Rethinking Time and Calendar Management with Christina Archer

The pandemic redefined how we work and where it can be done. Between that and being a new mom recovering from mental illness, I opted for the work-from-home, mostly contract work environment. I enjoy the freedom of making my own schedule, but I realized that my time management strategy needed to change. The time I was saving from no commute was being spent on calendar management and time tracking. Join me as I share my journey, demo a few tools I am using to solve these problems, and start a discussion on time management.

Christine Thomas  
All right. Hello, Christina. I believe we're live. How are you?

Christina Archer  
I'm good. How are you?

Christine Thomas  
Great. And thanks for being here today. I see we've got a couple of people online. But if you guys can give me some love in chat and or emojis that will let me know that you can hear me. Perfect. All right. So I don't want to take a second to away from our topic and or your time today. So I'm going to quickly introduce, this is Christina Archer. She is a learner advocate, higher ed guru and instructional designer. And today, I think I'm so excited to hear about your topic. So today, she will be talking about time management and calendar usage. And certainly some lessons learned from her experience. So without further ado, I'll go ahead and hide myself and turn it over to you.

Christina Archer  
Thank you so much, Christine. So this is my first air meet presentation. So hopefully, we can end this out. I think I'm wrapping up today's session. So hopefully, we don't have any tech issues. But first, since it is the end of the day, I just want everybody to take a deep breath. absorb what we've learned today. But take a moment for yourself stand up and stretch, if you need to just do whatever you need to get comfortable. And it has been a lot of back to back sessions. And it is really important to take a moment for yourself. And I'm going to take a moment to go ahead and share my screen. So give me some emojis. If you can see my screen, it should say rethinking time and calendar management. Awesome. It does look a little dark on my screen. Hopefully it's not too dark for you. But that's okay, it's about the narrative more than about what's on the slide. So hi, my name is Christina and my pronouns are she her hers. And I'm an instructional designer, and have been for about the last 11 or so years predominantly in the higher ed space. In health care education of all things, I seem to have found a niche there, and I'm really loving it, I am expanding out into some other nonprofit work. And I'm just really excited to be here and get to talk to you a little bit about my experience with transferring from or with a lot of things that have happened in life, we'll just put it that way. So I'm a new mom, my baby girl is 19 months old on Saturday, I am now doing some contract work instead of like a full time salaried position, which is new. And I am recovering from major depressive disorder and anxiety. And that recovery process, combined with these other things has really forced me to look at how I'm spending my time. And what I actually decided to do, I don't know if anybody picks a year or a word of the year, but I finished off last year and really reflected and was like I'm just not really liking how I'm spending my time. And there's got to be a better way to go about this and methods that I had used. Pre depression and pre baby are just not working anymore. And it makes sense, right? Like my cognitive resources are going elsewhere. And for anybody who's experienced any sort of change with their mental health, you're you just don't function the same way. But on the flip side of that the stuff that I was doing contributed to my anxiety and depression and burnout and ultimately led me to get really sick in the first place. So I don't want to go back to that place. And I've a way for me to help make sure that I maintain a healthy balance and really remember to focus on myself is to be intention intentional with my time so my word of the year is intention. And what you're actually seeing on the slide is I have a planner and in the beginning I did like a vision board mood board kind of got like a horoscope II astrology theme going on. But this isn't the beginning of my planner so that I can refer to it often. And my biggest thing is I want to be intentional with my time and that is in all areas of my life. That includes time I'm spending with my family time I'm spending at work and time I'm spending on myself. So I'm wondering what off the top of your head Do you know how many hours you have in a week? Real quick? Don't nobody do the math. You just throw it in the chat. Too few never enough. I'm looking for a number that does anybody know the actual number?

All right, I Okay, so yeah, I'm seeing I'm seeing some wishlists numbers. And I've seen the accurate number. So the actual number is 168 hours. And that to me, when I learned that, that's how many hours in a week we have. And that's 24 hours a day over a seven day period. I was like, wow, that seems like a lot. But it also doesn't seem like enough. What am I doing with these 168 hours? And how can I better manage that timeframe now that you like I have this concrete amount of time. One of the things that I did due to the pandemic and baby and all that is I'm actually work from home now. And so I don't have to commute anywhere. And I thought this meant that I would have a bunch more time. But I feel like I have just lost that time that I used to spend in the car. Like I don't know where it went. So. So I'm curious to think for anybody who has made that transition to the work from home, if you also feel the same way of like, yeah, at the beginning, we're like, Yes, I got this time back, I can sleep a little bit more, I can make myself breakfast. And now all of a sudden, you're like, where did that time go? Does anybody else have that? That same? Yes. And this was one of my big things. I was like, wait a minute, where I know I have at least two hours coming back to me from being working at home. Where did this time go? So I went on a journey to figure out how am I spending my time and a couple of years ago, actually, before the burnout was really settling in. I found this book called 106, eight hours, you have more time than you think by Laura Vander cam. And the book was very insightful. And first off at first read, especially for those who think now who think who feel like they don't have enough time. It can be kind of jarring at first of like, What do you mean, I have the time, I guess she's kind of telling you you have the time. Um, the big thing to remember is that when you say you don't have time, what it actually means is that it's not a priority, or it's not something that you want to do. And I I missed the session earlier today. But I know there was a discussion about boundaries. And a lot of my reframing my day to day, and how I spend my time and being intentional, is actually setting boundaries for myself and for others. So what I did was I went back to this resource at the beginning of the year. And I'm actually on Laura's like, weekly newsletter, and she does a time tracking challenge every year, which I attempted to do. And she provides me with all the tools to do it, if you want to do this manually, and discovered that I'm really just not wired to manually track my time. Basically, when it came down to you, so she provides you like with spreadsheets and whatnot. But there are also other tools out there. So there's like toggle, clock Wi Fi. And anybody who does any sort of hourly, like contract freelance work, you're probably very familiar with these tools, where you can download the app like on your desktop or on your phone, and you can go ahead and like click start, assign the project to whatever that is. And then you have to remember to hit stop. I am terrible at that. Absolutely terrible. I learned. And now that I do work contracts and need to track my hours, I'm like, Oh my gosh, this is actually an area I really need to pay attention to not just for how much time am I spending at work, but also for my billable hours. So I was looking for a way to kill two birds with one stone here. So using the lessons learned in this book, I went to Google and was like, there has got to be a better way for me to do time tracking, at least while I'm at work. By the way, I put the website here. This is a free resource on how to do your own time makeover. You don't have to put your email in or anything, which is great. It's truly just a PDF. And she kind of just walks you through some of the big steps on how to do a time audit for yourself. And obviously it's adjustable for whatever your needs are. And she said she provides resources. So she does have like spreadsheets broken down to the 15 Minute or the 30 minute maybe even the hour. So you don't even have to create that. So just one of the tools Let everybody know that that is available to you. And thank you for posting the clickable link in the chat. But I went to Google because I was I, I just did not have the quote unquote, time, I did not have the brain capacity to manually write down where I was spending my time. But what I did find was this awesome little tool called timely app or timely dot app, depending on where you look at it. This was initially a little scary, but it actually automatically tracks all of my activity that I'm doing on a computer. And you do have the ability to track activity off of a computer as well, it doesn't really apply to me unless I'm trying to track like what I'm doing with family time or leisure time or something like that. But if you are somebody who travels from job site to job site, there's like location tracking so that it will automatically know when you've gotten to that job site. And when you've left, there are a lot of features that I have not even explored. But basically what this app does is it tracks all of your movements and puts them out for you on in a couple of different views, but basically in a timeline. And it is so smart, the good old, I guess AI technology, then it'll tell me like what browser I'm in what document I'm in what website I've gone to, and creates what it calls memories. And what you do is like at the end of your day, you take these memories and you put them into projects, essentially. So I can easily divide up and say like, Okay, so for these three hours, I was working on this project that was part of this contract, and this is billable hours. And these two hours on another one. And I tend to flip, go back and forth on email, my roles, I'm sure with many of you is to kind of be in call for maybe some technology disasters that might have been the students. So I do check email quite frequently. And I go back and forth between my contracts. And that is really hard to start and stop a timer. To remember to do all that. So timely does all that for me. So like if at 12 5pm, I am checking with employer number one, and at 12:15pm, I'm checking checking in with employer number two, and then my 1230 I'm back with employer number one, it's our automatically tracking that for me, I don't even have to think about it. All I have to do at the end of the day is basically drag these things into my projects. What I wasn't expecting, and what I learned is, I make a habit of quote unquote, multitasking. And multitasking, if anybody has spent any amount of time looking at time, is actually really not anything that we do very well. And you'll see right here, this is just an example of me working on this presentation. Here's a little snapshot of the timeline, you'll see that I had iMessage open. And I was in my rethinking time and calendar presentation, there was some sort of draft that showed up. Um, I did a Google search in their PowerPoint with the stock images. And this is actually a fairly focused session. For me, what I learned is that I will hop back and forth between apps in between windows. And when I look at it in this view, there are two different views. There's a list view and then there's like this timeline calendar view, I was wasting a lot of time not focusing. And that was actually the biggest takeaway that I had by using this timely app. So it really made me rethink how I'm spending my time making sure that I focus on what is important. And then I'm not getting distracted by these other things that I thought were not actually a big part of my day. But they were a larger part of my day than I thought and it has allowed me to make adjustments. The timely app does have a trial. And there is a fee. I'm in no way an expert. And this is a no way like me being salesperson necessarily for them. As much as it was. I want to share an app that I thought were really worked well for me and save me time but also told me about some of my bad time spending habits. So just really wanted to share.

It also showed me we're going to talk about that next how much time I spend trying to schedule meetings and manage my calendar. So I mentioned that I do you know contract work. I've got a couple of you know, technically a couple of different employers in these employers all have their own email account. So like I'm not using my own personal email account. I am using their email account to interact That's with their staff, which is great, except now I've got multiple calendars going on. And they actually like using, they both use Outlook, the schedule or feature, so that they can look at your schedule a schedule of others to try to schedule a meeting, which is fantastic. Except my calendar wasn't always up to date. And I did not always remember to say, Okay, I have a meeting over here with this group. But I didn't put it over here on this calendar, and then oh, I have a personal thing that's happening too. Like, I literally had three different calendars I had to keep up with and it was ridiculous. So I was like, There's got to be a way to make this easier. I'm sure a lot of you've heard of Calendly, or book me or even the, like internal Microsoft booking form. And that is great if you are managing, like one calendar for your appointments. But in this case, I didn't want my email addresses to get known to the other person, if that makes sense. So yes, it could look like Calendly, for instance, could look at all of my calendars and say no, this person is not available. But when it would book the appointment, I couldn't tell it what calendar to book that appointment to without setting up multiple accounts. And then that was just too much to manage. So after a lot of digging, and some of you may, even if you're part of our TL DC community, I've like asked this question a couple of times, I finally figured out the right Google search query to come up with a tool that I needed. It's called calendar bridge. And what this does is it works like Calendly, in the sense that you integrate your calendars all together, it does not work with I Kalba from my Apple user. So I still do have to add my personal events, but I only have to add it to one calendar now instead of two. But what it actually does is it looks at your calendars. And if I booked something on employer number one, it will automatically blackout employer number two, and vice versa. So if somebody is using the Outlook scheduler, they know if I'm actually available. So again, huge time saver. In addition to that they have this is just an example of like what that syncing looks like. They also have a booking page. So again, like if you've used something like Calendly, where you send out a like schedule with me, you can have multiple booking pages. And it will write to the calendar you want it to write to. So if again, employer number one, I have a booking page and employer number two, I have a booking page, and they can't see each other but they're reading each other's calendars and posting to the appropriate calendar. Biggest time saver that I can even like I was like Where has this been my whole life. But it took a really weird search query to find it. Again, there isn't a cost for this there is a a trial, both of these apps, in my opinion, they were fairly low cost and the amount of time it has saved me has been immense. So these were just a couple of the tools that I wanted to share. Because I have been just like, oh my like, there has to be a way right, we live in 2023. And thankfully, we have found the way so. So again, I just wanted to share. Here's an example. By the way, what this looks like. So Oh, for me is out of office. And I marked it as out of office and employer number one for this conference. And automatically that busy you see as the other calendar, and it automatically blocked it out. I did not have to do it myself. You can also customize what that says to be as detailed or not as detailed as possible. However you do your own calendar management management, by the way. So like I could have it say on the other side where it says busy. The same exact title, I could have it say the name of the employer. So like maybe I'm managing like five different calendars. It'll tell me what calendar it's coming from. But yeah, this has been so, so helpful. Um, I just saw a note here something about Google calendars. This tool does work with Google calendars, just so you know. It just does not work with iCal, but it works with your Outlook 365 Exchange. And then with Google, you can like integrate them all into one spot. So And at one point, I did have a third calendar, a Google Calendar for a separate contract that is no longer happening. So but all three had worked together beautifully. And I loved it and it makes me so happy that I don't spend all this time trying to figure out my calendar. So I So those are a couple of big tools that I have found to help me be more intentional with my time. The next area for me is actually task management. And I'm hoping to actually open this up for discussion for everybody. I'd mentioned that I have had a lot of life changes, and my brain just doesn't work the way it does anymore. I've been trying to find the task management tool of my dreams. So just kind of helped me remember to do the things that I say I would do, because I just don't have that memory capacity anymore. Depression changes your mind. But apparently, so does being a mother. Like, again, no wonder your cognitive resources are going elsewhere. I need a better solution for for task management. So

I'd like to open this up for everybody. What are your favorites? Okay, so I see clickup. I've heard of clickup. Right now I'm using a combination of things I'm trying to get Yes, Asana is one of my favorites. I'm trying to get everybody on board with Asana.

I've tried to do this. I'm not a huge fan of Trello. But I've used it. And I know it works very well for others. I've tried notion, I haven't had the mental capacity to figure out how to get like automated stuff in no shade. But I love that everybody is sharing these things. I do have a planner I use and I have like this long, like brain dump list that has been working for me. Kind of Ooh, airtable. I have I don't know that I've heard of air table.

I just realized that my chat wasn't moving. Room research task a full focus planner. Oh, click up is more powerful than Asana notion and one day who I have to check that out, then that's a pretty big.

And you know what I actually would really love. And I'm just not a Google calendar girl. But for those who use Google, you know how when you can add like tasks, right into your calendar and check it off? Why can't we do that? And all calendars? I guess I just I need that satisfied satisfaction of checking it off. I think that would be the perfect. Do we have any like app developers here? Can we like make this a plug in that works with all calendars?

Unknown Speaker  
All right, well, these

Christina Archer  
are some great suggestions. And I hope I'm gonna definitely check some of these out. And who knows, maybe we will have a part two discussion about this is like what I've explored and learned. But I do want to leave you with the timing of this presentation is actually perfect. So Saturday is April 1, which concludes the first quarter of the year. And I have never really thought of my year as quarters. But I've been following a lot of YouTubers and tech talkers and Instagramers. And in planning and task management community, and a lot of them do this quarterly reflection, and make adjustments to what their intentions are for the year their goals for the year. And I never thought about doing that. But this year, I actually want to give it a try. I've kind of thought about it at like the halfway mark. But if you're really going off task six months, and it's hard to kind of roll back or out. So I would like to challenge you to think about however you decided to go about excuse me, you're new here whether you set goals or intentions how to word of the Year. Take a moment to reflect Are you happy with how you're spending your time? And what can you do to change it? If you're not and I would also challenge you this was something that I did not do very well pre depression and I'm still struggling with this is am I spending the time enough time during the stuff that I actually want to do? Am I putting me first and me first is a very it's such a scary phrase, especially now that I'm also a new mom. But if I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of my family and I also can't do work like the bottom line is if you do not take care of yourself all the other stuff just isn't gonna get done. So this year, I'm really trying to break that habit of Oh, the dishes need done, oh, the laundry needs done, oh, this email came through and I need to address it. All of these things before I take care of myself, because at the end of the day, we only have 168 hours. And if you keep pushing yourself off, those hours are going to be consumed by the things that you didn't want to do. So you do have to make it a habit. Exactly what Kirsten said, you have to make it a habit to take care of yourself. But also setting boundaries at work and learning. It's okay to slow down. You don't have to accomplish 20 things in a day, I think there was somewhere I'd read. Like you really shouldn't have like a giant task list for the day, it should be like two or three big items. And that's it. And that's been something that I've been struggling with, as well as far as like managing my time. So he said, maybe it'll be a check in three months from now I'll figure out some task management and have a second quarter reflection. But that is all that I have. If you have any questions. Suggestions, I open the floor to everybody. Again, you can connect with me on LinkedIn as well just like what everybody has said today

Oh, I love that pour from your saucer, not your cup. That is so great. And there's there's a lot of talk, I've seen this in like mom communities, I guess, of oh, how you have to fill like you know, you had to fill your cup first. I'm trying to so I'm totally fumbling over this was basically saying that you are bottomless is essentially what I'm saying as like a mother you are bottomless because you have to do what you have to do to take care of whoever you need to take care of. And I would I just want to caution not to fall into that I started to fall into that comparison trap. And exactly, you have to put your oxygen mask on first otherwise you are no use no use at all to your family

so any any questions? Otherwise, at least here in Ohio. It is a beautiful day. I'm happy to let you go.

Unknown Speaker  
All right.

Christina Archer  
Well, this concludes the end of day one of the woman of l&d conference tomorrow starts Day to you. Christine, I'm trying remember the time was it a 9am? Eastern 1112? Yeah.

Christine Thomas  
This morning in chat, I'm like what's starting? So with everyone being on different coasts, I believe if I'm not mistaken, tomorrow, we're kicking off. I think it's the same time. So we'll start 11am I guess, right. Eastern time. Thank you. And then 8am Pacific. So you are correct. I do know that the tables are open in the lounge, a couple people have put in some interesting topics. I saw dei in there. There's a couple folks just kind of monitoring. So please feel free. If you all want to stop into the lounge and take it the opportunity to do some networking and connect with one the folks that presented today. And then also some of the people that just simply were in attendance, please feel free to do that. Otherwise, we'll call it a wrap and we'll see everybody tomorrow. So thanks again, Christina. Fantastic tools you think you shared with us today. Thank you. All right, everybody. Have a great day. We'll see you tomorrow on day two.

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