This Article first shown on Entrepreneur.com.
Click Here to read full Article
Your digital calendar can work harder for you, thanks to new technological advancements. In a previous life, you may have been satisfied with a separate app for your email and a separate app for your calendar. But jumping from one application to another is an inefficient waste of time.
This is just one feature that today’s leading digital platforms, including Google Calendar, Calendar.com, and Microsoft Outlook, are addressing. Other features in 2023 ranged from facilitating easier meeting scheduling to enhancing the client booking experience. These smart features can help you achieve your productivity goals in 2024. Read on for five calendar hacks to start implementing today.
1. Streamline One-on-One Scheduling
Finding time to meet with another person should be easy, but conflicting schedules often make it challenging to find an available slot. In July 2023, Google Calendar improved its scheduling capabilities with the “Offer Times” option. This new feature only supports one-on-one meetings and is available to everyone who uses Gmail and Google Calendar. It eliminates the need to toggle back and forth between your draft email and your Calendar view.
Fill in the appointment or event details as usual to unlock this feature. Navigate to the side panel and select one or multiple available blocks in your schedule. Select ‘add to email’ so your available blocks display to the recipient. Once the email is sent, the requested recipient can select a time that works for them with a simple click.
2. Schedule Team Meetings in Seconds
If scheduling team meetings is causing headaches, then Calendar.com may have the solution for you. This scheduling software recognizes that sending back-and-forth emails to find a time to meet with everyone is unproductive. These emails waste everyone’s time, often leading to frustration and annoyance.
Recently, Calendar.com rolled out new software technology that allows you to schedule team meetings quickly. Add the invite request and the designated colleagues you want to meet with. From here, you’ll automatically see when everyone is available and can create the invite for the time that will work with everyone’s schedules.
Calendar.com’s goal is to reduce the number of digital calendars you’re constantly flipping between. Therefore, when you’re booking a meeting with multiple individuals, you know that their calendars are truly accurate and up-to-date. And coming soon, Calendar.com will release Calendar Analytics for Teams and Advanced Team Analytics.
3. Set and Customize Working Locations
In today’s hybrid world, you may not be working in the same location every day. You may have designated days that you’re working from home and other days in the office. If you meet with clients regularly, there may be sections in the day where you won’t have a home base. You may hop between coffee shops as you travel from one client to the next. Thanks to a new update in Google Calendar, you can now set and customize working locations for various places throughout your day.
Before this recent update, you could only select one work location per day. Now, your colleagues can see exactly where you will be at different points in your day. On the Google Calendar web browser, go to ‘create’ and then ‘working location.’ From here, you can select a default location — your primary working spot, such as an office or home.
Use the ‘add time’ button to set designated times when you plan to work in this location. For instance, you may work from home from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. but then commute to a client meeting in the afternoon. Locations can also overlap, which is particularly helpful for work travel. You can designate that you’re in the New York City office location and add parameters to your working hours at the office.
4. Enhanced Viewing Options
In September 2023, Microsoft began rolling out the New Outlook for Windows. The sleek, user-friendly interface is designed to coordinate numerous email accounts easily in one easy-to-navigate place. The New Outlook allows any IMAP email server, including Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, and Hotmail.com, to be integrated with Microsoft.
A primary benefit of the New Outlook for Windows is the ability to add events to your calendar directly from your email. This can come in handy when booking restaurant reservations, traveling, or scheduling a doctor’s appointment. You won’t have to manually add the information to your calendar. These events can be marked as “private,” so your colleagues can’t see why you are booked.
Another new feature is the Board view, allowing you to see multiple calendars simultaneously from Microsoft Teams, Planner, and SharePoint. You can also view To-Do tasks, contacts, and sticky notes. Again, this means you won’t have to constantly toggle back and forth between different Microsoft screens and your Outlook Calendar view page.
5. Require Payment for Client Bookings
If your business requires appointment bookings, then this tip is for you. Google Calendar is now integrated with Stripe, a payment processing system that can handle all of your client payment needs. With this integration, you can now require clients to pay in advance when scheduling their appointments in Google Calendar. This will help mitigate last-minute cancellations and simplify payments for you and your clients.
This feature requires you to connect a Stripe account to Google Calendar. To do so, click on “settings” followed by “general” and “appointment schedules.” Click on “connect to Stripe” and follow the instructions on Stripe’s website to complete the process.
Then, you can manage your payments and cancellation policy directly in your Google Calendar. Navigate to either create or edit an appointment schedule. Open up the ‘payments & cancellation policy’ window and ensure ‘require payment when booking’ is checked off. Enter the amount required for the appointment in your desired currency. You can also add your cancellation policy so individuals know what they will be charged for a canceled appointment. Click ‘save’ and exit the screen to complete the appointment booking process.
Implementing these calendar hacks will help you stay on task, but being more productive requires some initiative on your end. If you get distracted throughout the day, you may consider time blocking. This time management system divides your day into specific tasks for designated time chunks. Once the time is over, you move on to the next task, no matter if you’ve finished the prior one.
Color coding your calendar will allow you to better visualize where you spend most of your working hours. With this gathered information, you may be able to reassign tasks or reprioritize what needs to get done. Mapping out your calendar with regularly scheduled appointments is another option. This helps you maximize your time while also considering your personal life, such as vacation days and your favorite workout classes.
No matter your calendar platform of choice, there are ways to optimize and improve how you are managing your time. The bottom line? With the right calendar tools in place, you can get more done in less time. Ultimately, that can lead to feeling more accomplished at the end of 2024.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels
The post 5 Calendar Hacks for Optimized Productivity in 2024 appeared first on Calendar.