the areas that require attention and addressing them. Though there are hundreds of apps that claim to get your schedule in check, not every single one will fit your needs. The wrong software can do more harm than good, so it’s important to choose what works for you.
An effective schedule pays big dividends in happiness, productivity, and ease of mind. Reining in your schedule with tech can be an overwhelming prospect, so here are a few places to start:
1. Calendar management
One way to let technology help is to just let it take charge of your schedule entirely. Calendar management-focused applications do the heavy lifting for you by presenting your schedule in easy-to-read designs that prevent your slate from getting overwhelming. A sloppy calendar makes it easier to lose track of your appointments and sabotage your schedule in the process.
A good calendar management app will do more than just keep track of your schedule — it will do the same for those around you. Dynamic calendar apps that allow users to share schedules makes planning meetings and lunches significantly easier and reduces time wasted on trying to find a slot that works. Getting technology to clean up your schedule requires you to find the right platform to host your schedule to begin with.
2. Time analysis
Though everyone has a general idea, it can be difficult to know exactly how much time you spend on different activities throughout the day. The average employee spends 28 percent of his time dealing with unwanted interruptions, yet it’s still nearly impossible to know exactly what can be done to eliminate those time drains. One of the best ways to make the most of your schedule is to break it down into its smallest pieces: How are you spending each individual minute of the day? Using software that analyzes how you spend your time is a necessary step toward balancing your schedule.
Some calendar apps have time analysis software built in, while other platforms are entirely dedicated to analytics alone. Once you’ve got a breakdown of your schedule, look for places of possible improvement: Is the amount of time you’re in meetings actually paying off? What about calls? Understanding how you spend your time now is key to spending it better down the line.
3. Dynamic meetings
Meetings are a staple of the American workplace, but their overly traditional format has some major downsides — business executives consider more than two-thirds of meetings to be complete failures. When people talk about meeting technology, they’re often referring to video conferencing technology, an important tool for any office looking to stay digitally connected. While connectivity tools are valuable for communicating with clients, contractors, and remote workers, they aren’t the only digital methods for improving your meetings.
Simple things like anonymous online polls can go a long way toward making workers’ voices feel heard during meetings. More in-depth tools like Trello’s Team Meetings Board serve the same purpose of ensuring that meetings are run from the bottom up, not the other way around. Dynamically run meetings ensure that all relevant topics are covered and that as little time is wasted as possible.
4. Small-scale automation
One of the biggest drains on time? The small, mundane tasks that define office life: checking emails, printing documents, editing, saving files, and so on. Many of these activities are unavoidable, so automating them is the only way to dump them from your schedule.
Office automation tools like Zapier or IFTTT specialize in eliminating the need to do the little things yourself. Creating simple programs that do oft-repeated, but mindless, tasks is integral to getting more important work done with your time. Cleaning up your schedule doesn’t just mean freeing up large blocks of time, but also maximizing the small moments.
5. Smart breaks
Taking breaks is key to keeping productivity up, yet one-third of American workers don’t even feel encouraged to take a lunch break. Research has found that employees are most productive when working in 90-minute intervals, taking breaks in between.
Plenty of apps focused on stress relief offer features that remind you when to take breaks and what to do during them. Taking several “proactive” breaks throughout the day by walking around, reading a book, or even meditating can significantly increase productivity once you’re done. By using breaks to make you more productive, you can get more work done — and work toward clearing out your calendar.
Technology is too valuable to just set aside, so it’s important to ensure you’re making tech work for you. Productivity apps can make a huge difference in your working day without too much hassle on your part. In 2019, a messy schedule is optional. The right tech can help clean it up.