Setting up your office Google Calendar the right way
If you want to be in control of your time so that you can deliver impact in your workplace, this is a post for you.
This is for folks who complain that there are too many meetings and no time to get any work done. This is also applicable to freshers who don’t know much about using calendars at work.
Office calendars (google cal, Outlook calendar etc) are primarily used to let your colleagues know when you are available for work/meetings. More importantly, calendars are good way to take control of your time. The reason you need to take control of your time is that if you do not, then others will control your time. Before you know it, your day is fragmented with meetings leaving you unproductive and demotivated.
These three things will help you get some control over your calendar.
Time for work - office hours
It is important to define your office hours, so that you and your colleagues will know what is the time range within which you are available. Depending on the company policies, you might be expected to work between 8-10 hours per day. Make sure your calendar reflects that, so that when colleagues want to pull you in for a meeting they will clearly know if that is outside or within your work hours. The way to set this in Google Calendar is settings > general > working hours & location.
Time for yourself and other family needs
Now that you blocked your work hours, it is not necessary that you will work the entire 8 hours at a stretch. You might need breaks. I take breaks for breakfast, lunch and school pickup. I do account for this in my work hours, i.e my work timing is 8a - 6p but I take these breaks in the middle, that makes my effective work hours to be 8 hrs. The reason to add these to the calendar is to make sure that colleagues are aware when you are available for meetings/work-chat. It avoids those awkward moments when they call you and you have to say “I’m at my daughter’s school to pick her up, please don’t mind the noise” etc… these lead to mistrust if you don’t put it in the calendar. Always set the expectations right. An example of how the calendar might look after you do this.
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Time to do your work
You’ve played defense protecting yourself from burnout, great! Now it is time to play offense, proactively blocking time to do your work. This is where a lot of people miss out. They block the times when they are not available for meeting due to commitments such as doctor’s appointment or lunch, but they miss to block time to do the work that they are supposed to do. I block this as ‘Focus time’ or ‘deep work’ time. Usually, it is good to have a large chunk of time to get impactful deep work. I block 2 chunks of 1.5 hours each every day. That gives me a good 3 hours every day to do my work. The rest of the day I am ok to participate in meetings or do QA.
Since this is the largest chunk of time you are booking for yourself, you might have to work around other routine meetings such as standup or other team rituals. There might be seasons when you might be required in a lot of meetings (may be you have reportees), then you can cut down on your deep work time, so that you are available to your team.
Be flexible. There will be some meetings where you are required, maybe during your lunch time. As long as this is a one-off meeting, you should oblige, after all it is hard to get everyone’s time at the same time.
You may not get the schedule right the first time, if your schedule doesn’t seem to work for you, change it around couple of times and land on something that works for you.
I would love you hear some of your personal calendar setup tips.
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