How to maximise use of your electronic calendar

15th May, 2017

Our calendar is an excellent tool for organisation and planning, not just for scheduling meetings. It can help you to create a routine by setting reminders for specific activities and priority tasks such as returning phone calls, responding to emails, writing reports, approving invoices, etc. Some other benefits are

  • the ability to share your calendar
  • leaders can understand their team’s workload and support planning needs for future projects
  • transparency across teams
  • meeting times and required resources can be found, arranged and confirmed easily
  • avoidance of ‘double booking’
  • reminder alerts can be set in advance of meetings or events
  • viewing can be by day, week, month or year and it can be retained for years
  • remote access from almost any portable device (no excuses for not using it)
  • you can track someone down urgently (imperative if WHS safety issues arise).

When a calendar invitation is sent to someone, whether it is for business or social reasons, only to get no response, this shows a clear lack of interest and manners. Regardless of whether you are a frequent calendar user, it takes just one click to respond and let others know that you have acknowledged the invitation and no follow up action is required.

Occasionally I receive invitations with titles like “Lunch” or “Meet with XXX“. While it may be fine for the other person to use vague language or titles that apply to their context, it reduces the usability of my calendar.

When you send calendar invitations, try to think of how it will look to the other person. If I book a lunch meeting, I will use a title like “Ian/Jonathan lunch meeting to discuss development proposal.” Both parties can quickly look at their calendars and determine exactly what the meeting is about.

Along with titles, it is also important to include detailed location information in calendar events. If you include the complete address of locations in calendar invitations then attendees can just click on the event in their phones to activate the mapping feature. It’s also a good idea to attach to the invitation any relevant notes and/or the agenda. This saves time and potential frustration.

If it is a virtual meeting or a call, include exactly who is calling who and what the number is. For example, “Ian will call Mark on 0123 456 789“. This clearly specifies what is going to happen.

Good calendar etiquette

  • look at your calendar regularly and be aware of all scheduling one week in advance
  • if you are not a frequent calendar user, make it a habit of looking at your calendar every day and scheduling alerts in advance (your leader may have scheduled an impromptu meeting!)
  • always respond to meeting, task or event requests promptly by either Accepting, Declining, Proposing a New Time or Accepting a Tentative Time. There are no excuses for not replying!
  • always book travel time around meetings that are some distance away
  • always keep your calendar updated with holiday dates and times when you may not be free for meetings (use the private function if required)
  • if you have a meeting scheduled, please ensure you are prepared and ready to start on time
  • be sure to place notes, agenda items, documents, conference call details, and anything else that adds context to the event. The more information the better. This helps attendees prepare for meetings more effectively
  • if you are unsure about the nature of the calendar request, go and talk to the person who sent it (please don’t ignore it and wait for them to follow you up).

While these guidelines might seem picky and detailed, they can go a long way toward reducing friction and extra work for others. Remember that it is your responsibility to manage your calendar effectively. It is a wonderful planning tool so please use it!