Quit Slaving Away—Master Some New Technology!

This is a copy of a blog I keep on BigLife.

Part 1 of at least a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!

After listening to Victory’s interview of Melissa this morning, I was inspired to do some blogging in here to share some of the tools I’ve used to turbo-charge my own life.

You know, to be honest, I haven’t been doing coaching in the strict sense of the word in several years, although I do lots of informal coaching of folks. And I’ll tell you why I do it: with anyone I have in my life personally or professionally of any significance, I want them to share some of the systems I use so that I/we don’t have to muck around on mundane tasks, and can instead get on with spending time together! Since I’m a geek who enjoys camping out on the leading edge of software products, I can sometimes push right past people’s comfort zones with technology. I’ve since learned to tone it down and get more buy in. Anyway–enough about me; you are likely more interested in the technology.

Are you the Master of the Slave?

Right now I have at least 10 ideas of things you may or may not use already, but I’d be willing to bet you don’t use most of these things! How would you like to turbo-charge your life in these areas?

  • Do you waste time scheduling with the people close to you, or do the back and forth of setting meetings with clients or associates?
  • Would you like greater mastery of all of the valuable information that you are flooded with on a daily basis? Do you ever waste time looking for that one email from that one guy about that one thing?
  • Do you have a great EASY way to organize and clean up pictures?
  • Are you a blog master? Have you dabbled? Do you not know what I’m talking about?
  • Do you have a lot of documentation (fancy word for information, procedures or instructions) that you’d like to keep organized for your own use and perhaps share with others?
  • Would you like to have a greater number of quick, easy, “soft” connections with people, that allow you to know what’s up in their lives without spending a lot of time?
  • How much time to you spend on the administration of your life when you’d rather be spending it on living your life!

How about we work together to minimize some of that could-be-better-spent time, eh?

Stop spending time scheduling—Use Google Calendar!

I’m sure you already have a calendar of some kind, be it paper or Outlook or something else, and your first response to my suggestion to add yet another makes your stomach hurt.

It’ll be ok—stay tuned.

When I was first getting serious with my boyfriend Josh, we were having one helluva time finding time to spend together because we’re both pretty busy people. I’d always used Outlook and he’d always used Yahoo! for his calendar. Well, I’d just begun playing with Google Calendar, and I had a great idea.

You see, Google allows you to create multiple calendars for yourself, and SHARE them with others! And you select the access you want others to have: see only free/busy information, see full schedule, make changes to your schedule, manage sharing of your schedule. See my public calendar (new window).

Considering what I mentioned above about pushing people too hard with technology, I suggested we try it. It was a smashing success from Minute 1. Here’s a typical screenshot of a week in my calendar:

(I’ve” shrunk the image to protect privacy.)

The gold is my personal schedule. Blue is Josh’s. Brown is time scheduled for ME, sleep and work. Me, sleep and work—are you kidding? Nope. If you don’t schedule EVERYTHING then visually it seems like you have a lot of free time that you don’t actually have, because you have to sleep! I also schedule two ME! nights each week, which are nights that I DO NOT allow myself to work. I can do laundry or read a book or see Josh, but it’s time I invest on me. I hope I don’t have to say how valuable that is here… I can also move them around in the week as much as I want, but they have to stay on that week!

Josh and I simply check out our shared calendar when getting an invite from friends, send the other an appointment, and when accepted, accept the friend’s invite! Or we plan the time we will spend together, etc. It’s been a real godsend.

The green in the upper right marks Memorial Day Weekend. Now look at the list at the left, which is of calendars that I keep with other organizations. I can’t tell you HOW USEFUL this is! Others who are involved in the same organization can have these listed on their calendars, and life gets a whole lot easier!

You can also send invitations for any event, and if you use Gmail, all of your contacts are already available (you can also import them).

I keep calendars for: a monthly dinner group of friends, instructors at the Center for Creative Learning, the public calendar for the Center, the Detroit instructing calendar, my half-marathon training schedule (big success!), a public calendar (where others can see my important travel, etc.), and a monthly video group I like to attend.

Don’t want to give up your calendar? You don’t have to!

Google has a program that will automatically synch many calendars directly with the Google Calendar: either your calendar or Google’s can “win”, or it will synch both ways. Problem solved!
Don’t feel like there’s a need to keep as many calendars as me—if you keep just one and use some of the techniques I’ve mentioned, you’re way ahead of the game!

Your Next Steps

In each of these columns I will give you some suggested action. If you don’t take action on new information soon after learning it, it’s as good as gone.

  • Read about Getting Started with Google Calendar
  • Do you use Google Calendar? Please leave a comment below on a great trick you have, or just share how you enjoy it!
  • Have you tried it and gotten stuck? Leave a question below and I’ll answer it in an up-coming entry.
  • Do you have a technology tip that would be good for this blog? Please share it below or email me directly.

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