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ReclaimAI Blog

Productivity tips, calendar hacks, and product updates from the Reclaim team.

Introducing Habits: smart, automatic time blocking for your routines
June 26, 2020

Time blocking on your calendar just got way easier. We're excited to announce the launch of Habits, a new way to make sure you always get time for the things you do often.

Flexible time for your routines

It's been about a month since we launched Reclaim Assistant, and since then we've been hard at work bringing Habits into the world. Habits lets you make time for anything you do regularly: exercise, writing your weekly status, meditation, getting to Inbox Zero -- anything you can imagine, Reclaim will find time for it.

Habits takes an intelligent and adaptive approach to block time for the things you want to get done on a regular basis. Chatting with hundreds of busy professionals over the past year, we kept hearing a consistent challenge to effective time blocking: interruptions made it way too hard to make a plan and stick to it.

Simply put, time blocking is hard because stuff happens. And when stuff happens, your routines get interrupted. And when your routines get interrupted, you have a bad time. You have to manually move around a bunch of events on your calendar just to get back to sanity, and by the time you've done it, another interruption comes in. Yuck.

Habits lets you express your needs with flexibility. You simply tell Reclaim what you need time for, roughly when you need it, the minimum and maximum amounts of time you want to spend on it, and Reclaim takes care of the rest.

Stay available...until you're not

Your calendar is a balancing act. You can't just fill it up and expect to look approachable to others. At the same time, you need to make sure that your time gets defended when you're truly running low on it.

When you create a Habit, Reclaim analyzes your calendar for the next three weeks to see what your schedule looks like. It adds time blocks to your calendar for your Habit, but if your schedule is pretty free, those blocks will initially be added as Free time. In other words, you'll see the events on your calendar, but others won't.

As your week fills up, Reclaim keeps an eye on your availability and moves your Habits around on the calendar automatically if they're interrupted by incoming meetings. Once your week is too full, Reclaim automatically flips the time blocks to Busy and offers up a message to let people know that the time is defended:

No fighting with your assistant

We know that some time blocking tools are like a constant battle between you and an invisible calendar ghoul. Time gets blocked, you try to move it, and it just snaps back into place. That's not how a good assistant operates.

Great assistants know that you know your priorities best. If you want to reschedule something, you do it. Of course, you still want them keeping an eye on your calendar after you've done it to make sure your schedule doesn't go haywire.

Reclaim takes an intuitive approach to how you interact with the calendar. If you decide you want to move a Habit, Reclaim will just let you do it -- but it won't take its eye off your schedule. Once you've moved the Habit, Reclaim will rethink your preferred times so that it adapts to the changes you just made. If it gets interrupted again, Reclaim will automatically reschedule it to another preferred time.

Customize your Habits

Habits also introduces more control over how events show up to others on your calendar, as well as how Habits interact with other events on your calendar.

Reclaim only needs a few inputs to block time on your calendar for your Habits, but there are a ton of other options that you can customize to your liking:

  • Time Defense: some Habits are essential to your work and life. Others, you might feel OK skipping them every so often. We've introduced a new concept in Habits called Time Defense, where you can adjust how aggressively you want Reclaim to block time on your calendar as Busy. Least Defensive will only flip the event to Busy 30 minutes before it is scheduled to begin, or if there's less than one free time slot left on your calendar for it. Most Defensive, on the other hand, will defend it much earlier.
  • Event Color: you can now override the color-coding that Reclaim uses on your Habits. By default, Reclaim will assign a color to your Habit that is distinct from the other colors on your calendar, but you can choose from any other you'd like.
  • Notifications: you can decide whether or not you want to use your default calendar notifications for your Habit.
  • Automatically decline interruptions: you can now tell Reclaim to auto-decline events that interrupt your Habits once they've been marked as Busy. You can customize the message sent to others so that it shows up in your voice.
  • Busy Description: once your Habit has been marked as Busy, you can customize what message is sent to others. By default, Reclaim will take the blame for your schedule so you don't have to -- but you can decide how you want this to appear to others.
  • CC Others: you can add other people to your Habits so they can join you. For example, one of our team members has a family walk that he invites his kids and partner to every day.
  • Avoid Duplicate Events: Reclaim can look for a list of words -- that you provide -- on your calendar and avoid scheduling your Habit if it sees them. For example, if you have a Habit called "Lunch" and you don't want Reclaim to schedule if it sees the word "lunch" or the word "food" on your calendar.

Again, just like a great assistant, Reclaim gives you flexibility over how you want your time to appear to others. We want your experience setting up a Habit to be simple but powerful: we're strong believers in sane defaults  -- with lots of customization if you want it.

Your calendar: one Slack away

Habits brings with it a brand-new Slack integration that puts your schedule at your fingertips, enabling you to reschedule, skip, and snooze Habits without ever having to touch your calendar.

By adding the integration to your workspace, you can quickly view your agenda broken down by category as well as manage all your Reclaim-created events for your Habits.

Reclaim's Slack integration is like having an assistant right nearby. If you don't feel like doing a Habit at its scheduled time, all you have to do is type in the time that you want it to happen, and Reclaim will analyze your schedule in real time to find the closest possible time.

Once you find the new time you want, Reclaim will lock it in and update your schedule. You can also tell Reclaim that you want to skip a Habit that day and Reclaim will remove it from your calendar. No touching your calendar, no playing Calendar Tetris.

Block time for work, block time for life

Habits can be used to block time for anything you want to get done regularly, work or personal. Your calendar is a reflection of your priorities, and we believe that work is just one part of that equation. As part of this release, we've also built a new Use Cases page that will help you get inspired to make time for the things that matter:

When you sign up for Reclaim, you'll get a list of suggested Habits to help inspire you and get you started. Just click on the Habit you want to add, and Reclaim will let you modify it to suit your needs.

What our users are saying (and doing)

We've gotten lots of love for Habits since we went live. It makes us excited to hear how it's changing people's routines for the better:

"Without Habits, people would trample all over my calendar, leaving me on Zoom for 9 hours a day."
"Habits have been enormously helpful for my calendar. I use it to block out time for email, status updates, lunches, and exercise. It's been enormously helpful in helping me make my schedule both flexible and focused."
"I used to spend hours each week moving blocks of time around on my cal in the hopes of saving my sanity and gaining a bit of focus. Reclaim has automated this elegantly."
"It's like having your own EA -- things just magically move around based on your schedule."

Since we launched Habits, we've seen tons of amazing use cases and feedback from our users. Here's a quick look at what folks have done by the numbers since June 10th:

  • We've created over 100,000 total Habits events on people's calendars
  • Of those, 8,333 have been proactively defended and marked as Busy
  • Nearly 64,000 hours of time have been blocked on people's calendars -- that's over 1000 days of time!

We're seeing people block time for lunch, catching up on email, exercising, taking daily walks, writing their weekly status report, meditating, reading, coding, writing, networking, and more. Hundreds of unique Habits have been created already, and we can't wait to see what you do with it.

Start making time for your routines right now!

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