5 Scheduling Tips For Better Calendar Management

My Schedule is Holding Me Hostage

“Juliana, my calendar has made me it’s b*tch – what do I do?”

I get that a lot from clients. Followed by, “I feel like I’m running from meeting to meeting, I’m doing a million things and yet and I’m not making more revenue”

Here are 5 steps to cleansing your calendar:

Identify your time-suckers

  • Interruptions from friends and family who think you all the time in the world because you make your own schedule  (2 hours avg)
  • Client meetings that run over (30 min/ mtg avg)
  • Social Media (1.5 hours avg),  etc

I am not talking about the 10 min you use to rationalize the reward system of getting through that dreadful email backlog, I am talking about the 2 hours you use to procrastinate going through the 150 emails you have when you came back from vacay.

Make the list, set aside time each day for essential, but annoying things. Once people know that they can reach you in a particular window and only that window, the interruptions will drop.

 Make a framework

Write down all your business and personal activities. (Click here to download a checklist to mark off as you add them to your calendar).

Tips to Create blocks in your schedule:

  • Pick the nasty stuff you hate doing and put it first during the day
  • Take a break, have lunch then tackle your next project
  • Streamline your meetings as much as possible to avoid running around and create standing meetings with recurring clients
  • Make sure nothing is missing in your personal and professional life ie. going to the bank, creating content, and buying groceries.
  • And don’t just repress the tasks you don’t want to do in this list. This means if you are in the early stages of your business and are going hard on sales outreach, then you have to take into account quality time with a CRM and email follow-up to move your pipeline along.

 Anticipate curve balls

Sometimes you may feel like you are playing whack-a-mole with unanticipated requests that come up during the day. As soon as I smack one down, two new ones shoot right up!

Most people know what the common curveballs are in their life and business – family members who constantly call to chat, clients that ask for changes at the last minute.

We can make a plan for them BY ADDING some buffer time during the day to handle these spontaneous requests. The great thing is, if there are no curveballs that day, guess what — you have extra time! How cool is that?

Put it in your calendar

If it’s not on your calendar, it doesn’t exist. Trees fall in the woods. If someone doesn’t have it in their calendar to bring a chainsaw to it, it’s just going to lie there, whether or not it’s making a sound.  Take your Outlook calendar or Google calendar (or whatever you use) and section off every activity. If you are hesitating, get honest and ask yourself if you are really going to do it. If not, let it go.

Tweet this: If it’s not on your calendar, it doesn’t exist.

Although it may feel robotic — even write down your personal meetings and outings with friends and family.

 Look for partners

  • Are there team members that would be better suited to doing lower level tasks so you can handle higher priorities?
  • Are there strategic partners that you can team up with to handle some of your projects, i.e. co-branding an event, online workshop, etc.?
  • Is there budget to hire contractors or team members where you see bottlenecks? IF YOU DON’T HAVE THESE FOLKS IN YOUR LIFE, IT’S TIME TO FIND THEM. Ooooh yeah – delegation time.

Bonus Round – THE NEED TO TICK OFF ITEMS ON A TO-DO LIST.

THIS IS in the biggest pitfall. We are so overwhelmed that sometimes we feel like every time we check off something in that to-do list we have a mini-victory (filled with glory as the mental crowd goes wiiiild).

It’s awesome to feel busy, but at the end of the day we are not moving our business forward. Don’t go for lower level tasks to feed the ego, stick to your commitment to your business — even when it feels hard ( and the mental crowd goes – me no likey).

Tweet this: Stick to your commitment to your business — even when it feels hard

ScaleTime’s Tip: Press pause, download the checklist, and be proactive about your calendar. I recommend you do this one with someone who is system’s oriented because brainstorming helps you see things you can’t yourself i.e. how long things actually take.

So if you’re banging your head against a wall because there aren’t enough hours in the day and need some help to get off that insane carousel, then let me know — I’ll throw you a line and pull you out! Just email me.

Invest in Your Business

“Juliana, my business is like my baby!!!” I hear so many friends, colleagues and clients say to me.

But then, when it comes to opening that wallet and buying that baby toys (electronics), learning tools (professional development) play date activities (networking/conferences) or diapers (because you know, S**t happens), all of a sudden there’s a million things more important than “the baby”.

“I don’t have the money right now”
“I can do it myself”
“Is it really worth it”
“I would love to, but …”

Hmmmm.

I know, I know – sometimes there isn’t enough cash-flow for toys and diapers.

But let us help you in making the decision on things you should not skimp on — especially when there is cash flow and you are ready (or your baby business is throwing a tantrum because it really needs it).

First: The diapers

You have to protect yourself from unwanted messes. For many reasons people do not register their companies right away. You should, so that you can protect your personal assets. If for whatever reason you are not ready to take the leap and register the business, you should at least have a service agreement and a contractor agreement.

  • The service agreement protects you from your clients doing crazy stuff or potentially not paying half way through a project. I heard a story last week of an architecture firm that did not have the right contracts in place and  not only did the client not pay, the architects had to finish the project and then pay the client for the work done. Do not let that be you.
  • The contractor agreement prevents you from your regular service providers or contractors from potentially taking advantage of you or not complying with work that is supposed to be done.

Business Development

The main reason small businesses fail in the US is that they do not have enough sales. Whether you are starting up or have been open for 10+ years, the investment in business growth is imperative. If you are bootstrapping or in survival mode, dedicate some budget for networking – hit the streets and hustle. If you know how much a dedicated and amazing sales rep costs (ALOT – BUT SO WORTH IT) and your business can afford it, do it.

Organization

Would you let that baby do whatever it wants whenever it wanted? No! Neither should your business. Whether its:
  • Digital – from managing your inbox to connecting your several workstations to a wireless server
  • Spacial – are you working on the dining room table? is your inventory a muck?
  • Organizational – employee sizes big and small should be leveraging everyones strengths and weaknesses, “I can do everything” is not the answer and neither is “all hands on deck,” but  no one knows what’s going on
  • Operations – having efficiency increases your capacity and your ability to sell more

A Website

Everyone is so excited about social media and digital marketing and seo — you know, the sexy stuff. Many people forget all those things point to a website. If your website sucks you won’t be able to seal the deal. It’s like wearing a beautiful gown with granny underwear, you can’t do it. You shouldn’t. Your website is your 24 hours sales person, treat it well.  You don’t need anything overly complicated:
  • Your info
  • Nice design
  • Call to action  buttons ( because you want your clients to contact, call, or most importantly, buy).
  • And make sure it is responsive, so that anyone, anywhere, on any mobile can view it without squinting and irritation.

HEEEEELP!!!! I’m drowning and I can’t come up for air!

I love it when people are soooo proud because they can do it all. Chances are you are not doing it all, and there are things slipping. Worst of all, is that no matter the facade, your colleagues, your vendors, your loved ones and worst of all your clients, can tell. Business owners wearing 20 hats are surely to burn out quickly.

“But Juliana, I’m just starting … I can’t afford it”
Really? Really?
You can’t sacrifice X bottles of wine to get you 4 hours of admin help or a bookkeeper? (Replace wine with your favorite vice).
  • Would you tell your baby when it’s kicking and screaming, that you are not willing to show it the love it deserves?
  • Take out the calculator and figure out which task or tasks are:
  • a) driving you the most crazy b) you are not good at c) you really need d) could help your business the most or e) all of the above and how much it is going to cost you.
  • Then figure out how much money you can make if you spent that time producing and selling.
  • And lastly, make the sacrifice.

Now I have a quick question for you:

Have you ever passed up an opportunity to invest something in your business that you know would have improved on it? and Why?  Share your story in the comments.