Extending the Capabilities of a Simple Calendar for Improved Time Management

When it comes to time management, there are a lot of tools and tricks to help you maximize your precious time. A simple calendar and clock are two of the most common tools, but even simple tools can be modified and extended to help you reach an even higher potential. A clock, for example, can be a much more powerful tool when you add alarm capabilities.

The built-in OS X Calendar app has a few extensible tricks up its sleeves to help you gain an incredible height of efficiency, if you know what to look for and how to use them. Here's a simple, yet effective tip, for using Calendar in a way that most people don't.

When you open Calendar, you see 4 view options along the top:


Day Week, Month and Year. For the most part, people stick to either Day or Week (my personal preference is Week). To this point, have you ever considered using the Year view? If not, I bet you will now!

If you've ever used or seen a heat map, this will look familiar to you. If not, the concept is simple. A white day means you have nothing on the calendar for that day. A red day means you're pretty booked up (maybe overly booked). Various shades of yellow mean you're somewhere in between.

Obviously, you aren't going to get a lot of detail here, but this is a great way to get a 35,000-foot view of your schedule. How is this useful? Let's say you're planning a week-long vacation. This is a great way to generally see what times of the year to target and which to avoid. The third week in November, for example, might be a good week to target a vacation for our family. Once you identify a generic timeframe, you can drill down from there to look at the details.

Here's another great way to use this feature. Let's say you manage a small group of people, and you want to visually see requested vacation time for the year to avoid overbooking and leaving your office empty. You would first want to create a new calendar called "Vacation Time", and populate it with requested time off for your employees. Next, click on the Calendars button to temporarily turn off all other calendars, then switch to Year view. It could look something like this:

This is a great way to keep track of time-off in a way that's quick to create and drop-dead simple to manage.

Posted on July 30, 2015 and filed under Design, How To, Mac.