🎉 Reclaim is free through 2021 Learn More

ReclaimAI Blog

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

Time blocking makes your calendar busy (in a good way)
July 16, 2019

Is time blocking stressing you out? Start by adding Reclaim to your calendar to let the computer take care of it.

“Your calendar is horrible.”



For years, this is what I heard from people trying to schedule time with me. They weren’t lying. I had virtually no gaps — at least from what they could see — for them to book meetings over. All they saw was a sea of events, a nonstop barrage of useless blocks of time. And some of the time, I hate to admit that they were probably spot-on. At times my calendar was truly horrible, and a lot of what was on there was pretty useless, even to me.

That being said, there’s been a lot of talk about Focus Time and Deep Work in the past several years, which paints a bit of a binary: that meetings are bad, and free time for me to go into a cave by myself is good. This mentality is furthered by Paul Graham’s “Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule” from 2009, which places a lot of emphasis on the benefits of reducing meetings and spending more time on more “productive” activities.

Taken to the extreme, we might be arguing that the best schedules have…nothing on them at all.

However, while my slammed calendar was sometimes an indicator that I was oversubscribed, unfocused and deeply underwater, that wasn’t always the case: often, my busy calendar actually indicated that I’d optimized my time around my priorities and that all of my time that week was going to be spent on those things. In fact, as someone would try to book time with me and lament “Your calendar is horrible”, I would respond “Yep, it sure is. I’m spending my entire workweek on priorities A, B, C, and D with the key people I need to get that shit done. Let’s try to meet next week.”

Be busy...for the right things

My perspective on this is simple: a busy calendar isn’t by itself bad. A busy calendar with intentionality, that is, isn’t bad. A busy calendar with no intentionality, however, most certainly is. In other words, if you’re filling up the 40-50 office hours that you have each week on the things that are truly important and defending your time to work on that stuff, your calendar is assuredly going to be busy. Busy, but not horrible. If you’re a victim of your calendar, though — if you just relent to the deluge of meetings that come your way and don’t think of the schedule as actual blocks of time that are dedicated to your priorities, you’re going to be hurting every week.

Another take on this comes from Mike Monteiro’s excellent article, “The Chokehold of Calendars”:

People rarely schedule working time. And when they do it’s viewed as second-tier time. It’s interruptible. Meetings trump working time…By handling events as something we work towards and need time to produce things for, rather than as disruptive singularities, and by respecting that work time as something associated with a goal we achieve a calendar that shows both those meetings, now less inane, and the time time necessary to do the work that will make those meetings successful.

In other words: as you’re planning your week, don’t try to just book "working" time. It's unfocused, and it's not clear what you're doing with it to others, so they see it as interruptible. Alternatively, if you own your calendar and align events to your goals, you're suddenly changing the entire paradigm: it's not "working time vs. meetings", but rather "useful meetings vs. not useful ones."

Yes, take the time you need for solo work. Yes, spend time making things. But if you’re a manager (hell, even if you’re a maker), chances are you need collaboration points with other smart people to make progress on your priorities. Make useful meetings that advance the important stuff. Make meetings that people walk away from inspired and invigorated (imagine that!) instead of energy-sapped and demoralized.

You’re going to be busy, and your calendar will probably still be slammed: ideally, though, it’s for the things that matter. And next time someone says “your calendar is horrible”, you can say “I made it this way, and I love it.”

Want to get a calendar that you love? Sign up for Reclaim and we'll help you get there.

Top Posts

Effective Meetings vs. Pointless Meetings: How to Tell the Difference & Prioritize Your Own Time

3 Ways to Find Work-Life Balance in the New Normal

Reclaim just raised $4.8M in seed funding! 🎉

Pareto Principle: Using the 80/20 Rule for Priority Management

10 Google Calendar Issues You Didn’t Know You Had

3 Single-Tasking Tips to Improve Your Focus

How to Create a Smart Calendar

Announcing the Planner Beta: a New Way to Manage Your Workweek

4 Tried and True Time Blocking Planner Approaches to Squeeze More From Busy Schedules

The only Google Calendar hacks you'll ever need

Effective Meetings vs. Pointless Meetings: How to Tell the Difference & Prioritize Your Own Time
June 17, 2021

Effective Meetings vs. Pointless Meetings: How to Tell the Difference & Prioritize Your Own Time

Learn the 5 key differences between effective vs. pointless meetings, and 3 tips to avoid unnecessary meetings getting booked on your calendar.
3 Ways to Find Work-Life Balance in the New Normal
June 10, 2021

3 Ways to Find Work-Life Balance in the New Normal

You want work-life balance, but work and life can't separate into equal halves. Forget balance, here are three ways to make work-life harmony a reality.
Reclaim just raised $4.8M in seed funding! 🎉
May 26, 2021

Reclaim just raised $4.8M in seed funding! 🎉

We're excited to announce that Reclaim has raised $4.8M in seed funding led by Index Ventures. Here's what comes next.
Pareto Principle: Using the 80/20 Rule for Priority Management
May 25, 2021

Pareto Principle: Using the 80/20 Rule for Priority Management

How to use the Pareto Principle 80/20 rule to block time for your priorities.
10 Google Calendar Issues You Didn’t Know You Had
May 11, 2021

10 Google Calendar Issues You Didn’t Know You Had

Google Calendar is great, but sometimes it's not enough. Here are 10 problems you're probably experiencing, and how to use Reclaim.ai to make them 10 times better.
3 Single-Tasking Tips to Improve Your Focus
April 28, 2021

3 Single-Tasking Tips to Improve Your Focus

If you struggle to do one thing at a time, you're not alone. Here's how to switch to single-tasking to improve your focus.
How to Create a Smart Calendar
April 22, 2021

How to Create a Smart Calendar

A smart calendar can help you simplify calendar management and boost productivity. Here's how to create a smart calendar so you can take control of your busy schedule.
Time Management Advice - Top 3 Problems & How to Solve Them
April 9, 2021

Time Management Advice - Top 3 Problems & How to Solve Them

Most time management advice is out of touch with reality. Here are the top 3 problems with it and how to solve them.
Announcing the Planner Beta: a New Way to Manage Your Workweek
April 5, 2021

Announcing the Planner Beta: a New Way to Manage Your Workweek

We're excited to announce that Planner is now available in public beta for all Reclaim users. Planner lets you prioritize and schedule all your Tasks and Habits exactly the way you want, every week.
4 Tried and True Time Blocking Planner Approaches to Squeeze More From Busy Schedules
March 25, 2021

4 Tried and True Time Blocking Planner Approaches to Squeeze More From Busy Schedules

Blocking time in your calendar is one of the most proactive ways to manage your schedule. Here’s the most popular time blocking approaches. Plus: learn how to use Google Calendars and Reclaim to easily practice time blocking.
Context Switching Is Destroying Your Workday: Here's How to Fix It
March 16, 2021

Context Switching Is Destroying Your Workday: Here's How to Fix It

How do you stop context switching from eating into your productive time? We look at tactics to help you reduce task switching and improve your concentration at work.
Why You Can’t Focus at Work, and How to Get Back on Track
March 8, 2021

Why You Can’t Focus at Work, and How to Get Back on Track

It's not always easy to achieve deep focus in the modern workplace. Here are evidence-based strategies you can use to improve your focus during the workday.
Time Management for Managers: How to Tame Your Busy Calendar
March 1, 2021

Time Management for Managers: How to Tame Your Busy Calendar

Battling to find time for your most important priorities? Here are time management techniques for regaining control of your calendar.
Introducing Tasks: your to-do list finally meets your calendar
September 1, 2020

Introducing Tasks: your to-do list finally meets your calendar

We just launched Tasks. It's like your backlog and your calendar decided to make it official and get hitched.
Introducing Habits: smart, automatic time blocking for your routines
June 26, 2020

Introducing Habits: smart, automatic time blocking for your routines

Struggling to make time for the things that matter in these crazy times? Never fear, Habits are here.
Calendar Heroes: a Q&A with Zachary Smith, Managing Director at Equinix
May 27, 2020

Calendar Heroes: a Q&A with Zachary Smith, Managing Director at Equinix

We had a chance to sit down virtually with Zachary Smith, who founded Packet before it was acquired by Equinix, where he now serves as Managing Director for their bare metal and edge computing business.
Introducing Reclaim Assistant: more flexibility, more smarts
May 11, 2020

Introducing Reclaim Assistant: more flexibility, more smarts

We just launched Reclaim Assistant, a smarter way to get your calendar under control.
The only Google Calendar hacks you'll ever need
April 23, 2020

The only Google Calendar hacks you'll ever need

Tired of reading posts about Google Calendar hacks and tips that just aren't useful? This is the one for you.
4 new features from Reclaim to help you work from home
April 16, 2020

4 new features from Reclaim to help you work from home

If you're new to working from home or working remotely, these new features from Reclaim will help you to keep your sanity intact.
5 ways to help your remote teams
March 31, 2020

5 ways to help your remote teams

Now that your teams are remote, how do you make sure they don't burn out? Here are 5 ways to help your remote teams keep things balanced.
How good is your work-life balance?
February 7, 2020

How good is your work-life balance?

How defended is your work calendar? Here are some numbers that might make you wonder.
Announcing Reclaim LifeWork: sync all the calendars!
January 24, 2020

Announcing Reclaim LifeWork: sync all the calendars!

We're excited to announce the launch of Reclaim LifeWork. Automatically block time on your work calendar for personal events, and never miss out on life again.
8 tips for running a great product demo meeting
October 15, 2019

8 tips for running a great product demo meeting

Are your weekly demos getting stale? Here are 8 easy ways to make them better.
Google Calendar's working hours feature just got stronger
October 2, 2019

Google Calendar's working hours feature just got stronger

In September, Google made some changes to its Working Hours feature that hint at how it's trying to defend your work-life balance.
Here's how your coworkers manage their calendars
September 18, 2019

Here's how your coworkers manage their calendars

We surveyed 37 workers across different roles to find out more about their calendar management and meeting habits.
How to have fewer (and better) meetings: a sitdown with David Grady
August 21, 2019

How to have fewer (and better) meetings: a sitdown with David Grady

We sat down (virtually) with David Grady of TedTalk fame to chat about his perspectives on meeting hell, how to gracefully decline bad meetings, and where he sees the future of this whole affair going.
How to fix your broken work calendar
August 6, 2019

How to fix your broken work calendar

This handy template and tool gives you a way to take back your time by focusing on what matters.
Time blocking makes your calendar busy (in a good way)
July 16, 2019

Time blocking makes your calendar busy (in a good way)

Want to have a great workweek? Start by blocking time on your calendar.
Why does my calendar suck?
July 8, 2019

Why does my calendar suck?

You're a smart person. You're good at focusing on the right stuff. So why does your schedule still suck?
See more posts

Ready to Reclaim?

Try it out