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Calendar planning: Key to too many ASAPs

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in Office Management,Workplace Communication

Your morning is completely planned, with top priorities penned on your to-do list, when a boss derails everything with two additional, hefty tasks that he needs “ASAP.”

The trouble is everything needs to be done ASAP. Doesn’t he realize there’s only so much you can do?

Here’s a calendar-planning tactic that will let the boss know where you spend your time and help you better manage your time.

Start here in Outlook

1. Block out any meetings or appointments with fixed times. Put a 15-minute buffer on either side of each, to allow for preparation or travel time.

2. Pencil in the time you need to spend on each task or project. Example: Do you need an expense report done by Thursday morning? Block out 30 minutes on Wednesday.

“Your goal is to block out only 60% of your week, and leave 40% open so you have flexibility,” recommends author and coach Patricia Hutchings (

That’s where planning typically goes wrong, she says. We have no flexibility built into our schedule.

Tasks, colors, categories, alerts, flags, and more! Use all of Outlook's tools to maximize your calendar. Start Here.

3. Make your schedule public and visible. “That’s the only way people can understand and graph time,” Hutchings says. When your boss says, “I need you to do X, Y and Z,” you can refer to something tangible.

You can say, “I’d be happy to. Here’s my plan for the week. Which project can I move forward to do these instead?”

4. Include everything that you do to make it a true working tool.

“You’re going to blow their minds,” says Hutchings. “Bosses have no idea what you do, and they don’t necessarily need to. But sometimes you need to to demonstrate what you do visually. Some people think you’re just waiting for them to give you something to do.”

With our best-selling, colorful guide, you'll learn how to:
  • Organize files using colors, categories, alerts, emails and flags
  • Reduce typing with drag-and-drop techniques
book cover
  • Create notes so your workflow won’t be interrupted
  • Transfer those notes among contacts, e-mails and your calendar
  • Sort your mail within Outlook
  • Get the most out of your calendars
  • Set up the Tickler System, Project Tracking System and Work Distribution System to help keep you on track
  • And much more!

Everyone wants to work more efficiently. If there’s a faster, simpler way to get the job done, why wouldn’t you opt for it?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

The editors January 6, 2012 at 11:00 am

Diane, please visit this link for peer-to-peer advice for Lotus Notes users:


Diane January 3, 2012 at 10:42 am

What about people that are using Lotus Notes? Everything seems geared toward Outlook….


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