Path: Capabilities: Individual: Productivity: Calendar
Friday, 08 September 2017
15 Processes For Organizing Your Calendar
Insofar as they are specialized, these are impressive solutions. But the problem with all specialized things is that they lack the context and the versatility to match your custom requirements. The cost of adding yet another solution often exceeds the value.
Suppose you have special dietary preferences. Wouldn’t you like your scheduling assistant to check with restaurants, caterers and other hosts to make sure that you’ll be okay?
What if your schedule involves a lot of complex Travel arrangements? You don’t want to have to go back and forth between, say, Palo Alto and San Francisco unnecessarily. If your flight to Hong Kong is delayed, you don’t want to be in the air fretting about whether your hosts have been informed, your meetings have been rescheduled, etcetera.
What if your preferences involve contextual heuristics beyond the calendar?The preference: “Schedule sales meetings on Thursdays and fundraising meetings on Fridays.” Without access to your Sales Funnel and Fundraising Funnel, other assistants can’t support this preference. But Invisible can.
How about this one: “For hiring decision meetings, use the Solaris room.” Your S.I. can handle that too. But other assistants can’t. Deviate even slightly from their rigid architecture, and they break very easily.
You can set preferences for all kinds of things.
Requesting Agendas from counter-parties for all meetings. Asking for preparation expectations in advance. Dynamic buffers to make sure you have enough time to complete tasks required for each meeting. Allocating time to match your Priorities. Batching events two days a week, so that you can spend the rest of your week focused. Checking with hosts to see if you will have WiFi or cellular reception on locations.
Next level shit, huh? Yeah, it’s called synthetic intelligence. It takes your A.I. to school.
Your S.I. will set aside Task Blocks to make sure you have time to make progress on all of your priorities. You can request blocks for anything: for exercise, for family time, for reading time, for creativite exploration.
To make sure you are prepared for your block, you can request your S.I. to include task instructions and links to any relevant files and communications. That way you don’t waste time looking for what you need to solve the problem. You’ve got everything waiting for you, without any risk of distraction.
For example, before every meeting, you can request a preparation block. Your S.I. will include all relevant context on the contacts and agenda of the meeting.
If scheduling and preferences are too rigid, you can’t respond dynamically to new priorities and opportunities as they arise. Even though other assistants can make changes quickly, you have to specify in great detail exactly how you want to re-arrange things. But with rich context from your Contacts, Tasks, Communications and other parts of your digital brain, your S.I. can make prioritization judgements with less input from you.
Your S.I. can schedule calls for you.
Because your S.I. has access to your contacts, unlike other scheduling assistants, it will not do stupid things, like ask for your girlfriend’s phone number. We ask for contact details only when they are missing.
For international calls, your S.I. will take time zones into account, and make sure the dial-in instructions to your conference line include international or VOIP options.
By default, your S.I. will include a link to the communication thread that precipitated scheduling for context.
If your preferences request an Agenda for every call or meeting, your S.I. will also make sure a link is included.
5. Call Lists
Nobody uses Call Lists anymore, but they are an incredibly powerful and simple tool. Suppose you have an hour in an Uber between meetings. Your S.I. can provide you with your Call List — names of friends, family and contacts that you’ve been meaning to ring.
In our age of scheduling, the most important things to schedule are unscheduled. Like calls. There is power in making a call out of the blue. No gatekeepers, no agenda, no expectations. So as you think of people you’d like to catch up with or reach out to, add them to your call list.
For in-person meetings that require travel, your S.I. will make sure that there is a sufficient time buffer and transportation instructions are included.
For in-person meetings where guests are visiting you, your S.I. will make sure that they have the buffer and transportation instructions they need.
Your S.I. will ask you if you have any hospitality preferences for your guests. For example, if you’d like to organize catering for a lunch.
7. Suggested Meetings
As you change locations, you may find yourself unexpectedly in the vicinity of some of your other contacts, with time to kill. Suppose you’re flying to New York City for an important meeting on Friday morning, then you have the rest of Friday and all of Saturday and Sunday unscheduled.
Your S.I. can use rich-context to suggest meetings for you. Then your S.I. can reach out to your friends on your behalf to see if they are free, and to suggest places to meet. Serendipity is technology at its best.
8. Suggested Events
Monitoring your communications, Facebook and other data sources — your S.I. can be your radar for interesting events. You may not normally invite the distraction of an event, but if one is happening right after, right next to, your meeting — sure!
You don’t want to be spending your time updating some tracker based on your calendar data. Suppose you’re on an operations team, and your manager wants to know how much time you spent on various projects. Tell your S.I. to use your calendar to update his spreadsheet.
Calendar Events can be categorized any number of ways. Of course, this takes time — time which you don’t have. So let us do it for you. Tell us every way you’d like to slice your data, and we’ll add metadata to every event.
Calendars, are, ironically, a horrible way to view calendar data. Data is best manipulated in something like a spreadsheet. So leave it to us. We’ll export your past events into your personal and company database, so you can review it properly.
Calendars are chaotic, boring and unintelligible. But they could be organized, colorful and clear — if only we invested huge amounts of time that we don’t have. But with an S.I., you don’t need to worry about this.
But before and ater exporting your data, you can expect your events to be titled, described, categorized and color-coded according to your preferences.
This not only makes your calendar more useable, it makes your data more tractable to analysis.
Calendars are a rich source of data, but they are rarely mined for insight, because they are not uniformly organized. But with everyone in your company supported by synthetic intelligence, it is possible to perform analyses that were just not possible before.
How much time was spent on Project X by Participants A, B and C? What days do people prefer to do meetings? Which team is working the longest hours?
Make sure a personalized gift sent from Amazon arrives the morning of your important meeting. Invite certain friends to public social events. Make sure your wife knows — actually knows —what your schedule looks like, so she feels informed and considered by communication from you.
These advanced preferences rely on “handoffs” to other processes. The more processes you build for other capabilities, the more powerful your calendar capability can become. Be as creative as you want!
Cliché me not: Time is your most precious resource. By yourself, it is too hard to keep it in sync with the rest of your life. Let us do the work of organizing time for you, so you can do the real work of spending time.