How I redesigned my team’s calendar to be more productive

We decided to treat our rituals and calendar as a product. Testing, learning, and iterating with time. So every once in a while we move, delete, create things that suit our moment as a team, and make us more productive and focused.

This is how my calendar used to look like. Quite scary, right?

As a Product Designer at Nubank, you can be very involved in a lot of subjects and have too many meetings. Which is awesome ’cause you can be in movement learning and practicing a lot. But It can also be overwhelming when you have to deliver and many things are happening at the same time.

Actually, I think you can relate to this scenario even if you don’t work at Nubank. And even if you are not a Product Designer, right? The calendar can be this evil monster that we feed automatic yesses before even thinking of how it’s going to grow wild and eat all your free time. In this article, I’m going to go through my process of redesigning my more-than-thirty-people team’s agenda so we could have enough alignment and a bunch of free focus time.

Look the beast in the eye

After paying close attention to my events, I realized we were not being intentional when creating new rituals and where they should be placed so we could take the best of it. To understand more about the kinds of events I recreated the calendar on Figma (just like the image above, but with event titles on the boxes) and did some simple color-tagging to differentiate contexts: Squad events, Tribe events, Chapter events, and Company-wide events. And every once in a while I had some to-dos and reminders.
(I can see it working on Trello or Notion as well.)

By stuff, I mean to-dos and reminders.

I realized two things here: As it should be, most of my time was dedicated to Squad-related rituals and meetings. I was saying yes too many times, it’s ok to say no to some event invitations. Try to move them forward so you can participate — or just say no if you don’t have to go. (Politely, please )

“How could I possibly have worked at this company for an entire year without having dedicated productivity time? How did I ever deliver things?” — still don’t know the answer

Talk to your team and build a new solution together

It’s very important to notice that events are made for many people, and they have to agree with any changes, so for me, it was best to get everyone onboarded creating together a new solution.

So I started talking to the team, one by one, understanding how they felt about the events and their productivity. I discovered in these quick conversations that in my team there were two kinds of people:

  1. People who love meetings. This is when they are productive: updating other people, having discussions, and alignments. Just like business and product people.
  2. People who hate meetings. This is when they can’t deliver their work. Like developers and creatives. For this kind, things are even worse if you have a day full of small slots between meetings.

What about Product Designers? Which one is our kind? Yes, we’re definitely on both sides, having to have meetings, alignments, and discussions and at the same time having to have at least two-hour slots to be productive.

Experimenting scenarios

With those different types in mind, it was time to start redesigning the calendar to get everyone productive and happy.

This is the moment why it’s important to use Figma or something other than Google Calendar: I did experimentations. Dragging events around to see how they can create free and blocked slots so people can focus or align.

The first thing was fixing on the board the events I wouldn’t be able to change. Just like Tribe, Chapter, and Company-wide events. They’re not many, so I could start from there to work things around.

Then I tried to pay attention to our rituals and why they existed. This way I could reorg, rename, split, merge and rearrange events into this one day we called Squad’s Day. Every Monday we have a day packed with updates, alignments, learning, discussions, and planning for the future. This way people won’t need to worry about delivering things on Monday, because this is the day to look at the team, the product, and the strategy.

Of course, some people still need to have meetings during the week like 1:1s, small group alignments, kick-offs, etc. So together we were able to recreate our old No-Meetings Day into something that we respect and that helps us. After every Squad’s Day, we have this Tuesday dedicated to focusing and protecting our team from those wild last-minute urgent meetings that are not that urgent after all .

On Tuesdays, we have this big No-Meetings Day block, keeping us focused the entire day.

Test, learn and improve

Implementing it was easy. We decided to treat our rituals and calendar as a product. Testing, learning, and iterating with time. So every once in a while we move, delete, create things that suit our moment as a team, and make us more productive and focused.

Rituals change all the time, right now they look like this.

Now we live happily ever after with our new product delivery: the team’s calendar. If you have some other calendar design tips please share in the comments below, I’d love to learn new tricks.

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