How to keep your productivity new year’s resolution

Given that “getting organized” ranks as the second most-searched resolution (with over 33 million searches), productivity and personal efficiency is clearly on a lot of people’s minds around this time of year.

However, since we’re in the second week of January, we’re statistically ⅓ of the way to the date when 80% of resolutions fail. That’s not an encouraging number! So how does one go about keeping their productivity new year’s resolution?

Don’t fret. If you’re looking to be more organized, automation can be a major part of keeping your 2019 resolutions through 2020 and beyond. The place to start… where else? Your calendar. Organize the place where you schedule your entire life, and everything else will fall into place.

Better Calendar Hygiene

There’s a certain romantic quality to using a paper planner, but if you’re looking to keep your personal and team productivity goals on track, the numbers say ditch the pen and pad. Especially if your business books appointments, converting to online scheduling reduces no shows by a staggering 80%.

Even if your business is dominated more by internal and external meetings than appointments, double bookings and an overstuffed calendar are easy patterns to fall into, ones that make life feel overwhelming and hectic. Take it from this anecdote from an Atlantic interview with Brigid Schulte, the author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

That’s when it hit me—how we sometimes create busyness in order to conform to this social ideal, that to be worthy is to be busy. I don’t say this to blame people. I do it, too. But the only way to change it, if we don’t like it, is to first be aware of it, be aware of our that urge to conform, to be worthy, to be enough, drives us sometimes unconsciously.” – Author Brigid Schulte

Sound familiar? That’s little surprise, given a 2017 CNBC report that found 70% of the workforce would rate their stress a 3 or higher on a scale of 1-5 on any given weekday. More troubling, 60% said they felt stressed 3 or more workdays during the week.

This feeling can be assuaged with better calendar hygiene. When we fill out our calendars on the fly, we’re more susceptible to double or triple booking, and over exerting ourselves. What’s worse, we often fall into the psychological trap that Schulte describes, filling up blocks of free time out of a misplaced sense of guilt.

One of our most essential features at x.ai is the level of personalization and control a user has over their calendar, a hub we call my.x.ai. By setting their calendar preferences as soon as they start a free trial, users are taking a more objective, rational approach to building their idealized workweek.

Want to reserve Tuesday mornings for writing? First thing on Wednesday for responding to emails? Friday afternoons to monitoring and managing team morale each week? Block off those times and our scheduling software safeguards those slots for you, so you can keep meetings to times when they won’t stress you out or pull you away from other important work.

You’ll experience a more healthy balance in your calendar hygiene, one that pays huge dividends to maximizing your efficiency. You’ll establish more consistent pacing in your workflow on an ongoing basis, without having to arduously try to manually replicate one each week.

Saving Time

The other major factor to upholding your productivity goals is figuring out what tasks are consistently wasting precious time. Sometimes small adjustments can go a long way to winning you back more free time.

Consider this. According to our internal study, the average professional email takes about 5 minutes to set up, draft, edit, and send. Setting up meetings with a traditional back-and-forth requires 8 emails. That’s 40 minutes you and your colleague have burned to get one measly meeting on the calendar. If you initiate ten meetings a week that’s over 6.5 hours devoted to calendar management.

Those kinds of tasks are insidious micro-stressors, vacuuming up minutes throughout your day until 5:00 rolls around and you haven’t made a dent in your to-do list. That’s when work charges into the homefront, further muddling your organization and ability to function productively in separate facets of your life.

In marketing and advertising —an industry built on tons of internal and external meetings— 86.7% of workers bring work home from the office, tallying up an extra 6.3 hours a week invested in tying up loose ends. Yuck. They’re far from the only industry affected, with education, finance, information services, and tech rounding out the top 5.

While introducing AI for rote tasks may feel like comparatively small potatoes compared to the rest of your workload, accumulating those time savings over a month can lead to some serious returns across a whole company, especially if you’re in a role with a high volume of meetings.

More Impactful Professional Networking

One of the primary victims of poor calendar hygiene and wasted hours is missed networking opportunities. When you’re in the throes of a busy week, what’s the first thing that gets rescheduled? Coffees and lunches with your contacts.

These more informal meetings may seem inessential, but they can be enormously impactful to your professional development. Informal meetings provide chances for major opportunities to surface, and the more you reschedule them, the less enthusiasm you’re signalling to your meeting guest.

With our AI scheduling assistants Amy + Andrew, you can easily set up coffees, lunches, or drinks with your contacts in an informal manner, i.e. instructing your assistant to “find a time that works next week.” If you’ve set a preferred location and included travel time, these types of meetings won’t feel like something you’re “squeezing in,” as Amy or Andrew will only suggest times that work best for you to your guest, within your preset scheduling constraints.

Don’t be part of the 80% of failed resolutions. If you’re serious about sticking with your productivity resolutions through all of 2019, do your calendar a favor and start a free trial of x.ai’s scheduling software today (better still, pass it along to someone else who could use it, we offer a $10 Amazon gift card for referrals).

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