Each day, the average worker is productive for 60% or less across all professions. However, the percentage drops dramatically for office workers. During the average workday, office workers are only productive for two hours and 23 minutes, according to Voucher Cloud research.
Another way to put that is that office workers are generally unproductive for five hours and 37 minutes each day during an eight-hour workday.
Yeah. It is not only a waste of valuable time, but it is also a financial burden. As a matter of fact, Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report estimates that employees who are either unengaged or actively disengaged cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity. In terms of global GDP, that’s 11%.
How can engagement and results be boosted? Although manual methods, such as surveys and meetings, can be a good starting point, productivity apps can be much more effective.
What is a Productivity App?
Simply put, apps that improve productivity help individuals and teams to be more efficient.
These apps are generally designed to:
- Track time. The time spent on a specific task can be tracked by both employees and managers. Using this overview, employees can track their own work rate and improve it, while managers can ensure work is submitted on time.
- Plan projects. Users can schedule projects, assign tasks, and get a quick overview of progress using productivity apps. By automating and integrating, you will also be able to manage projects more efficiently and keep all your data in a single location.
- Streamline communication. By using a single tool for all work communications, you can avoid endless email correspondence.
- Receive notifications and reminders. With productivity apps that alert you when a deadline is near or has passed, you’ll never miss another deadline again. There are several notification settings that users can customize. It may only take one notification to get some users motivated to finish tasks, while others might need multiple notifications to motivate them.
Is it me? Or do calendar apps meet the above criteria?
Calendar apps, in my opinion, are the best productivity apps. But, if you don’t believe me, then let’s take a closer look at the impact of calendar apps on productivity.
How Calendar Apps Impact Productivity
1. Creates structure.
Routines help us live a more satisfying and productive life. Moreover, routines and schedules are also evidence-based methods of enhancing psychological well-being. A routine can improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and boost cognitive function, as well as boost mental health.
This is exactly what a calendar provides us with. Here are some examples:
- Create a morning ritual. Getting up early and starting your day right requires a morning routine. Your morning ritual can include exercising, clearing your inbox, reading, and planning.
- In the morning, frogs taste best. Obviously, this isn’t literal. As it turns out, completing your “frog” is your most important task for today. According to studies, you are most alert and concentrated two hours after waking up. It is for this reason that your morning should be dedicated to tackling your highest priority.
- Do soft tasks and exercise in the afternoons. We lose energy as the day goes on. Rather than doing mentally demanding tasks in the afternoon, you should engage in physical activities, meet with colleagues, and organize your emails.
- While you are commuting, consider brainstorming. It is likely that you will be exhausted at the end of the day. You can still come up with great new ideas, as your brain makes fewer connections.
- Spend your evenings relaxing. After dinner, relax and recharge for a productive day. Walking, reading, writing, meditating, and checking your calendar can be some of the things you can do during the evening.
Using your calendar, you can also schedule breaks and fun activities to relax.
2. Improves your time management.
I have a clear picture of my week ahead thanks to my calendar, which I check every Monday morning. It’s where I track my meetings, breaks, appointments, and everything else. So, it’s no wonder why I, and most productive people, live by my calendar.
You’re more likely to stick to your schedule when you block out time in your day for certain tasks rather than just listing them down. Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time which is available for its completion.” Therefore, a seemingly simple task can take most of your day. In no time, you’ve fallen behind.
As a result, you create a vicious cycle where you never feel on top of your work since you try to squeeze more tasks into an already busy day. It is also possible that you will have to stay late and work overtime in order to finish all your work. Consequently, you have less time to relax or spend with friends and family after work.
Regardless, this is a lose-lose situation. The Parkinson’s Law pitfalls can be avoided by blocking out your calendar and setting aside specific amounts of time for each task. By working within that timeframe, you’ll be more inclined to focus and finish the task within that timeframe before moving on to the next one. In less time, you’ll accomplish more. Do not worry about working late or feeling guilty about the tasks you haven’t completed.
In order to master this system, you must plan your entire week in advance. Whether it’s an hour on a Friday afternoon or a Sunday evening, make it a regular part of your routine.
3. Makes it easier to prioritize.
“Your priorities might not receive as much attention as you think, even with defined goals. Thankfully, you can take a self-audit to find out,” Deanna Ritchie writes in a previous Calendar article.
A week’s worth of work is worth keeping a record of the tasks you completed and the time you spent on each. However, productivity apps, like Calendar, can also be used to automate tracking thanks to analytics. “To accomplish your goals, you must identify the specific distractions that keep you from achieving them,” Deanna adds.
“Then you can prioritize your activities to avoid devoting too much time to a task of low priority or neglecting a high priority,” she continues. “By prioritizing your tasks, you may be able to complete them correctly and efficiently.” Consider both the task’s difficulty and the speed you wish to complete it.
“You can also visualize the importance of your responsibilities by assigning different colors to high, moderate, and low-priority rankings,” Deanna states. “Your responsibilities can be prioritized according to your schedule by reviewing your calendar.”
4. Create a schedule based on your performance for the day.
In the early 1900s, Henry Ford introduced the five-day, forty-hour week. In the 100 years since then, there have been many changes in the business world. However, the 9-5 shift remains the status quo.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, manager, or employee with a flexible schedule, it’s recommended that you understand your natural energy flows. The reason? Your full potential can only be realized if you do this every day.
Consider these questions as a starting point:
As a result of these insights, you will discover patterns and tricks that will help you optimize your day to the fullest extent possible. Apply these insights to your calendar.
5. The ability to set strategic alerts and reminders.
You can be more productive and remember the most important things by setting strategic alerts and reminders. Among the examples would be;
- Defining the beginning and ending times of a time block
- Reminders for breaks
- Meditation, exercise, and journaling times
- Creating buffers between meetings
- On Sunday night, we’re planning the upcoming week
What’s even better? This information will be sent directly to your phone through alerts and notifications. You will receive them no matter where you are, so you won’t miss them.
An example would be the video call I had on Thursday. As I was returning from a dentist appointment, I almost forgot. Thanks to the reminder, I arrived back with plenty of time to make the call.
6. Simplifies recurring events.
Again, in order to avoid forgetting important dates and information, reminders are essential. Having meetings that repeat themselves, however, can get messy, writes Max Palmer in a previous Calendar article. “With calendar software, you can set up a recurring appointment with ease,” he adds.
7. Increases productivity and communication with others.
Suppose, for instance, you neglect a duty you have to a customer. It might also negatively affect the reputation of your business. Further, it can influence your hiring and retaining of employees. After all, who wants to work for a company that fails to meet deadlines and cancels meetings?
When it comes to scheduling meetings and allocating responsibilities, sharing a calendar helps everyone stay on the same page. Moreover, the calendar is updated instantly as changes are made. Consequently, miscommunications or back and forth are eliminated.
In general, managers and colleagues can keep track of meetings, assignments, events, and business lunches and dinners with the help of a company-shared calendar.
Moreover, if you’re a solopreneur, a calendar can help keep your workload manageable, as well as regularly meet with clients. And you can also have a shared calendar to keep your personal life intact, such as reminders for birthdays or your kid’s extracurricular activities.
8. Avoids context switching.
When we switch from one task to another, we are context shifting or context switching. Moving from one task to other leads to a change in our brains.
Even though we work on the computer these days, context switching tends to sneak up on us if we switch from one project to another and back-to-back meetings.
Why’s that problem?
After a distraction, it usually takes 23 minutes for your brain to regain focus. The reason? When you switch between tasks, different parts of your brain are activated, even if you are updating a report while answering a teammate’s question.
Additionally, research shows that context switching decreases productivity by 40% compared to not context switching. There is also evidence that regular multitasking negatively impacts working memory, as evidenced by statistically significant declines among multitaskers who switch between different contexts frequently. You can also lose your energy faster by switching from one task to another.
But — your trusty calendar can help you avoid context in the following ways:
- Optimize your focus time. People are most focused when they work 52 minutes straight and take a 17-minute break. In order for our brains to function properly, we work in hour-long spurts and then rest for about 20 minutes afterward. So, you can use your calendar to establish blocks of focus time, as well as breaks to recharge.
- Take real breaks. Speaking of breaks, make sure you make them count. Ideally, you should step away from your computer and then stretch, go for a walk, or eat a nutritious meal.
- Organize your to-do list strategically. There is nothing more stressful than zipping from one task to another. Instead, make transitioning to new projects easier by grouping similar tasks and tackling them in succession. For instance, blocking out specific times to check your inbox.
9. Make the most of your weekends.
It’s also natural to feel anxious and depressed when your life is missing some of the things that you enjoy. Therefore, you need to make sure they are on the schedule. Mental health can be improved by planning an enjoyable weekend filled with rewarding activities. In addition, it will prevent you from wasting time — unless you schedule a two-hour scrolling session through Instagram.
By simply deciding what you will do — and sticking to it — you will naturally increase happiness and productivity, while reducing stress. It is rare that setting a goal will actually change your behavior, but scheduling actions that will move you toward that goal will. A well-planned calendar can help you reach your long-term goals by establishing the practical steps necessary to reach them.
10. Makes you more accountable.
Calendars can help you keep track of every single minute and hour of your day, just like receipts help accountants keep track of business expenses. You might have wondered, “What did I accomplish today?” But this is no longer a concern. At any given time, you can look at your calendar and see what you were working on.
What is the significance of this?
If you want to make the most of your day to reach your goals, reviewing your calendar can provide you with valuable information about what could–or should–be changed. Consider these questions:
- Which strategies worked and which did not?
- Is there anything you can do next week to improve your day-to-day organization?
- Did you spend your time and energy wisely on those tasks?
In a perfect workplace, you would be spending most of your time on tasks that contribute to growth and profitability. Consider deleting or delegating the less critical tasks on your calendar if you notice they dominate your schedule.
Image Credit: PhotoMIX Company; Pexels; Thank you!
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