How Tech Will Help Your Productivity

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How Tech Will Help Your Productivity

Let’s not beat around the bush. Improving your productivity, using tech or not, takes a lot of hard work and self-discipline.

How many of us can resist responding to a text message? How often do we engage in busy work? And, are we being as active as we should be while working from home?

However, thanks to technology, these are yesterday’s problems. In fact, with tech, you’ll be able to finally become more productive in 2021 and beyond.

Utilize trackers.

People have been tracking their time for centuries. In fact, the oldest record of tracking time for completing work responsibilities was the Code of Hammurabi, dating to about 1754 BC! But I’m referring to more modern time trackers.

As explained previously in another Calendar article, time trackers “shine a light on when you’re most energetic, focused, and motivated.” Furthermore, “they can pinpoint when and where you’re wasting your valuable time.”

These digital tools also run quietly in the background of your computer or phone. “That means they track your time automatically without you even realizing it.” From there, “they analyze the data and make suggestions on where and how to improve,” such as determining when you’re most productive.

While not as ancient as the Code of Hammurabi, time tracking software has been around for years. But, tools like Toggl, RescueTime, Harvest, Timely, Clockify, and Calendar remain invaluable. Considering that your schedule is vastly different from last year, it wouldn’t hurt to utilize time trackers once again.

Already tracked your time? Well, have you tried a fitness tracker?

Whether it’s a FitBit or Apple Watch, fitness bands can help combat the sedentary lifestyle that we’ve been experiencing since COVID-19 struck. In turn, you’ll be healthier, happier, and more energetic. All of which will increase your output.

Get on board with a smart calendar.

As with time trackers, smart calendars aren’t exactly new. I’d even go as far as to say that solutions like Google, Apple, or Microsoft Calendar have become ingrained in your daily life. But have you tried anything beyond the “big three”?

No disrespect to these online calendars. They’re accessible and come loaded with features ranging from finding meeting times to receiving reminders. However, depending on your exact needs, they may not always be the best fit.

For example, if you’ve found that scheduling meetings consume too much of your time, consider Calendar. It uses machine learning to make smart suggestions for future meetings — it can even automatically schedule them for you as well. And, it integrates with your existing calendar, like Apple, Google, and Microsoft, so that you aren’t always bouncing between them.

AI is a new reality.

“Artificial intelligence is real and helping leading-edge companies gain an advantage in the market through improved automation, enhanced decision-making, and improved productivity,” writes Stephen Boals for Accounting Today. “Whether it’s a simple algorithm that enhances reporting, a cloud-based AP automation suite, or an ERP module your accounting department can leverage, AI point solutions are available and built to solve specific business problems.”

In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2024, 69% of routines done by managers will be fully automated. If you don’t want to be left behind, it’s finally time that you improve your workflow automation game. If you need a starting point, Capterra has an extensive list of automation software for you to review.

Declutter your digital workspace (and mind).

As you know, your workspace and environment have a direct influence on your productivity. I mean, it’s near impossible to focus when you have a cluttered desk or noisy background. But, the same is true of your digital workspace.

It may not be on the top of your mind. But, the biggest distractions that you have at work are, in fact, coming from your smartphone notifications and the internet. While you could evaluate and remove time-wasting apps, I’m looking at your social media; you can use the following tools to achieve digital minimalism.

  • Keep your email in check with Sanebox, Unroll.me, and FollowUpThen.
  • For Mac users, there’s Magnet. It keeps your workspace organized by arranging windows into organized tiles. As such, this eliminates switching back and forth between browser tabs and apps.
  • Don’t worry, Chrome users, I’ve got you. Toby is an extension that allows you to organize and manage your browser tabs — you can also share and collaborate with them.
  • Station is another browser extension. It provides a shortcut for all your apps, documents, notes, and messages so that you aren’t switching back and forth.
  • I’m known for jotting down notes. But, all those stickies and notepads can also cause physical clutter. Google Keep solves this problem. You can use it to take photos of whatever you’ve written down, add audio notes, draw, and set reminders.
  • Do you want to reduce screen time and avoid distractions? Apps like Offtime, Freedom, Moment, and FocusMe let you block app notifications and visiting websites at certain times.

Communicate and collaborate with dispersed teams.

Even if you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, you still have to be in-tough with your clients. For businesses, however, working remotely will most likely be the new normal for the foreseeable future. In either case, you need to have the right tools to seamlessly communicate and collaborate.

While Zoom has been the de facto videoconferencing tool, there are others worth considering. These include Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and GoToMeeting. Verizon has also gotten into the game with BlueJeans.

For my money, though, I’m all about Google Meet. It’s much easier to use than Zoom. More importantly, it’s a part of the Google ecosystem. That means I can use one platform for email, scheduling, docs, spreadsheets, notetaking, and there’s even a whiteboard called Jamboard.

Simultaneously, phone and video calls, texts, emails, and Slack messages can be overwhelming. That’s when collaboration tools like Slab, Eloops, Bluescape, and Figma come in handy. You can interact with team members, create and share content, brainstorm, track projects, or host team-building activities virtually.

Stay focused and on track.

Have you ever been zoned in on a task only to have a thought interrupt your flow? It could be to return a phone call, make a dentist appointment, or pursue a business idea. As opposed to stopping in your tracks, just let Alexa or Google Home know. Using your voice, you can create reminders, add events to your calendar, or generate to-dos.

Besides smart devices and home assistants, apps like Forest, Brain.FM, Serene, Noisli, and [email protected] can keep you focused and motivated. And, if stress or anxiety has gotten the best of you– Calm, Headspace, and Rain, Rain was designed for meditation and relaxation.

Make the shift to 5G.

For roughly the last year, telcos has been updating their infrastructure to 5G to deliver faster internet speeds. More recently, both Google and iPhone have unveiled 5G phones. But, what exactly is 5G and how can you make the shift?

“It’s not simply another ‘G,’ as it has been in previous generations,” explains Amol Phadke, global network practice lead at Accenture. “It has the potential to completely disrupt the way we work and live.”

“The speed of the connection will bring the biggest change by far,” says Carsten Schaefer, founder and CEO at crowdy.ai. “Given how amazingly fast the Internet connection is, it will make work much more efficient.” That may make downloading files faster, but there are additional benefits. For example, this technology can detect malfunctions before they occur, which will reduce downtime.

Moreover, 5G will improve remote work. For instance, it will drastically improve videoconferences. It can also speed up real-time collaboration or provide VR training and mentorship.

However, to tap into the potential of 5G, you need to make sure that your phone and carrier support it. It’s a little foggy right now. The Galaxy S 20 5G, the iPhone 12, and the Pixel 4a 5G are described as 5G.

As for coverage, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all provide maps on where 5G is available. Not all of them are straightforward. But, you can expect more coverage as 2021 rolls on.

Schedule telehealth appointments.

When you aren’t feeling 100%, either mentally pr physically, your productivity stifles. But, the link between health and productivity hasn’t exactly been a secret. What has changed, though, is how more accessible healthcare has become in response to COVID-19.

To limit potential exposure and address mental health concerns like isolation, virtual care visits have skyrocketed. For example, in the first week of March 2020, there was a 154% increase in telehealth visitsForrester Research anticipates that in early 2021, U.S. virtual care visits will almost reach a billion.

Specifically, Forrester expects one-third of virtual care visits to be for mental health. In fact, this will account for 31% of all virtual care visits this year.

With telehealth literally at your fingertips, there’s no excuse to schedule anything from a checkup with your physician to weekly sessions with a mental health professional. When you do, you’ll be healthier, happier, and more productive.

How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

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How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

You know all about the workday marathon. You finish with one work meeting, and then you have to sprint over to the next meeting. You may even end the first meeting early just to get to the second one on time. The situation certainly isn’t ideal. 

In fact, this kind of terrible time management can cause all kinds of problems. It leaves too little room for error and causes unnecessary stress.

How you schedule your meetings will determine how successfully you’re using your time. If you schedule back-to-back meetings, you’re making your life harder than it needs to be. Thankfully, there are things you can do to change this. The following tips will help you alter your meeting habits for the better. 

Add Buffer Time Between Meetings

The first thing you should do to prevent work meeting overlap is to add buffer time to your schedule. A few minutes between meetings will give you some time to catch your breath after you dash from one to another.

Sitting through the end of a meeting knowing you’re going to be late for the next one is incredibly stressful. You’re more likely to be distracted, and you may even miss important information. Plus, a presenter can tell when you’re itching to leave.

Then there are the concerns about the second meeting. Tardiness is often seen as inconsiderate. If it’s a meeting with the boss, you certainly don’t want to look bad.

It’s much better to be safe than sorry. Build-in buffer time even if you don’t think you need it. 

Plan for Longer Work Meetings

Don’t be afraid to schedule a bit more time than you actually need when organizing a meeting. Take a training meeting, for example. You can’t predict exactly how many questions employees and new hires will have during the event in question. It’s best to get all questions answered rather than cut the discussion short. 

To be clear, this should be separate from adding buffer time. Buffer time gives you what you need to get to and from appointments. Planning for longer meetings also helps other employees manage their schedules. 

Basically, this means scheduling an hour and a half for a meeting, even if you think it’ll take an hour. After that 90 minute block, you’ll still want an additional buffer of 10 minutes. After all, nature could be calling by then. 

Evaluate Your Meeting Locations

Your work meetings’ locations have as much of an impact as when they’re scheduled. For example, you might need to take a long-time client or a group of investors to lunch one day. You’ll need a lot more buffer time if you have another meeting scheduled back at the office afterward. 

This won’t be as much of an issue if most of your meetings are online. However, you’ll still need to keep location in mind. Small relocations, like going from the conference room to your office to set up a Zoom call, can still take time. After all, technology can be unpredictable, and you might need the extra time to fix your mic or hunt down a presentation. 

Prepare Meeting Agendas in Advance

Just as important as planning the times of your meetings is planning their content. You’ll find that meetings run a lot more smoothly when there’s an agenda to follow. Use your online calendar to set a reminder to make an agenda before every planned meeting.

If you’re attending a meeting rather than leading it, ask the host for an agenda. This might prompt them to make one if they haven’t already. This small request can help ensure that meetings go efficiently, even when you’re not in control. 

Keep the Number of Meetings to a Minimum

Did you know that the average employee is wasting 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings? Think of all the things you and your team could accomplish with those lost hours. How can you reclaim that time? By identifying and cutting out unnecessary meetings.

Deciding which meetings to keep can be a challenge. Start by asking yourself a series of questions. Can everything you plan to say in this meeting be written in an email? Are these meetings actually just a way to micromanage others? After some introspection, you should be able to clear your calendar of at least a few meetings. 

Internal communication platforms should keep the need for formal meetings to a minimum. Individual questions can be sent through direct messages. Plus, project management software allows you to give plenty of instructions for specific tasks. 

Avoid Last-Second Meetings

Sometimes a last-minute meeting pops up, and you’ve got no choice but to drop everything and go. However, when you can avoid last-second meetings, you should. Nothing will clog up your schedule more than an unexpected meeting. Trying to squeeze it in between your previously scheduled commitments is just asking for trouble.

If someone requests a meeting with you for the same day, take a look at your calendar before saying yes. Look for a clear opening in your schedule. If there isn’t time for a couple of days, see if that time frame would work for the other person. Very rarely will you actually have to fit in a last-second meeting. It’s always easier to negotiate a meeting time than to reschedule existing commitments. 

Schedule Blocks of Time Without Meetings

If meetings start to overwhelm you, schedule some times where you won’t allow meetings to take place. This will ensure that you can get some actual work done. If you know when you’re most productive, you can schedule this time accordingly. For example, some people do their best work early in the morning. If that describes you, it’s best to block off that time for your own work.

Some people prefer to have all their meetings on one day. Then they have the rest of their week for other work. Others like to keep their meetings spread apart so that they never run too closely together. Whatever your preference, make sure to designate some time away from the meeting room when you can. 

Meetings are an important aspect of any business, but they can take over your professional life if you let them. Finding the right approach to organizing your meetings will keep you from becoming stressed. Open up your calendar now and start making the adjustments you need for smooth sailing at work. 

How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health

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How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health

Your most important asset isn’t your car, your house, or even your professional expertise; it’s your mental health.

The rest of your life relies on your mental wellbeing. Especially while the world is facing COVID-19, you have to protect it with every tool available to you — including your online calendar.

What Your Calendar Can Do for You

Your online calendar can’t change your mental state by itself, but it can help you implement and maintain healthier habits. You might be surprised at just how much your mental health improves when you:

1. Schedule Breaks

Going full-throttle all day, every day is exhausting. If you don’t permit yourself to take a step back, you may begin to burn out. Scheduling short breaks throughout your day can help you stay productive without getting overwhelmed.

It can be tough to take breaks when things are hectic. That’s where your online calendar comes in: If it never seems like a good time to take a break, schedule one every few hours. Your calendar can be set to remind you 10 minutes before it’s time, letting you wrap up what you’re working on.

2. Take a Mental Health Day

Frequent breaks throughout the day are helpful, but sometimes you need a full day to yourself. Although it’s best to schedule mental health days for weekends, don’t be afraid to talk with your employer if you need one stat.

Once you’ve decided on the right day, add it to your calendar. Either put together an itinerary for yourself — replete with food and fun activities — or give yourself an unstructured day. There’s no wrong way to do it!

3. Remind You to Move

Regular exercise is tightly correlated with better mental health. Physical activity feels good, takes your mind off your stressors, and gives you something to do with friends.

Why not use your online calendar to put together a workout schedule? That way, you don’t have to decide at the moment whether or not you want to work out — and if so, what exercises you’ll do. After a few days, physical activity will be just another part of your daily routine.

If you’d rather attend fitness classes or play a team sport, your online calendar is also a great place to record those sessions. Add other attendees to the event to create some positive social pressure.

4. Set and Achieve Goals

Setting goals gives us something to work toward, and achieving them provides a sense of fulfillment. That’s why many experts recommend goal-setting for both mental wellbeing and productivity.

Goals should be:

  • Specific: What, exactly, do you want to achieve? Instead of becoming happier, maybe you want to have five low-stress days each week.
  • Measurable: If your goals aren’t measurable, you’ll never know whether or not you’ve met them.
  • Achievable: There’s no sense in setting a goal you have no hope of achieving. Shoot too high, and you’ll only discourage yourself.
  • Relevant: If your priority is your mental health, your goal shouldn’t be to get a promotion. Do you really need more responsibilities at work right now?
  • Time-bounded: A goal without a time horizon attached is just hope. When is a challenging but realistic amount of time for achieving your goal?

5. Schedule Affirmations

Self-affirmations are mantras designed to encourage during moments of hardship. They take little time to say but can deliver big mental health benefits.

Even something short, such as “I won’t give up,” can do wonders when you’re feeling down. Repeat them as often as needed. If you worry about others judging you for talking to yourself, step into a private space.

6. Start a Journal

Sometimes, a little self-reflection is all it takes to get yourself to a better mental state. Remind yourself that if you’re looking for reasons to be sad, you’ll find them. Looking for the good instead can help you see things from a more positive perspective.

Journaling doesn’t take hours to work its magic. Start with a five-minute session: Add a reminder to your calendar to reflect on something that makes you happy. Soon, you’ll be reminding yourself to save your gratitude journaling for the time slot you selected.

7. Eat Well

The food we eat directly affects our emotional state. Eating a healthy, balanced diet ensures our brain has the nutrition it needs to be at its best.

Online calendars are ideal tools for meal planning. Mapping out what you’re going to eat makes it easier to stick to a diet or, perhaps, more importantly, limit the unhealthy foods you spoil yourself with.

8. Get Into a Groove

Adding structure to your life helps you feel in control. While scheduling every minute of your day isn’t always necessary, using your calendar to establish a healthy routine is critical. Moving forward with your routine can give you a sense of optimism even when the odds are stacked against you.

A good place to start is a morning routine: What do you need to be your happiest, most productive self at work? Routines are also important for other times of day, such as bedtime: How do you prefer to wind down, especially when you have a lot on your mind?

You have to make your mental health a priority because no one else will. Think through what you need to take care of yourself, and use your online calendar to make it happen. Remind yourself — as often and in as many ways as you can — that you deserve to be happy.

Troubleshooting Automated Appointment System Complaints

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Troubleshooting Automated Appointment System Complaints

The benefits of automated appointment software are undeniable. Unfortunately, implementing a new system often comes with some bumps in the road. Setting up and then forgetting your new software may end up driving away customers.

If complaints arise, don’t just resort to tossing out coupons as a way to appease customers. Instead, develop a troubleshooting system that uncovers the root of the problem and leads you to solutions. 

Troubleshooting can be a frustrating and arduous process. Here’s how to make yours as painless and efficient as possible in order to help every one of your customers.

Identify the Problem’s Source

The first step is to determine if the complaint stems from an operator error or a system error. Operator errors can often be resolved with some top-notch customer service. System errors, on the other hand, require a bit more information and a hands-on approach.

How can you tell if the problem is a user error or an actual problem with your system? Start by focusing on the language. For example, a complaint might be “couldn’t fill out customer information lines.” At first blush, this might sound like an operator error. But if your form’s lines are too short to accommodate a longer surname, or the “Submit” button didn’t do anything, that’s a system fix that needs to be addressed. 

Don’t forget that some complaints may come from a system error that only occurs on the customer’s end. Someone loading your website with a computer from the ’90s may get a system error because of the outdated equipment. 

Improve the Resources for Customers

Even if your digging has unveiled an operator error, don’t blame the customer for their mistake. Instead, think of how to prevent future customers from experiencing the same confusion. 

For example, maybe a common customer complaint is that the instructions aren’t clear on your automated appointment system. Visitors get lost trying to follow steps and end up leaving in frustration. What can you do to improve their experience?

Perhaps a short video walking customers through your online appointment software will do the trick. Struggling customers can follow along with video instructions to make their first experience using new software a seamless one. 

Take Your System on a Test Drive

When was the last time you tested your online appointment software? The occasional test run will show you firsthand if there’s an obvious problem that customers are running into. You might even find that you fall victim to the same user error as everyone else.

Log on to your website as a guest. Better yet, get a friend or family member who’s less familiar with your system to go through the site. Does the functionality problem the customer mentioned happen to your friend? Or was it a one-time deal? 

If everything seems to be going smoothly, you should still adjust your approach and try a couple more times. You need to discover whether you can recreate the circumstances behind the system complaint. 

A good mechanic will do the same thing when you take your car in for a repair. They’ll take a test drive to recreate the noise you described when you dropped off the car. If you experience the same error as your customer, you’ll validate their complaint. It will also give you a better idea of what needs to be fixed. 

Look for Response Trends

You’ll get more insights from looking at response trends than fixating on individual complaints. Individual complaints may lead to band-aid fixes. Overall trends can help you find permanent solutions. 

Data is your best friend when you’re compiling and analyzing customer complaints. It allows you to connect the dots between isolated incidents. Once you find a pattern, you’ll have a better idea of where to focus your attention. Maybe you can even find the source from which all complaints stemmed. 

For example, you may find that a number of complaints boil down to poor loading speeds on your website. This could be a helpful discovery. It may be that your website has been struggling to process the load of your new online appointment system. With that info, you’ll be able to get the problem fixed in no time.

Look Into Your Back End

There’s a lot under the surface of your online appointment system. Unfortunately, understanding it all may be a little out of your wheelhouse. That’s especially true if you’re an entrepreneur outsourcing labor for your website. The good news is that your website developers should be able to do the heavy lifting for you. 

Get on a call with your vendor and discuss the nature of the complaint with them. They should be able to figure out what’s causing the customer’s problem and find a backend solution. In this scenario, you’re the intermediary between the customer and the techies who have the fix. 

Follow Up With Customers

When you’ve settled on a solution, follow up on its implementation. There’s no point troubleshooting complaints if you’re not planning to fix them. 

Following up with customers can accomplish a lot. For one, it shows them that you genuinely care about their experience with your company. It might even save you from losing them. After all, reaching back out to the customer encourages them to give your appointment software a second chance.

A simple email letting customers know that their complaint has been addressed will often be enough. When things really go wrong, though, you may want to call the customer. Thank them for bringing the problem to your attention. They’ll appreciate the courtesy and the resolution you came up with. 

Ready, aim, and troubleshoot your way to customer service excellence. Your effort to help every customer will make your business shine. Soon you’ll optimize your automated appointment system to the point that most complaints disappear.

Host a Successful Yard Sale With Your Online Calendar

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Host a Successful Yard Sale With Your Online Calendar

We’re back in the office and we need to dejunk to get a fresh start. Most homes need a little dejunking too. Yard sales are an American staple. They’re a fun way to get rid of some excess belongings while turning a quick profit. However, yard sales are hard work and require a fair amount of time and effort to pull off.

Using an online calendar makes organizing a yard or garage sale that much easier. Planning things out will help them run more smoothly, leading to a more successful experience. This guide will help you put together the best yard sale in town:

1. Schedule Your Dates

The first step toward a successful yard sale is pinning down your dates. This will get your plans in motion under a set time parameter. Everything else will be so much easier if you know exactly when your yard sale will be.

Weekends are generally the best time for yard sales because more people are free to come and visit. The summer months have a little more flexibility, as families with kids out of school will be looking for extra activities through the week to fill their time. Once you’ve selected the days and times you want, it’s time to move to the next step.

2. Organize a WorkForce

You need manpower to run a successful yard sale. The larger the sale, the more help you’ll need. Using an online calendar you can schedule shifts for friends and family to help make sales and manage merchandise for your own little pop-up shop.

For those outside of your household or your office team who are pitching in to help, you can share your online calendar. Your Calendar will let them know the exact times of the yard sale and when you’re hoping they can come help out. With an online calendar, your scheduling is a smooth operation.

3. Leverage Social Media

Getting the word out about your yard sale is key to its success. After all, without customers, your efforts will be in vain. In today’s world, one of the easiest ways to reach people is through social media.

Use your online calendar to plan out a content calendar for social media posts advertising your yard sale. Schedule posts throughout each day of the sale to maximize exposure over as many platforms as possible. People scrolling through news feeds will see your post and be prompted to make a visit.

4. Include the Neighbors

To ramp up the scale of your yard sale, ask your neighbors if they’d like to be included. Even if they only have a few items to contribute, they can provide an extra set of hands and can further spread the word about the event. The bigger and better the event is, the more worthwhile it is for customers to stop in.

Once again, you can share that online calendar to sync schedules with anyone who’s interested. Even just making them aware of the yard sale can be of benefit, as word of mouth can lure in more prospective buyers.

5. Allow for Prep Time

A yard sale doesn’t set itself up. Before you open your doors, or lawn, to the public, everything needs to be in its proper place. Otherwise, the early birds who select you as their first stop of the day won’t be able to fully participate in your yard sale.

Schedule preparation time in your online calendar. You can prepare a lot of things in the days leading up to the sale, and will also need some time the day of to get everything arranged. Decide how much time you need and use your online calendar to make it happen.

6. Plan a Cleaning Day

You might already have a pile of stuff dedicated to your yard sale. If not, or if you want to expand your inventory, plan a deep cleaning day. Throughout this clean, look for other items you don’t mind letting go of to add to the pile.

Periodic deep cleans get rid of the clutter that so frequently fills American homes and offices. This will not only help your current yard sale efforts, but it will also help you feel like your home and office are much more open and clean, making it a more comfortable living and working space.

7. Provide Refreshments

For the most memorable yard sale experience, provide refreshments to all your guests. You can offer some simple free beverages, or let the kids set up a lemonade stand or snack shop to earn a little change themselves.

Providing refreshments will require some prep of its own. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need for whatever you supply. Then, use your online calendar to remind you to restock throughout the yard sale so there’s always something available for customers.

8. Scope Out Other Yard Sales

If you’re still looking for a way to set yourself apart, scope out some other sales happening in your area. You can look for postings in the newspaper and online to find places to go. Seeing a yard sale from the perspective of a customer will help you know what you should include in your own.

Plan a day or two to go sale hopping. Add the times and locations of sales into your online calendar so you can make time for the trip and plot the best route. You can learn a lot from what you see, so be sure to take notes.

9. Schedule a Day to Donate

When it’s all said and done, you probably won’t have sold every single item from your yard sale. Instead of packing these things back into storage to sit for another year or throwing them out, seriously consider donating them to charity. There are plenty of individuals and families that would be grateful for such a gift.

Research local charities and organizations in your area. Once you’ve selected one, plan a day in your online calendar to drop off the remaining items from your yard sale. This will be the perfect end to your hard work and efforts.

A successful yard sale will depend on the work you put into it. Follow these tips and get excited for a great time and you won’t be disappointed.

Best Appointment Scheduling Software: 7 Apps for Business Scheduling

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A person manually setting up appointments without any of the best appointment scheduling software.

It isn’t fun to manually set up schedules, follow up with appointments, handle emergency bookings, and skim several calendars to see appointment dates. 

Creating manual appointments can cause you to lose customers and set back your business growth because your scheduling processes are all over the place. 

It gets worse if you continue to do this day in and day out every week.

What if you could streamline your appointment workflow in minutes, book customers faster, and make more money?  

The best appointment scheduling software streamlines bookings, messaging, payments, and other business scheduling. These booking systems help automate repetitive appointment processes and free up time so you can focus on your zone of genius.

Think of an appointment scheduler as your low-cost, super-efficient virtual assistant who doesn’t take breaks but continuously sets up meetings with your customers. It’s a must-have for all business processes and appointment types for an easier booking experience.

Here’s what you’ll find in this guide:

Appointment Scheduling Apps: Definition and Uses

What To Consider When Choosing Appointment Scheduling Software

Best Appointment Scheduling Software

  1. Appointment.com
  2. Calendar.com
  3. HubSpot Meetings
  4. Appointy
  5. Acuity Scheduling
  6. Calendly
  7. Chili Piper

Final Thoughts: The 7 Best Appointment Scheduling Software

Appointment Scheduling Apps: Definition and Uses

Appointment scheduling apps are a solution to manual tasks and processes for booking appointments. With these appointment schedulers, you can automate scheduling processes such as: 

  • Booking
  • Rescheduling
  • Cancellation
  • Follow-ups
  • Payments 

Your customers and prospects can access your appointment scheduling software through a simple URL and book meetings themselves. You can share the scheduling link to your booking page via e-mail and social media, or you can embed an appointment widget on your website and other business pages. 

Booking services has never been easier. An appointment scheduler erases the need for the tedious appointment setup, human error, and back-and-forth communications that characterize manual appointments. 

Appointment scheduling applications empower your clients to choose a time and date most suitable to them while letting you input your available hours. Your clients can book their own appointments without overbooking and stretching you thin. 

The Benefits of Appointment Booking Software 

A person looking at a computer screen reading the best appointment scheduling software reviews.

Here are some of the advantages of using appointment booking apps:

  • Online appointment scheduling software reduces the length of your sales cycle
  • Provides a better booking experience
  • The best appointment schedulers ensure you get paid faster
  • Enables your customers to self-schedule or adjusts their bookings
  • Reduces the number of no shows
  • Appointment schedulers eliminate manual tasks and stressful marketing
  • Prevents overbooking and scheduling errors
  • Provides automation to follow-up with customers
  • Saves you time, energy, and customers
  • Gives you the space to focus on your zone of genius

What To Consider When Choosing Appointment Scheduling Software

The best appointment scheduling software solutions have certain features that cut across them. Here are the five features you should look out for when choosing an appointment scheduling app for your business. 

Calendar Syncing

Calendar syncing is one of the most common features of the best appointment scheduling software. It’s essential to integrate your scheduler with your personal and work calendars. 

Calendar sync increases your efficiency by conserving your energy and saving time. This feature enables you to view your business appointments alongside your personal to-dos and holidays at a glance. 

Check for software that syncs to your Google calendar, iCal, or Outlook. It can be tedious opening one calendar after the other to see when you have appointments. 

Flexibility

Companies often have different appointment scheduling needs depending on their business type and niche.

The best appointment scheduling software solutions consider the versatility of the business world by offering several customization options. Some of these booking apps even create tailored interfaces to suit specific types of services. 

Understand your business’s scheduling needs before you invest in any appointment scheduler, as this will help you know what customizations your business processes need. Then, look for the appointment booking app that matches those needs. 

A person looking at their scheduling needs to determine the best appointment scheduling software for her business.

Easy Access

Your clients need to access your appointment scheduler from anywhere. Go for the best appointment scheduling software that provides multiple access points. 

Ideally, your appointment scheduler should provide a sharing link, integrate with social media platforms and messaging channels, and have website embed functions.

Payment Processing

One of the simplest ways to grow your revenue is to set up an easy online payment system. 

The best appointment scheduling software empowers you to automate payments alongside bookings so your customers can use a credit card or merchant website like Paypal to pay you quickly and easily. 

To reduce financial and time losses, you can have customers pay at the point of sale before the appointment kicks off.

Reminder Settings

Life gets busy, and so do people. Your customers will most likely have other things besides your meeting on their minds. That’s why you should send a reminder ahead of your meeting time to minimize the number of no-shows and emergency rescheduling.

This can be a hassle if you have to send follow-up messages every time you get booked manually. 

The best appointment scheduling software automates reminders, so your meeting attendees are always aware of their appointment time and date beforehand. 

Best Appointment Scheduling Software

  1. Appointment.com
  2. Calendar.com
  3. HubSpot Meetings
  4. Appointy
  5. Acuity Scheduling
  6. Calendly
  7. Chili Piper

Based on several appointment scheduling software reviews and features we analyzed, we’ve rounded up seven of the best appointment scheduling software you can use for your business. 

While the functions and pricing of these app schedulers vary depending on the businesses they support, your choice ultimately depends on your budget, business type, online booking needs, and marketing strategy.  

Here’s the breakdown of the seven best appointment scheduling software:

1. Appointment

Appointment.com is one of the best appointment scheduling software you’ll find online. This scheduler has been satisfying the appointment needs of various business types since 1999. 

The best part of Appointment.com’s software is that you don’t need a website or to install the app or sign any contracts before you start booking clients

So, whether you own a coaching business, health club, or tanning salon, Appointment.com has an appointment solution tailored to your unique requirements.

With Appointment.com, customers new and old can book an appointment with you whenever they want, be it day or night. They can also cancel and reschedule appointments themselves. 

An advantage of using Appointment.com so your customers can book appointments on their own is that it allows you to grow your customer base cost-effectively. 

Key features of Appointment.com:

  • Fast set up in minutes
  • Appointment book and scheduler
  • Full-fledged customization options
  • Gift cards and a tracking system
  • Syncs with calendars like Outlook, Google Calendar, and iCal
  • Appointment reminders and waitlists
  • Multiple locations, departments, and categories management
  • SSL encryption for customer transactions
  • Powerful API that allows for smooth integration with other systems
  • Extensive business analytics
  • Supports payments through PayPal
  • Compatible with any device
  • Free coaching call

Best appointment scheduling software for: Small businesses, both service providers and product sellers.

Price: Free 30-day trial. Plans start at $29/month (pay-as-you-go, monthly, and yearly plans available).

2. Calendar.com

Calendar

Calendar.com is a low-cost option among the best appointment scheduling software. It’s an effective bookable calendar and time management solution for solopreneurs and small teams.

Calender.com is an AI digital calendar that syncs across several devices that empowers you to plan bookings, events, time, and scheduling changes in a single dashboard view quickly and easily.

Key features of Calendar.com:

  • Lets you know when other Calendar users are available and create events around their availability
  • Analytics so you know how you spend your time
  • Support for teams
  • AI-powered — the software learns your schedule and customizes your experience over time
  • Supports Gmail, Office 365, and Outlook
  • Web embedding with white labeling
  • More than 2,000 app integrations with Zapier
  • Access to 24/7 support from the help center
  • Automated email notifications
  • Scheduling time slots
  • Shared and sub-calendars
  • Excellent user interface 
  • Available for mobile devices on the Google Play and Apple app stores 

Best appointment scheduling software for: Freelancers and small businesses looking for an effective, low-budget scheduling solution.

Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $6/month when billed annually. 

`3. HubSpot Meetings

HubSpot Meetings is a free scheduling tool that has what you need to take your hands off manual appointment scheduling. It’s completely free and one of the best appointment scheduling software you can use for your business.

HubSpot Meetings’ scheduling app empowers you to add form fields to your meeting page to collect important contact details, such as names, email addresses, and phone numbers. It’s an all-in-one field service management app that captures lead and customer data for future marketing outreach.

HubSpot Meetings integrates directly with HubSpot’s free CRM software and automatically creates records for new contacts so you can monitor and manage your appointments. You can also automatically log call recordings directly to your CRM.

Key features of HubSpot Meetings:

  • Syncs to Google Calendar and Office 365
  • Unlimited bookings
  • Round-robin meeting links that connect you or your sales rep to your prospects
  • Group meeting availability
  • Support for custom domains
  • Direct meeting scheduling
  • Video conferencing software integrations
  • Automated follow-ups
  • Automatic integration with HubSpot CRM

Best appointment scheduling software for: Businesses (small, medium, or enterprise) looking for a free, reliable appointment scheduling solution.

Price: Free 

4. Appointy

Appointy

Appointy is the best appointment scheduling software for you if you own a brick-and-mortar business. It makes it a breeze for companies with physical stores — in any industry — to book appointments while adhering to any applicable social distancing guidelines.

Whether you want to schedule appointments, resources, workshops, classes, events, or tours, Appointy will fulfill scheduling demands with its custom-made features.

Key features of Appointy:

  • Multi-channel bookings on platforms such as your website, Facebook, and Instagram
  • Group scheduling 
  • Zapier integration
  • Integrates with multiple payment apps, including Square, PayPal, and Authorize.net
  • Automatic reminders
  • Syncs with personal and work calendars, such as Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook 
  • Integrates with video conferencing apps
  • Fair usage policy limit of 2,000 appointments a day
  • Unique subdomain

Best appointment scheduling software for: Brick-and-mortar business owners looking for an appointment solution that adheres to social distancing regulations.

Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $19.99/month when billed annually.

5. Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling, owned by Squarespace, takes out the stress and delays of manual appointment scheduling.

Acuity Scheduling is another one of the best appointment scheduling software because it lets you book appointments with clients in a way that allows them to see your real-time availability. This scheduling app also empowers you to send customized follow-ups.

Key features of Acuity Scheduling:

  • Accepts payments through Stripe, Square, and Paypal
  • Integrates with Zoom, Google Meet, and GoToMeeting
  • Integrates with 2,000+ other apps through Zapier
  • Syncs with Google Calendar, iCloud, Outlook, Exchange, and Office 365
  • Lets you offer coupons and discount vouchers
  • Optional support for client tips 
  • HIPAA-compliant for top-notch privacy
  • Integrates with Google Analytics
  • Integrates with QuickBooks and Freshbooks for invoicing and accounting

Best appointment scheduling software for: Businesses that want scheduling customization that fits their branding.

Price: Free 7-day trial. Plans start at $14/month when billed annually.

6. Calendly

Calendly

Calendly is one of the best appointment scheduling software that empowers you to connect your calendar and book unlimited meetings.

With Calendly, simply set up your schedule and automation, share your link, get booked, and it will automatically send out email notifications and reminders to clients who book with you.

Key features of Calendly:

  • Automates reminders and follow-ups
  • Automatic “thank you” notes
  • Connects to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and GoToMeeting
  • Unlimited appointment and one-off meetings
  • Custom branded pages
  • Payment processes with Stripe and Paypal (Pro and Enterprise plans only) 
  • Webhooks automatically send updates to connected apps
  • Custom email and SMS notifications
  • Connects to Mailchimp, HubSpot, and Intercom
  • Tracks with Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics
  • Connects to Google Calendar, Office 365, Outlook, and iCloud
  • Available on both web and mobile apps (iOS and Android)

Best appointment scheduling software for: Individuals, small teams, and enterprises looking for low-cost customization and advanced features.

Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $8/month when billed annually.

7. Chili Piper

Chili Piper

Chili Piper is an effective scheduler designed to help B2B brands book meetings in one click and send automatic updates to their CRMs.

Chili Piper is one of the best appointment scheduling software that eliminates manual tasks and makes bookings and rescheduling easy. It also enables you to schedule multi-person meetings and hold conversations with ready leads in real-time.

With Chili Piper, when you send emails to clients, instead of adding a link to a landing page where they look through your calendar, you can add buttons for them to book meetings with a single click.

Key features of Chill Piper:

  • Instant web form scheduling
  • One-click booking
  • Flexible round-robin scheduling
  • Unlimited event types
  • Calendar integrations with Google Calendar, Office 365, and Outlook
  • Handoff meetings
  • Automated emails, email signatures, and SMS reminders
  • Automatic lead routing to CRM
  • Embeds within website
  • Group meetings coordinated using multiple calendars
  • Instant Booker plugin to schedule appointments from your sales tools
  • Tracks meetings, no shows, reschedules, and cancellations in your CRM
  • Team meeting templates and reminders

Best appointment scheduling software for: B2B brands and companies looking to schedule multi-person meetings at once.

Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $15 per user per month when billed annually (Instant Booker package).

Final Thoughts: The 7 Best Appointment Scheduling Software

As a solopreneur, small team, or large enterprise looking to book more customers and expand your business, you need an appointment scheduler to sharpen your functionality.

While manual appointment scheduling can cause you to burn out, lose customers, create errors, and ultimately lose your vibe, online scheduling software is the virtual assistant you need to book more clients with ease.

If you’re not using an online appointment scheduler, choose the one that suits your business and scheduling needs from our list of the seven best appointment scheduling software.

Ready to book more clients quickly and efficiently? Try Appointment free for 30 days.

Don’t Be Busy. Be Present

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Don’t Be Busy. Be Present

From the moment your alarm jolts you from a dream to when your head hits the pillow at night — your day is non-stop. Between all of your work and personal responsibilities — you somehow have to squeeze in one day, you’re “busy.”

Take a second to think — this may not be the way to live. It’s an idea that Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard explored in his 1843 treatise Either/Or: A Fragment of Life by writing, “Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be someone who is brisk about their food and work.”

“Therefore, whenever I see a fly settling, in the decisive moment, on the nose of such a person of affairs, or if he is spattered with mud from a carriage which drives past him in still greater haste, he adds. “Or the drawbridge opens up before him, or a tile falls down and knocks him dead, then I laugh heartily.”

In short, Kierkegaard’s response to the “busy” individual was to laugh at them. That may sound mean-spirited. But he may have been on to something here.

Don’t Be Busy. Be Present.

To be busy and productive feels great, but people who have to fill every waking moment with something — anything — even if it’s unimportant are the ones who are not present. For some, frantic busyness provides an escape. Others, however, seem to belong to a cult of busyness.

Interested in this phenomenon, researchers from Columbia University, Harvard, and Georgetown explored why we’re so impressed with being busy.

“In general, we found that the busy person is perceived as high status, and interestingly, these status attributions are heavily influenced by our own beliefs about social mobility,” wrote the authors Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia, and Anat Keinan. “In other words, the more we believe that one has the opportunity for success based on hard work, the more we tend to think that people who skip leisure and work all the time are of higher standing.”

The problems with being too busy.

Are there obligations that must be met? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean you have to be doing something constantly.

It’s been found that being a member of “the cult of busy” creates a chronic stress response in your body and mind. As a consequence, you might experience symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal discomforts. You’re also asking for possible cardiac issues as well.

But, it’s not merely our physical well-being that we’re putting in harm’s way. There’s also a link between stress and depression. Additionally, relationships and work performance suffer too.

Specifically, when you’re busy, you’re;

  • Not giving essential tasks and relationships you’re undivided attention.
  • Missing out on new opportunities
  • Not effectively prioritizing your time.
  • Making excuses for actual problems.
  • Forgetting about your “why” and self-care.
  • Aren’t working to your full potential.
  • Failing to set healthy boundaries which can lead to burnout.
  • Not giving yourself time to think, reflect, and dream.

In other words, being busy negatively affects every part of your life. As such, it’s time to leave this cult. And, you can make that possible by focusing on the present instead.

Don’t ignore the past and future.

Let’s be real here. Living in the moment is a formidable force. And, you can thank evolution for that.

“Human psychology is evolutionarily hard-wired to live in the past and the future,” explains Eyal Winter Ph.D. “Other species have instincts and reflexes to help with their survival, but human survival relies very much on learning and planning.”

“You can’t learn without living in the past,” adds Dr. Winter. And “you can’t plan without living in the future.”

Rather than trying to shut out the past or future completely, find a healthy balance. For example, you could reflect on a past accomplishment or mistake during your morning or evening routine. If you’re worried or anxious about a future event, jot it down and develop a plan of action.

Most importantly, take and do these new actions in small steps and small doses. Personally, I allocate no more than 15-minutes of worrying time per day. During this time, I get all of these thoughts out of my head and organize them for later so that I can focus on the task at hand. You may need a little longer — but too much time worrying can easily overwhelm some people.

Fewer, but better.

As I’ve already said. There are responsibilities that you must follow through with. However, most of the items on your to-do lists could probably be removed. Maybe that’s why 41% of to­-do items are never completed.

The fix? Do less.

That may sound easier said than done. But, it’s possible to use techniques like the Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 Rule.

“The Pareto Principle is a concept that suggests two out of ten items, on any general to-do list, will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together,” clarifies Brian Tracy.

“The sad fact is that most people procrastinate on the top 10 or 20 percent of items that are the most valuable and important,” which is known as the “vital few. Instead, they “busy themselves” with the least important 80 percent, aka the “trivial many.”

You can encourage this by;

  • Simplifying your to-do lists with the Eisenhower Matrix. You can also try mapping out your main priority, 3 medium priorities, and 5 smaller to-dos.
  • Tracking your time so that you dedicate the right amount of time to complete your most important tasks.
  • Restructuring your routine so that you’re working on your MITs when you’re most productive.
  • Training yourself to bolster skills like concentration.
  • Thinking beyond work. Following the 80/20 Rule will allow you to pursue other interests outside of the workplace that can make you healthier and happier.

Consider the opportunity cost.

The opportunity cost is often used when making a financial or investment decision. In a nutshell, it’s determining the return you’ll receive from each option you’re weighing.

For example, you decide to spend $2000 on a new Macbook. While you now have a new laptop, you also can’t put that money towards something more beneficial in the long run — such as making sure your emergency fund is full.

You can also use this concept when it comes to how you want to spend your time. You could accept that meeting invite. But, it’s an hour-long and doesn’t have a clear purpose.

Instead, you may determine that that block of time could be better spent finishing an important task so that you can leave early to spend time with your family.

Let go of the narrative so that you can focus.

“If you are feeling fear, shame, overwhelm, anxiety, worry … this is completely natural,” writes Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. “Let yourself feel it fully for a moment.” From there, “see if you can let go of the narrative that’s causing the fear.”

“What narrative are you playing in your head that’s making you afraid?” he asks. Are you concerned about not meeting a deadline you set or being perfect? “These are not necessarily false narratives, but they’re hurting you no matter how true they are.”

Narratives, like the examples above, “keep us from being present, pulling us instead to thinking about other things,” states Babauta. They also “add fear and worry to our experience, which makes it harder to focus.”

“So think of the narrative as a soap bubble that you can just pop,” he advises. “Pop! And it’s gone.”

Bring more mindfulness into your life.

Well, you know that this was eventually going to pop up.

“According to thousands of years of tradition, Buddhists meditate to understand themselves and their connections to all beings,” writes Jill Suttie, Psy.D. in Greater Good. “By doing so, they hope to be released from suffering and ultimately gain enlightenment.”

Research, however, also shows that “mindfulness affects many aspects of our psychological well-being,” adds Dr. Suttie. These “include improving our mood, increasing positive emotions, and decreasing our anxiety, emotional reactivity, and job burnout.” Moreover, mindfulness is good for our hearts, improves immune response, and decreases cognitive decline.

Even better? You can introduce mindfulness into your daily life via;

  • Start each day on the right foot. Rather than jumping directly on your phone, ask, “What is my intention for today?”
  • Visualize your goals.
  • Practice peaceful eating and savory every bite.
  • Conduct body scans throughout the day.
  • Take frequent mindful breaks, such as going for a 20-minute walk outside.
  • Activate the “slow brain” by creating new patterns, such as a series of “If this, then that” messages.
  • Be more clear about the aim of your physical activity.
  • Drive yourself calm during your commute. For instance, before turning over the engine, engage in breathing exercises and checking for any body tension.
  • Review your day and practice gratitude.

Stop overscheduling yourself.

There’s a rule that I’ve followed for years when you feel over-committed and need to decide where to trim the fat. “If you’re not saying ‘HELL YEAH!’ about something, say ‘no,’” recommends Derek Sivers.

“When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than ‘Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!’ — then say ‘no.’”

“When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say ‘HELL YEAH!’”

Whatever you’re invited to, regardless if it’s a meeting or social function, if you’re not 100% into it, politely say “no.” And use this thinking with any other time requests that come your way as well.

Connect with people — in real life.

“In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? Or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?” writes Omid Safi.

“What is this haal that you inquire about?” Safi asks. It’s “the transient state of one’s heart.” That means that you’re genuinely asking, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?”

“I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox,” he states. “I want to know how your heart is doing at this very moment.” Whether it’s filled with sadness or joy, this builds a stronger connection with others.

“Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing,” adds Safi. “Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch.”

“Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence,” he advises.

Make everything negotiable.

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” — Charles Buxto

I can’t stress this enough. You are the gatekeeper of your time. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be disrespectful of others. For instance, when you get paid to do a job on an agreed-upon deadline, then you have to see that through. On the flip side, if you’re at full capacity, don’t commit to anything new until you have the availability.

The key is to be transparent and flexible upfront. Sharing your calendar, in my opinion, is the easiest way around the stress of being transparent and flexible. As opposed to role-playing as Tom and Jerry, they can see when you’re free to have a conference call, meet for lunch, or start a new project.

Establish tech-free zones.

While you can’t completely go-off-the grid, you do need to establish boundaries with technology. Your phone, as an example, has a knack for distracting and pulling you from the present. Just think about how many times you’re in the zone or relaxing only for a text to transport you to some future event.

While turning off notifications or blocking apps/websites at certain times can help, there’s always the temptation to look at our phones. In fact, there’s even a phenomenon known as phantom vibration syndrome where we think that our phone is ringing or vibrating when it’s not.

The best way to counter this? Go on a tech detox by designating tech-free zones.

When it’s time to eat dinner, leave your phone in the living room. Have your family do the same is that everyone is fully engaged in conversation. When it’s bedtime, turn your phone off and keep it somewhere else in your home — even if it’s just across the room.

While leaving your phone in another room may be uncomfortable initially, it will get easier over time. Eventually, you’ll realize that you don’t always have your phone beside you 24/7. And, that will improve your relationships, encourage a better night’s sleep, and make you in-tune with your surroundings.

It May Be Summertime, but the Living Ain’t Necessarily Easier

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It May Be Summertime, But the Living Ain't Necessarily Easier

In reality, it’s mostly only teachers and students who get to take the entire summer off. Even so, the summer months are heavily associated with vacations, beach days, and other fun extracurricular activities. Warmer weather certainly enables a lot more outdoor fun than the other months of the year.

Don’t let all the fun in the sun go to your head, though. There’s still work to be done.

It can be all too easy for business owners to adopt a summer vacation mindset and allow things to slide a bit. When you feel the heat slowing you down, it’s important to set appointments — with yourself — to stay productive. Below are five examples of the types of appointments you should set to keep up your forward momentum.

1. Weekly Planning Sessions

Summer often arrives coupled with a “go with the flow” attitude. While this can be an attractive way to spend your days, a sustained lack of structure often leads to decreased productivity. To keep yourself — and your business — on track, schedule weekly planning meetings for yourself.

Weekends might be an ideal time to hold these personal planning sessions for anyone who operates on a regular 9-to-5 schedule. Whatever time slot you select is less important than keeping that appointment each week. If something does come up, reschedule this time immediately.

When the time for your planning session arrives, open your calendar and plot out the next seven days. Are there any events you need to prepare for? Block out time to do so. Is there a milestone you need to reach in pursuit of a summer goal? Write down your task completion percentage. Use this time to organize your time and efforts to pursue a productive week.

Make your plans as specific as possible. Vague notes are more easily overlooked. Plenty of blank spaces in your calendar may unintentionally provide room for idleness. The more you can plan out your work hours, the better.

2. Self-Care Appointments

Scroll through enough summer vacation photos on social media, and you may begin to feel left out. Burnout and idleness are common during the summer months as workers dream about the beach and count the days until the next weekend. One way to avoid such burnout is to regularly schedule smaller blocks of time for yourself.

Self-care might sound counterintuitive when talking about productivity, but it’s been shown to be an effective long-term play. Approaching your personal time by setting appointments ensures that you’re making time for yourself and that you do so responsibly.

Two dangers to be aware of are taking too much personal time or not taking enough. Scheduling a spa day or a movie night will give you quality time to unwind without taking it too far. By being well-rested and in good spirits, your energy and focus during work hours will be increased.

3. Personal Budgeting Meetings

Over half of the U.S. population takes their spending up a notch during the summer months. Oftentimes this is because summer is strongly associated with fun and new experiences. Extra trips and excursions are planned and taken. If you’re not keeping a personal budget, you run the risk of overspending.

What does budgeting have to do with productivity? As it turns out, a lot.

Money problems are one of life’s biggest stressors. The realization that you’ve spent more than you should have can cause anxiety, which in turn reduces your productivity and overall well-being. You might feel inclined to counterbalance stress by working more hours, but that doesn’t always equate to more effective work. This tactic is often self-defeating.

You may not need to set personal budgeting appointments as often as you do for weekly planning. Once a month might suffice unless you have to accommodate a major event such as a summer wedding or an unexpected medical bill. Document your expenses, necessary or not, and do your best to stay within that budget for the rest of the month.

4. Review Your Metrics

Let’s get down to business. When was the last time you checked your business metrics? These will be one of the greatest indicators of overall productivity this summer. Any slump will be directly reflected in your numbers. This is especially true if you’re a small business owner or operating a startup where even the slightest action can have a big impact.

Set a recurring appointment with yourself to review your business metrics. Doing so will ensure you actually glance at them from time to time. Here are a few metrics you should consider:

  • Response time: How quickly are you following up with a prospective customer?
  • Website traffic: How many customers are using your website in a given time period?
  • Social media followers and engagement: What’s the number of customers supporting your business online and interacting with posts?
  • Cash flow: What’s your total revenue minus total expenditures?

These numbers and others are good indicators of how healthy your business is. A commitment to your personal productivity should cause these numbers to improve. As you look at data metrics, set goals and formulate plans that put your productivity to work instead of throwing ideas at the wall until something sticks. Make appointments with yourself to check progress.

5. Self Check-In

Some of us need constant reminders to keep productivity up. If you’re one of these people, feel free to set personal appointments as often as you see fit. This could even be a daily occurrence where you check in with yourself to gauge your progress that day.

Let’s say you’ve set a personal goal to make 20 cold calls a day to grow your startup business. A self check-in appointment at midday can help you get into gear if you’re falling behind on your quota. Regular self-check-ins will also hold you accountable for the different goals you set throughout the summer.

You definitely want to make time to enjoy summertime, but a small business owner can only afford to get so comfortable. The summer months may be pivotal for your business and your personal progress. Experiment with setting personal appointments to stay motivated so that you don’t let too many opportunities pass you by. 

Over Everything? 11 Ways to Regain Motivation

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Over Everything? 11 Ways to Regain Motivation

We’ve all been there at one point or another — saggy-baggy motivation. You just lose your drive to achieve the goals that you’ve set. And, that’s a problem that can hold you back from solving problems, exploring new opportunities, and breaking unhealthy habits.

Over Everything? 11 Ways to Regain Motivation

If you find yourself in this rut, don’t lose hope — just don’t. You can still get back on track even if you feel like you’re in charge of, or — worse — you’re done and “over” everything. Getting your zip back will involve doing the following 11 strategies.

1. One goal.

“Whenever I’ve been in a slump, I’ve discovered that it’s often because I have too much going on in my life,” writes Zen Habits’ Leo Babauta. “I’m trying to do too much.” As a result, “it saps my energy and motivation. It’s probably the most common mistake that people make: they try to take on too much, try to accomplish too many goals at once.”

It’s impossible to “maintain energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal) if you are trying to do two or more goals at once,” he adds. “You have to choose one goal, for now, and focus on it completely.”

“I know, that’s hard,” Leo says. “Still, I speak from experience. You can always do your other goals when you’ve accomplished your One Goal.”

2. Go back to square one.

Do you feel like throwing in the proverbial towel? I think we all have at some point. But, when this becomes too unbearable, it’s often best to give yourself a time out and remember your “why.”

For me, this involves having some “me” time. Usually, it’s a really long walk with my dog and without my phone. During this time, I ask questions like;

  • Why did I choose this work in the first place?
  • What were the initial goals?
  • Is what I’m doing helping my pushing me closer to my long-term goals?
  • Do I enjoy working with my current team?
  • What’s the reason I get out of bed every morning?

You don’t have to ask these exact questions. The idea is to carve out some alone time in order to remember why you started.

3. Give yourself a fresh start.

At the same time, you might just need to turn over a new leaf. I get that this can be tough. But, sometimes you just have to be proactive and move on to something else.

But, did you know that you can do this at any time? Well, that’s what a study from the Wharton School of Business discovered. Researchers found that “intertemporal markers” encourage us by;

In short, talk yourself up and contrive a fresh start when you need a shot of motivation.

4. Make a Ulysses Pact.

“Named for the clever hero of the Trojan war, the Ulysses Pact is a technique for holding yourself accountable to stick with a goal even when it’s hard,” explains Nick Wignall.

What’s the key ingredient in a Ulysses Pact? It’s “that we make a choice in the present (when things are relatively easy) that binds us to perform an action in the future (when things are hard).”

“For example, suppose you want to stick to a plan of going for a run two times per week in the morning with a friend,” adds Wignall. “You could write your friend a series of checks, each for $20, and instruct them to cash one and use the money on whatever they want if you miss a workout with them.”

“In short, the Ulysses Pact helps you maintain high motivation when things get tough by locking in a future behavior ahead of time.”

Why do commitment devices work? They’re “a way to overcome the discrepancy between an individual’s short-term and long-term preferences,” clarifies economist Jodi Beggs. “In other words, they are a way for self-aware people to modify their incentives or set of possible choices in order to overcome impatience or other irrational behavior.”

5. Go on mini-sprints.

“Our brains are wired to focus on the short term versus the long term,” explains high-performance coach Shefali Raina. “So mini-sprints help us get focused, energetic, and motivated to complete shorter-term tasks and feel good afterward.”

Keep that in mind whenever you perceive a task as too big too long, overwhelming, or tedious. Instead of forcing yourself to get into the zone, break these tasks down into min-sprints or shorter blocks of time.

How you go about this is ultimately up to you. For me, I’m all about eating an elephant one bite at a time. For instance, when writing this article, I focus on one point at a time instead of “Oh man, I have to a 1,000 word plus article!”

Another suggestion would be to tap into your ultradian rhythms. For most of us that means, we can work for around an hour before taking a break. One study found that the ideal formula is working for 52-minutes followed by a 17-minute break.

6. Limit wishes.

“You begin to fly when you let go of self-limiting beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights.” — Brian Tracy

It’s true. Limiting beliefs hold us hostage from pursuing our goals and desires. For example, they prevent us from asking someone out on a date or starting a new business.

What do we do next? We make limiting wishes, such as “If I were thinner I would be attractive to others” or “If I had a million dollars I could launch my startup.”

While there are times they can be useful, like protecting us from breaking the law, they’re often barriers. Overcome this by challenging limiting beliefs. Some suggestions are asking “What if I’m wrong” and “How this belief is serving me?”

7. Set goals that are intrinsically rewarding.

“In my research, I find that immediate rewards when pursuing long-term goals increase goal persistence and that this occurs by increasing intrinsic motivation — the desire to pursue the activity for its own sake,” says Kaitlin Woolley, assistant professor of marketing at Johnson College of Business. “For example, focusing on the positive taste of healthy food, or the fun in working out, can increase healthy food consumption and persistence with an exercise.”

Immediate rewards are also an effective motivator when developing new habits as well. “A large part of the problem stems from the fact that people are focusing too much on the delayed reward — the outcome of their workout or healthy eating,” notes Woolley. “But when people are in the middle of something, they care a lot about the experience and having fun, more so than the delayed outcome.”

Woolley’s research has also found that fun is key when pursuing long-term goals. “People often get wrapped up in the outcome of their actions,” she says. “And it’s not that the outcome isn’t important, but having fun along the way is the key to persisting with goals.”

8. Change your scenery.

If you’ve properly set up your workspace, it can be inspiring and motivating. I would dare say that it’s somewhere that you actually enjoy being. And, the comfort and routine you’ve established can reduce anxiety and the number of decisions to make.

However, it can get boring. It’s like if your favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs. If you have this for dinner every night, you’re going to get sick of it. To avoid this, you need to have a variety of meals.

If you feel like you’re getting tired of your routine, shake things up. Instead of going to work in your office, work from a coffee shop, coworking space, or local library. Better yet, get yourself outside as the color green has been proven to boost energy and motivation.

9. Place the negatives out on the curb.

“The brain is a complex muscle that solves complex mathematical problems, creates innovative ideas that have put humans on the moon, invented the internet which changed the way we live and the mind gave us the intelligence to cure serious diseases saving countless lives,” writes Chris Delaney for Addicted2Success. Despite all that, it can still be tricked.

Delaney suggests that you say “I Love London In The Summer Time” out loud.

Your eyes didn’t deceive — and no one made a grammatical error. But, did you spot the double use of the word “the?” Don’t worry, most people didn’t.

What’s the point of this? The “same psychology can be used to trick the mind into Motivation,” says Delaney.

First, “Think of a task that you need to complete but procrastination has stopped you in your tracks,” he adds. “When thinking about this goal, do you imagine how hard this task is, the number of steps you have to take and do you second guess how you will fail?”

“With a focus on the problems and pain of the goal, your mind magically deletes the positives, the potential fun, and your optimistic outcome.” Instead, focus on the positives.

One strategy you can try is imagining that you’re watching a small black-and-white TV. Visualize any negative thoughts or bad memories getting smaller and dimmer. Next, replace “this image by imagining a large, colored film” that’s full of fun and laughter.

10. Hang out with the right crowd.

There’s a popular adage that goes, positivity breeds positivity. Believe it or not, that’s pretty sound advice. The reason being that this type of energy is contagious.

Think about this for a second. When you’re surrounded by positive-minded people who are go-getters, it’s more motivating than hanging out with naysayers and people without ambition.

11. Pump yourself up.

Finally, create routines and rituals that get you amped. For instance, before getting into your most important task for the day, psych yourself up by listening to a playlistleveling up with gamification, or tapping into the power of nostalgia.

Over Everything? 11 Ways to Regain Motivation was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

5 Potential Barriers to Automated Appointment-Making

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5 Potential Barriers to Automated Appointment-Making

Automated scheduling makes life for appointment-based businesses so much easier. However, that may not be the case for all your clients. There are some potential accessibility barriers that every business must be aware of, especially when moving most of their operations to an online platform.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 to help eliminate everyday discrimination against people with disabilities. This includes barriers to employment, schooling, and working with businesses. The internet has helped a lot of people with disabilities accomplish great things, but there are still struggles to overcome. Businesses should take the following factors into account as a strong first step toward making online scheduling available to all:

1. Visibility

The most common disability you’ll come across when operating online is visual impairments. There a variety of different issues that may affect your customers, each with its own required solutions:

Low Vision

There are lots of factors that can contribute to low vision, from cataracts and astigmatism to simple aging of the body. Individuals with low vision will struggle with small bodies of text, complex fonts, and poor spacing between words. Minor tweaks to your website and online appointment software, as well as enabling text enlargement as a feature, will accommodate their needs.

Some of your customers may be legally blind, rendering all the text and images on your website inaccessible to them. These individuals typically rely on screen readers to navigate the internet, getting all their information from sound. Read through your appointment process and see how each heading and set of instructions sounds in your head. If everything flows smoothly, you should be in the clear. 

Color Blindness

The average person can clearly distinguish different colors. Those who suffer from color blindness, though, lack such perception. This can be a challenge for them in many aspects of life, including working through websites that rely on color signals for navigation.

For example, red is a common color used to indicate an error in a form field that’s needed to finalize an appointment. Red can be a tricky color for many color blind people to identify, causing them to miss the details that require their attention. Using textures or symbols alongside colors will help direct them just as well as any other customer. 

Light Sensitivity

Some people are really sensitive to light, which can make it difficult for them to navigate your website if it includes bright colors. Many apps include a “dark mode” setting for this very purpose. Replacing white with black is a simple tactic that can make all the difference for those with high light sensitivity. 

You might think that adjusting the brightness on a device is enough, but don’t count on it. When looking to comply with ADA regulations, go above and beyond to meet the needs of every customer you serve. 

2. Hearing Impairments

While the internet is considered to be a primarily visual medium, there are certain aspects that only function with an auditory component. You might not realize that you’re alienating those with hearing impairments until you revisit your website with a fresh perspective. 

Does your website have a video that’s used to explain how your appointment software works? If you do, make sure that those with hearing impairments receive equal direction. Enable closed captioning or provide a transcript of the video so that all the information can be read as well as heard.

3. Dyslexia

Contrary to popular belief, dyslexia is not a visual problem. It’s considered a language-based learning disability that makes reading and writing a challenge. People with dyslexia are just as smart as anyone else. However, their brains have a harder time connecting letters and words together when reading things like your appointment booking portal.

Simple fonts such as Ariel are easier to process. Avoid using italics if possible, as this can cause letters to run together or seem foreign. In addition, videos and images can guide those with dyslexia through your appointment booking software if you make them an option. 

4. Motor Function

Motor skill disabilities pose another potential obstacle to online appointment booking. Trying to operate a sensitive mouse or trackpad can be frustrating for customers with even minor struggles with motor functions. Your job as a business is to make website navigation and appointment booking as easy as possible for everyone.

This demographic normally gets by through keyboard commands rather than a trackpad or touchy mouse. Make sure customers can navigate through your appointment booking software by using arrow keys and shortcuts. Even customers with perfect motor skills will appreciate having several options for website navigation. 

5. Sensory and Memory Issues

Ever experienced a sensory overload? When there’s too much going on in your vicinity, it’s practically impossible to focus. People with sensory processing issues can experience such sensory overload all too easily. If your online booking software is too loud and busy, it can be too overwhelming for these individuals to schedule appointments online.

There are also those with short-term memory problems who will struggle with a long and complicated booking process. Take time to evaluate how your online booking software can be simplified to cater to both of these types of customers, as well as anyone else who might simply be in a hurry. 

There are many unique disabilities and hardships that each of your customers push through on a daily basis. Get to know them so that you can serve them better, both through your online appointment software and your in-house service. You’ll feel a greater sense of satisfaction knowing that no customer will be turned away or feel discouraged when interacting with your business.

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