What’s the only tool I couldn’t live without? That’s a no-brainer. My calendar.
From my experience, the online calendar helps me succeed in all aspects of my life. My calendar keeps track of all appointments and deadlines. In turn, having this information at my fingertips has helped me earn a reputation as someone who is dependable and always honors their commitments.
Outside of work, my calendar helps me maintain a healthy work-life balance. Besides helping avoid getting burned-out, my calendar has helped me maintain important relationships. If I have family time scheduled — then I’m not going to accept a work-related meetings during that time.
But, the beneficial productivity has been possible because I not only live by my calendar, I’ve also made calendar civility and forward-thinking a priority. And, I’ve encouraged online calendar protocol by following the four strategies.
1. Use the right calendaring tools.
Have you ever wondered why we share things with others? Well, Jonah Berger, author of a study published in Psychological Science, says that it’s driven in part by arousal. In particular, it evokes positive and negative emotions.
“People’s behavior is heavily influenced by what others say and do,” explains Berger. “Whether you are a company trying to get people to talk more about your brand, or a public health organization trying to get people to spread your healthy eating message, these results provide insight into how to design more effective messages and communication strategies.”
Moreover, a New York Times report found that the five sharing motivations are:
- Bringing valuable and entertaining content to others
- Defining ourselves to others
- Growing and nourishing relationships
- Getting the word out about causes and brands
While this research focused on content, can this also be applied when sharing your calendar? Absolutely. In particular, when it comes to adding a title or description.
For example, maybe you meet a new lead or land a high-profile client. In order to follow-up or begin a project, you need to meet with your team. You quickly share your calendar containing a message sharing the good news, as well as where and when you’ll have a team meeting.
However, for communication to be effective — you’ll need the right tools. At the minimum, you need an online calendar that works across multiple platforms. Having tools that cross boundary’s means if you’re an Apple user, but everyone else on your squad uses Android, your Apple Calendar isn’t going to cut it. You’ve got to have something that integrates and plays well with others.
Use tools that integrate seamlessly with your calendar. For instance, Calendar syncs with Google, Outlook, and Apple calendars. Because of this, it can be used to quickly schedule meetings and organize teamwork — regardless of what calendar your team members are using.
2. Step-up your scheduling game.
If you want to encourage online calendar etiquette with others, then set an example by creating a user-friendly scheduling experience. And, you can achieve that lofty goal by:
- Responding to invites. No one wants to be left hanging — especially when it comes to protecting their valuable. As such, always respond to calendar invites in a timely manner.
- Include the location. Whenever scheduling a meeting or location, don’t forget to include the location. It makes life easier for the other party — even if it’s a VA or secretary. If it’s a physical location, you should also include a map so that it prevents tardiness. For virtual events, make sure to attach the phone number or meeting ID.
- Compose a descriptive title. You don’t need to overstuff the title. But, you shouldn’t be vague either. After all, titling the event only as “Meeting” says nothing. However, “Meeting With Jane to Discuss Dinner Party” lets the attendees know exactly what to expect.
- Add notes in the description. Just like with titles, you don’t need to go overboard here. But, you should include relevance notes and attachments, like the agenda. Why? It will give the invitees the opportunity to prepare.
And, most importantly, don’t schedule back-to-back events. You need to have buffers in-between events. When you do, participants have a chance to wind down, recharge, and prepare for the next event.
3. It’s okay to say “no.”
I’m going to blunt. Just because you received a calendar invite doesn’t mean you have to accept it. In fact, there are plenty of times when you have to say “no.”
One example would be a meeting request when the topic could be addressed over email. Another would be a meeting that takes place when you’re “off-the-clock.” And, yet another would be if the request doesn’t serve a purpose or has little-to-no value.
Of course, you don’t want to be a brute either. Instead, if you opt to decline an invite, by honest and polite. I mean how would you feel if someone rejected your meeting invite with a reply like, “No way! Stop wasting my time!”? I’m sure that would make you feel crummy.
With that in mind, pay the same respect to others. If your calendar is already full, let them know that. You may also suggest an alternative meeting date or a quick phone call instead. The easiest solution though would be sharing your calendar so that they can see when you are available.
4. Live by the golden rule.
I’m sure that you’re aware of the old adage “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” More simply known as the “golden rule,” it means treating others with fairness and respect.
“There is a lot of good, if emerging, scientific work suggesting people have an innate sense of fairness built into them and that the golden rule captures much of that innate moral sense,” says Kristen Monroe, director of the University of California Irvine Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality. “A lot of people instinctively follow it.”
“I don’t like to be kept waiting, so I try not to be late,” adds Monroe. “I don’t like to be lied to or deceived so I try not to do it, even if it might be more convenient to be just a few minutes late or tell a white lie occasionally.”
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, there are simple ways to follow this rule when sharing your calendar.
- Show-up on time. If a meeting starts at 1 PM, then you must be their on-time. To ensure this happens, set a reminder in your calendar. I would also avoid scheduling before the event either in case it goes over the allotted time.
- Don’t make last-minute changes. Things happen. That’s just life. But, unless it’s a life or death situation, never make a last-minute change. If you must cancel or reschedule a calendar entry, give some sort of notice in advance.
- Don’t micromanage. Why use a calendar if you remind attendees every day that there’s a meeting or deadline due next week? There’s nothing wrong with checking-in or sending the occasional gentle follow-up. But, don’t be a nuisance.
What if someone won’t respect your calendar? While frustrating, try to be empathetic. A great reply if someone bows out of an appointment is, “Hey, we’ve all been there — no hard feelings.” A kind reply will help the other person play their best game and you’ll be on top of yours.
If skipping meetings is a frequent problem with this person — then you can adjust your strategy. If it’s a teammates, try to help them diagnose the problem so that it doesn’t keep happening. Someone else, you need not prioritize your schedule with them.