Do you often feel unproductive despite coming to the office early, heading home late, and even working overtime on weekends? Every meeting, presentation, and deadline shows no progress? Catching yourself spending more time figuring out what your staff is doing, or when they’ll be free for a meeting, than you do getting the real work done?
If you relate to any of these, then it’s time to make a change! One of the most effective ways to level up your work life is to create a scheduling system or revamp your existing one. Free yourself from worries and allow your organization to run like a well-oiled machine! And that is our scheduling tips will help you achieve.
If you’re not sure what employee scheduling is, it is basically a process that allows you to plan your team’s workflow throughout the day each week, ultimately boosting you toward your career and project goals. At its most basic, you can think of scheduling as a list of the tasks to be done, along with the ‘where, when and by whom’. Sounds tedious, right? But modern employee scheduling software can make this scheduling process much more efficient, saving you time and headaches!
Ready to get started? Take a deep breath, prepare your calendar and clear your mind as we give you the best management tips for using scheduling to get lower labor costs and happier employees!
Why is Effective Scheduling Important?
Effective scheduling is very important because it helps to maximize the most crucial unrenewable resource we are given – time. Some days we want to go home already, some days we wish for extra hours. But we are all given the same 24 hours – whether we like it or not. Our time each day is limited, but we cannot let it limit us.
If you’re already at your wits’ end handling your own calendar, there’s even more on your plate when you’re running a business. You need to schedule your staff’s tasks as well. Your staffing needs depend on the needs of your business at the time. The more employees you have, the more time you may end up coordinating everyone’s schedules!
But that’s exactly the opposite of what an effective schedule is supposed to do. Business scheduling doesn’t have to be a complicated and time-consuming process. By choosing the right scheduling tools, and applying them effectively, you can create a system where the to-do list gets done, and you can finally let go of the urge of burning down your entire office.
Still not convinced? Here are a few more ways that scheduling can help your business:
Scheduling your time makes you more familiar with the task at hand, and strengthens your ‘why’ for doing it. It also helps you to understand each assignment 100%. This results in increased productivity because you are more focused, and gives you a better chance at getting your tasks done and done well.
In sales, for example, ScaleTime has developed an Effective Streamlined Sales Process that will assist you in closing more deals. Organize your proposals and sales leads, and reach new heights with this proven procedure.
Channels positive energy in the team
Is your team consistently burnt out? Are your members feeling lost or annoyed? If you have received a bunch of resignation letters lately, it may not be because of the work itself. You may want to check out the processes involved in doing it. So what’s the answer? Better scheduling, of course!
No solid scheduling equals confused team members which equates to a chaotic working environment. Everyone is asking one another what to do next and this creates an awkward, messy workplace. Learn what structured scheduling system motivates your team. Discover ways to make them happy to work WITH you, not FOR you.
With the pandemic giving way to a new work system, the flextime schedule is now the gold standard as compared to the previous nine-to-five workdays. An increased number of employees are now working from home, working from their own space while tending to their personal and family life. This non-traditional working schedule gives them more control, empowerment, and enjoyment, which brings positive vibes to the team.
Improves long-term process
Planning your time does not delay your future – it pushes you towards it. There are moments where taking time to plan and set up your system is not actually the most effective use of your time. Scheduling may seem like an added weight on your shoulders at the moment, but it’s an investment that will have whopping returns down the road.
Think about training new team leaders: It may seem unimportant right now, but once you have a team of capable staff to turn to, suddenly there is more time for you to focus on other important tasks. Tedious jobs are often the most worthwhile.
With time management, the key is to look at effective scheduling in the bigger picture. Try stepping back and ask yourself. What will be the result of this complex system we are putting in place? If this system is carried out, what will I get from it later? This way, managing time will be a mirror of the vision you are trying to achieve for the entire organization.
How Do You Schedule Time?
Know your available time and honor it
You are not available to work 24/7. You’re only human, and you can only be free for a certain number of hours per day. A smart schedule takes this into account. One of the first steps is to set up an allocated number of hours you’re able to work depending on the goals you wish to achieve.
If you have other things going on outside of work, for example, then normal working hours will be enough for you. If you are dreaming of a promotion, then you may want to put more time into your work as an investment. Be realistic: multitasking your work and personal life can send distracting signals to your brain, causing you to produce low-quality outputs.
Ensure you honor the available time you specified during the making of your schedule. Be early when possible. If your deadline is on the 10th, work as though it’s the 9th. If you are set for an appointment at 1 pm, be there at 12:50.
List priority and non-priority tasks
Once you have set your working hours, start filling up your schedule. Start with the activities on your high-priority list. These should be part of your main duties and responsibilities to complete before anything else. If you manage inventory, for example, then your priority tasks could include creating records of the supplies, updating stock, and ensuring you have enough reserve.
Now that you’ve listed the high-priorities, add in your back-burner tasks. One of the most important scheduling techniques is to put them on your list and schedule in advance. Back-burner tasks aren’t necessarily urgent, but if they’re not done, may affect your whole system. Paying your telephone bill or cleaning your car are low-priority tasks but should be done anyway. Even onboarding new clients, no matter how repetitive it is, is an essential task.
To manage time more efficiently, we created this Client Onboarding Process for you to give your clients a proper welcome, keep your communication up, and make them feel that they are taken care of. When you’re done with ‘organizational socialization,’ learn how to effectively manage your clients to avoid last-minute changes, miscommunication, and even project abandonment. Check it out HERE.
Block your buffer
Buffer time, or contingency time, is based on the anticipated pauses you may have on a regular workday. This gives you the wiggle room to deal with sudden events. Some jobs will have more ‘surprises’ than others. Allocate the appropriate amount of time according to the nature of your work.
Another important tip not only for managing your time but handling life as mature adults too: learning when to say no. Contingency time or not, having power over your schedule means working only within your given time frame. If you’ve already accepted a task but your workday is full, then it is important to get your time back rather than rushing through all the tasks to get everything completed.
Have small breaks throughout the day
Ahh, the best part of scheduling – breaks. No matter what anyone says, breaks are important to refocus and recharge. This cuts down stress and exhaustion, reduces early out from work, and restores the team’s overall game.
Small breaks are meant to refresh, not divert your attention from doing your job. Remove the temptation to procrastinate or browse social media. Encourage your team to use their breaks to move their bodies, reconnect with their colleagues, or clear their minds.
Note that most employees appreciate an official “wrap up” when a project is finished to talk about what worked and what could have been better. Consider a scheduled group celebration after the debriefing, a decision that can foster teamwork and let members relax and have fun at the same time.
Plan your week
Now that you have created your daily work schedule, turn it up a notch by scheduling other days into your calendar in advance. Weekly planning frees you from composing nightly to-do’s for the next day and will also help you meet deadlines thoroughly.
Looking at your energy levels is also an important part of weekly planning. If you’re more active at night, for example, you might need to factor that into your daily and weekly routines. This is a step closer to assuring you’re on track with what you are trying to achieve in the long term.
Another way to become an effective scheduler is to implement weekly staff meetings that go for 30 minutes to an hour tops. Scheduling meetings keep your team members’ attention, highlights key points, and gives way to doing the task itself.
Create a routine
Now that you have created a 7-day schedule, it’s time to fill up the rest of the month. But the planning doesn’t end there. Before you know it, you’ve successfully populated an entire schedule for the year! Scheduling your tasks annually gives you not only consistency but also insight into what you can realistically accomplish.
Scheduling is about keeping your word on things you must and must not do in a particular time frame. You have to be firm and stick to it. If you want more personal time, include that when creating your calendar of activities. Include your personal commitments in a personal calendar. This could include your morning and night regimen: yoga and eating breakfast to start your day; reading a book and preparing your clothes for the next day to end the night. This habit shapes who you are, and may also have a catching effect within your team.
As part of time management, you need to develop a workflow. Why base a routine on a wishy-washy structure when you can optimize your internal and external processes for your team’s growth? Project Management for Agencies is a proven process not just about making a strategy and gathering a group of people. It’s about creating an essential skill that will form your company’s competence, and taking that success into your everyday lives as a team.
More Employee Scheduling Techniques
Implement time blocks
Time blocks are parts of your available time that are segmented for a particular activity or event. It may be business phone calls, a field inspection, checking and replying to your emails, or even running errands like fetching your laundry from the dry cleaner. Time blocks break your schedule down into more practical chunks. If you work visually, then color-coding the blocks on your schedule can help you keep on track.
As a business owner, time blocking with your staff members helps you assess your employee availability and align team calendars for effortless coordinating meetings and projects.
Micro-scheduling tasks are not only limited to professional duties, but to personal life as well. It is an efficient way of segregating your calendar so that you make the most out of each time slot, which is usually one hour to three hours long. This helps you plan ahead and block time for top priority tasks before they are due.
Working in batches is also another productive way to divide your schedule. It is a technique of doing tasks that are relevant to each other for a particular chunk of time. This way, you don’t constantly jump from one task to the other, increasing your productivity by preventing multitasking.
Say, for example, you work from home. You can lump together doing basic tasks like cooking and preparing meals into an hour or two every day. Another block of time then goes to feeding the dog and taking it for a walk outside. Have blocks of time set aside to focus on work, and you save time in the process.
Maximize use of calendar management tools and employee scheduling software
In this day and age, people are more dependent on technology than ever. There’s a good chance your paper planner has already been ditched for a Google Calendar. But today’s scheduling tools go beyond a simple calendar, to offer an excellent experience. You may have trouble selecting which option offers the best and most helpful features, however, as there are so many ones to choose from.
Most managers prefer smart calendars and other software tools that automatically schedule tasks for the week. Make sure you check out how the scheduling app is initially set up, as this will also take time off from your schedule.
Resources are not only comprised of technological advancement and innovative tools. Remember that having the right people is an asset, too! Know what tasks you can outsource and how best to handle employee schedules. Be sure to do so before you need them, and not during, to maintain your buffer and protect your schedule. You’ll want to do your best to schedule staff with different skills so that you always have a strong team of employees working.
Employee scheduling software can also help you balance your full-time employees and part-time workers, so you don’t lose track of who’s doing what. Smart scheduling features can also handle multiple schedules and rearrange tasks automatically when your employee schedule changes. While not always a possibility, the best practice is to schedule employees for their preferred hours.
If you need to balance your books, or you’re having difficulty communicating to 50 existing employees while closing deals with clients, you always have the option to outsource a bookkeeper or a marketing campaign manager. The key is to delegate when needed. Learn how to hire and onboard new employees without the fuss! We provide Hiring Hacks to help you build the perfect team. Click HERE for more details.
Respect your prompts
Often, we set reminders and alarms in order to help us track the time we are spending. A lot of us are guilty of pressing the stop or snooze button when the hour is up and carry on working. Sticky notes often flood our cork board, multicolored markers for whiteboards, and even highlighted notepads – but are they serving their purpose, or are they merely additional decor?
Use your reminders with precision to serve their intent. Use one-liners that will help you understand them in one look, without needing to run through your whole calendar again. Limit your words to a couple of phrases and put the rest of the activity details in a separate attachment to avoid filling up every space with post-its – they’ll only be a distraction!
Avoiding distractions means avoiding procrastination. Identify your biggest distractions and find a way to minimize, if not totally eliminate them. Although chores, TV, children, and neighbors can be a distraction to those working from home, having a workspace separate from all the commotion will be helpful to keep you focused. If all else fails, your friendly neighborhood coffee shop (and a good set of earplugs) might save your schedule from falling apart.
Step back and look at the big picture
At the end of the day, reviewing your schedule, and tasks to complete is helpful for understanding how heavy your commitments are and how much time each one requires. This is also useful to be able to assess your priorities and whether you are still in line with your goals. It could also be a wake-up call to your existing ineffective management process.
Sometimes, 24/7 is not enough for the list you have made, and that means your schedule probably isn’t working for you. Check which activities are really necessary and which can you drop. You don’t have to say yes to every social event or client that comes your way. Your work-life balance, mental health, and physical well-being are all essential to truly reaching your goals.
For small business owners, managing your own schedule and staff scheduling means learning how to take control. Use the scheduling techniques provided here, and be guided by our ScaleMap to know your organization’s status quo and develop your business’ strengths.
Track your schedule and focus on activities that will lead you to your goals by using the ScaleTime Framework and project strategies for agencies. Let us help you do this by setting a Free 20-minute Discovery Session HERE and start focusing on your business’ growth by taking the reins!