4 Types of Meetings Leaders Should Avoid

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Meetings are a non-negotiable part of business. There are work meetings, new hire meetings, team huddles, and client meetings, just to name a few.

Despite your best efforts to make every meeting effective and worth your time, there’s a good chance some of them aren’t necessary. It’s essential that you avoid wasting valuable meeting time. Avoid scheduling these four types of meetings.

  • Meetings without an agenda

If you find yourself scheduling meetings with no agenda, you should ask whether you truly need them. Never put a meeting on your calendar — or let someone else schedule one — without a clear list of talking points. 

Here are some tips for designing a meeting agenda:

  • Prepare your agenda early. 

The earlier you can prepare for a meeting, the better. Developing your agenda ahead of time will help you to improve the effectiveness of your meetings. Without an agenda, meetings can quickly devolve into off-topic wastes of time. 

  • Seek input from team members. 

It’s smart to send out an email before a meeting that outlines objectives or expectations. Not only does this make your meeting more organized, but according to Slack’s Farah Jaffer, it can help you gauge whether or not the meeting is really necessary.

  • List agenda topics as questions. 

Don’t be the type of leader who goes through a list of talking points without giving anyone else the opportunity to weigh in. When you phrase topics or meeting points as questions, you encourage collaboration and discussion amongst your team. 

A question-based agenda encourages a wider range of solutions. Just as importantly, it makes your team members feel like their voice matters. 

  • Status-update meetings

We’ve all attended a status-update meeting. Whether it’s about a change in management, important information about a project, or news about a client, these meetings all have one thing in common: They all involve information that could be conveyed by email. 

While the purpose of status update meetings is to share important information, they do it in the wrong forum. If a company-wide email isn’t appropriate, what about a phone call to the stakeholders who need to hear it?

If someone insists on a status-update meeting, prepare your employees with an email beforehand. Otherwise, the information may come as a total shock, which creates distractions and encourages gossip around the office. 

  • Brainstorming meetings

Brainstorming meetings are a staple at agencies and on creative teams. Mixing a group of unique individuals together may seem like the best way to land on an idea fast, but science says otherwise. A 1958 Yale study actually showed that people generate a higher number of original ideas when they don’t interact with others. 

Yes, brainstorming can make for a good team bonding activity. But if the goal is to generate creative ideas in the most efficient manner possible, ban the brainstorm. Ask people to share ideas via email or Slack instead, and appoint a decision maker to choose the best one. 

  • Client-issue meetings

When an account is “on fire,” so to speak, it might seem like you should hold a meeting. You find yourself suddenly emailing anyone who has touched the account saying, “Let’s meet and figure this out.” The next thing you know, a few hours have passed by and the day is over.

While catering to the needs of your clients is important, you have to realize that both your time and their time is valuable. Avoid long, unnecessary meetings by trying to get to the root of the issue. 

When a client asks for a meeting, respond by asking for more details regarding the purpose of the meeting. Either the account manager can solve it directly, or it’s a topic that’s bigger than a single client account — which may call for a conversation with company leaders. 

Maximizing your meeting time is all about knowing which ones are actually valuable and which aren’t. Review your calendar every Friday to determine how you spent your meeting time last week. Use those details to decide how you’ll spend your time in the coming week. Don’t let a week of wasted meetings turn into a month, year, or career’s worth of them. 

5 Tips for Setting Your Calendar Availability

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Double-booking yourself, setting up an appointment that interferes with your personal schedule, or simply feeling overworked: None of it feels good, and all of it can be solved with some simple changes to your calendar.

Your calendar’s availability settings can and should be customized. Remember, it’s your calendar: Whether you’re available, when you’re available, where you’re available, and with whom you’re available to meet are all up to you. 

To take control of your calendar, use these five tips to set your calendar availability:

  • Align your availability with the company’s.

First and foremost, wrap your professional availability around your company’s business hours. Doing so gives you a reason to say “no” to meetings outside of a specific time range, which is important for your work-life balance. 

It may be hard at first, but you have to get used to saying “no” to pointless or ill-timed meetings. Either offer a time that works better for you, or propose an alternative communication solution, such as email.

Getting tough with people about your availability is key for productivity. Define your hours of operation, and don’t accept meetings outside of that time frame. 

  • Decide on “never ever” hours.

Just because your company is open does not mean you need to be open for meetings during that time. Decide as a company on an online scheduling tool that lets everyone see who’s available and who isn’t at a given time. 

Perhaps you know that you do your best work first thing in the mornings. Go ahead and block off the hours before 10 a.m. for deep work. Many calendar tools let you select “Apply to all weekdays.” This setting is also useful for scheduling recurring meetings, such as a weekly client touch-base.

  • Control how availability is displayed.

Clients do not need to see every appointment on your calendar. At best, they’ll be confused by the mess of meetings that are not relevant to them; at worst, they might see sensitive or private information.

Until you’ve checked a setting to the contrary, assume that everything you put on your calendar is public. Once you’ve found that setting, operate on a “need to know” basis. If a client questions why they can’t see all of your appointments, be respectful but firm.

To help clients know what to expect, share meeting details such as:

  • When you’ll be available to meet
  • What to expect during meetings
  • What number to call or website to visit to join the virtual meeting room
  • Any software the client needs to install for the meeting
  • Who else might need to be in the meetings

Setting general meeting expectations is important, but it is not a substitute for confirming all appointments via email. If you do not bother to communicate with a client between the time a meeting is scheduled until the time it actually occurs, you’ll have more no-shows than you’d like.

  • Sync your personal and professional calendars.

Between your professional and personal lives, it can be hard to keep up with all of your appointments. Avoid conflicts by syncing your calendars. Looking back and forth between separate ones can open the door to mistakes, not to mention the productivity lost in the process. 

Many tools, including Calendar and Google Calendar, put you in the driver’s seat on which meeting details are displayed. Those who view your work calendar can only see your work events, not the private information associated with your personal ones. The same is true of your personal connections who can see a synced version of your work calendar. 

  • Give people a heads up about exceptions. 

There will be normal work days when you’re out of the office for PTO, a conference, or a client visit. On the flip side, there may be days off when you need to work a few hours. 

Try not to catch people off guard. At least 48 hours in advance (and preferably a week), send a notification via email that you will or won’t be available outside of your normal schedule. Be sure to block off (or open up) the time on your calendar. And if you’ll be completely offline, remember to set an out-of-office responder. 

When you take the time to properly set up your calendar availability, you’ll raise the ceiling on how much you can achieve in a day. In doing so, you’ll make not just your life easier, but also that of your clients and team members. Who knew taking charge of your calendar availability could make such a difference?

7 Crucial Components You Must Schedule Into Your Day

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With so much to do on any given day, knowing how to prioritize your time can feel overwhelming. We all have a limited number of hours available. We have to use that time to maximize our productivity, but we also have to make sure that we take the opportunity to facilitate our health and wellbeing. Establishing healthy habits part of your daily schedule ensures your health doesn’t get pushed aside.

Below we created a list of 7 crucial components to schedule into your day to keep your health, mental clarity, and productivity all in perfect balance.

1. Nighttime Routine

When it comes to our physical and psychological health, a good night’s sleep is vital. Yet, many Americans do not receive the rest they need to function correctly. The CDC reports that a third of US adults get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. Since insufficient rest is linked to serious chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and obesity, this is a cause for concern.

The CDC has gone so far as to declare sleep deprivation as a “public health problem.” So what does all of this mean for your daily routine? Experts suggest that establishing a nighttime routine can significantly improve the quality of your sleep and help you fall asleep faster.

Our list below includes essential components for your nighttime routine.

  •  Set your bedtime.
    To ensure you get a full night’s sleep, establish a set bedtime. When you go to bed at the same time every night, your body will naturally begin to relax and prepare for sleep on its own. To help make this part of your daily routine, consider setting the alarm for one hour before you plan to go to bed. When this alarm goes off, you’ll know you have plenty of time to complete your nighttime routine and get to sleep on.
  • Perform relaxing activities.
    Before bed, relaxing and soothing activities can help you fall asleep faster. Consider reading, taking a warm bath or shower, performing breathing exercises, or journaling. These activities can calm the mind and help you relieve stress from your daily life.
  • Create a restful environment.
    Trying to find adequate sleep in a space that is cluttered can prove impossible. Remove any items from your sleep space that may trigger stress or anxiety. Mail, laundry, work-related issues, computers, and exercise equipment should be banned from your bedroom. It’s also important to consider your mattress. Sleeping on an inadequate mattress or pillow night after night can severely disrupt your sleep. Be sure your mattress is supportive, comfortable, and suited to your needs, and get the best pillow to complete your sleep setup.
  • Avoid large meals before bed.
    When our bodies work hard to digest food, it can be challenging to unwind and rest. Therefore, medical experts suggest avoiding large, heavy meals before bed. Try to give your body at least 3 hours to digest food fully before retiring to bed.
  • Reduce screen time.
    Our bodies naturally produce melatonin to help us relax and prepare for sleep. Since light can interfere with the production of melatonin, experts suggest reducing the amount of screen time at least 2 hours before bed. Less screen time ensures you fall asleep faster.

Incorporating some or all of the above components into your nighttime routine should help improve your sleep quality. For balance and productivity, a bedtime routine is essential.

2. Morning Routine

How you end, your day is just as important as how you start it. The morning is a perfect time to plan for the day ahead and organize your goals before your day begins. To establish a morning routine that will set you up for a productive afternoon and evening, consider our tips below.

  • Evaluate goals.
    First, consider your goal for the day. You may have several things you want to accomplish, but by identifying the most critical tasks, you will be better able to prioritize your time.
  • Review schedule.
    Once you have established the critical tasks for the day, you can create a realistic timeline for completing them. Be sure to review appointments, meetings, and productivity time so you can identify any open slots.
  • Plan meals.
    Planning out your breakfast, lunch, and dinner can go a long way in reducing daily stress. If you go into an office each day, consider packing your lunch. Taking your lunch to work can save money, help you eat healthier, and give you more
    time to relax. Arranging your dinners in advance will also prevent you from having to stress over what to make after a long day. To help yourself prepare, consider writing out your meal plans in the morning before the day begins. Additionally, you can use the weekends to create meal plans for the entire week.
  • Exercise.
    Exercise can take place at any time of the day; however, many experts suggest that the morning is the best time to take part in physical activities. Morning exercise is excellent for helping the body wake up, jump-starting metabolism, and burning stored fat.
  • Make your bed.
    Completing small tasks like making your bed each morning can help you feel accomplished and in control as you start your day. Though this may seem a trivial task to some people, making your bed can set the tone for a productive day. It also leaves your bedroom tidy and organized, which will help you feel more relaxed when you return to bed at the end of the day.
  • Create a getting out the door routine.
    Mornings can often feel hectic as you try to get out of the door. To help reduce morning stress, consider doing a bit of prep the evening before. Place essential items you will need for the day close by the door. For example, laptops, briefcases or backpacks, lunches, and water bottles, keys, purses or wallets, gym clothes, and shoes should be placed in the same place each evening, so they are ready to go in the morning.

Incorporating any of these small tasks into your morning routine can give you a jump start on your day and leave you feeling focused.

3. Exercise

As we mentioned above, exercise tends to be most effective in the morning. However, if you are unable to make exercise part of your morning routine, be sure to schedule a workout elsewhere in your day.

Just like sleep, exercise is critical to your health. Experts note that regular physical activity helps to prevent significant health issues such as stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, and some forms of cancer. If you don’t currently have a regular fitness routine, consider starting small with a 7-minute workout. Even this short routine can help make exercise a permanent part of your daily life.

4. Downtime

The term “downtime” means something different to everyone. What helps each person relax and let go of stress will be specific to their interests, lifestyle, and hobbies. However, making time for leisure activities within your day is vital for your mental clarity. Our list below includes some healthy things you may want to consider incorporating.

  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Read.
  • Participate in your favorite hobby.
  • Laugh.
  • Enjoy a favorite beverage or meal.
  • Cook.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Journal

Above all, what you do in your downtime should make you happy and leave you feeling centered. Be sure to schedule in your downtime so that it always remains a priority.

5. Productivity

Most of us need to think that we have been productive at some point in the day. Whether you work a traditional 9 to 5 job, do freelance work, or own a business, you will need to schedule your work.

To keep your operating hours productive, consider decluttering your workspace, removing distractions, placing tasks in manageable “chunks,” and delegating or outsourcing projects if you find your workload unmanageable. It is essential to set a specific number of uninterrupted hours of productivity each day. A set schedule will ensure that your professional life does not interfere with your health or wellbeing. Work quickly from your phone while on the train, trax, or uber when you can.

6. Outdoor Time

Outdoor time is good for the brain and the body. Natural sunlight improves mood and focus. Studies show that going outdoors during that day:

  • Reduces stress.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Improves energy levels.
  • Helps reduce or dissipate depression.
  • Lifts anxiety.
  • Gives you your daily dose of vitamin D.

Scheduling even a small amount of outdoor time into each day can have significant effects on your overall health. To make coordinating outdoor time easier, consider eating your lunch at a nearby park, completing your exercise routine outside, going for a short walk in the morning or evening, or finding longer hikes you can achieve or complete on the weekends. Even if you live in a busy city, chances are you will be able to find nearby green spaces or hiking trails.

7. Gratitude

When we are in the midst of your busy lives, it can be challenging to stop and take a moment to be thankful. During your day, try to make time to express gratitude. You can do this first thing in the morning upon waking or just before bed.

Consider starting a gratitude journal, or letting those around you know that you appreciate them. Taking a small amount of time to be grateful for what you can help reduce stress and improve mental clarity.

Addition Scheduling Tips

It is important to remember that establishing healthy habits takes time. Remember to start small and gradually increase the number of tasks you schedule. For example, if you have begun incorporating a 7-minute exercise routine into your day, after a month of completing this task regularly, you may want to increase the intensity and duration of the workout. Always have a self-care routine. Self-care will be your secret weapon to physical and mental health, as well as higher productivity.

Additionally, it will be helpful to keep your momentum going. If you begin by establishing a set bedtime, try your best to maintain that habit. If you miss a day, don’t fret, aim to stay consistent afterward. Before long, these habits will become second nature.

6 Meetings That Boost Productivity on Remote Teams

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Every company has a unique mix of purpose, goals, and culture. As a result, they also have unique workflows.

Although some teams are still completely in-office operations, about 70% of people globally work remotely at least once a week. To keep communication lines strong and productivity high, remote teams have to be deliberate about when and why they meet. 

Which types of meetings actually matter for remote teams, and how should they be conducted? Here’s our take:

1. Daily or weekly check-ins

In fast-paced, deadline-driven work environments, it’s crucial to keep remote employees on the same page as on-site staff. Starting each day with a 15-minute stand-up meeting ensures that each team member gets a chance to discuss their workload and ask for any support they might need. 

If a daily meeting sounds like overkill for your remote team, consider a weekly one instead. Keep it to 30 minutes or less, if at all possible. This is enough time for a round-up of goals, accomplishments, and concerns — but not enough for the meeting to devolve into pointless conversation. These meetings promote time-blocking while reducing the need for back-and-forth email chains. 

2. Quick follow-ups

Does a project brief, report, or email need more clarification? Is there something you need to chat through before you can take the next step?

Rather than adding to the flurry of digital messages, hop on a call. A five- to ten-minute conversation is all it takes, in most cases, to get clarity.

This is especially important for highly collaborative teams. A quick follow-up meeting can prevent multiple members of a team from heading down the wrong path. 

3. Monthly status updates

Sometimes, a particularly important project deserves its own series of meetings. To keep long-term initiatives on track, consider scheduling monthly or quarterly meetings to touch base. 

What sorts of projects do these meetings make sense for? Marketing campaigns, sales strategies, and product development are common ones. Recruitment and cultural curation initiatives also deserve periodic updates.

Because these meetings happen less frequently, take steps to prevent poor time management. Prepare an agenda with clear action items beforehand. Know who plans to present, and ask them to send summaries of those presentations to the team afterward. Be sure to make time for participants’ questions or concerns. 

4. Brainstorms

The hardest part of any project is starting it. Keep your remote team’s productivity high with opportunities to brainstorm around roadblocks. Virtual brainstorm sessions should last anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes, allowing team members to generate and share project-related ideas freely. 

In these meetings, visual aids are great ways to jog ideas. Consider conducting your virtual brainstorms via videoconference in a room with a whiteboard. At the very least, use screen-sharing so everyone can see the notes and ideas generated so far. 

5. Leadership Q&As

Remote team members get less (and in some cases, no) face time with managers and executives. A great way to maintain communication between them is with Q&A sessions. These types of meetings are best used to discuss team-wide concerns and ongoing cultural issues. Just be sure to schedule them well in advance so workers can prepare questions and leaders can think through their talking points. 

If your company works with subject matter experts, Q&A sessions can also be used to share specialists’ advice with the rest of the team. Employees may not need to understand every detail, but they should be able to get their questions answered. 

6. Cross-team collaborations 

When two or more teams are working on the same project, they need to set common goals and track progress together. Get both groups together to talk through challenges and workflows.

Perhaps your web and product teams are working on an e-commerce launch. Key players from both teams should share their strategies and discuss how the other can help. On-site product details should match the product’s actual functionality.

Schedule these conversations for 15, 30, or 45 minutes. Anything longer should be split into multiple meetings, and anything shorter should be treated as a check-in meeting. Timed right, collaborative meetings boost quality of work and efficiency. 

Remote workers may be physically separated, but that shouldn’t get in the way of their productivity. Scheduling meetings strategically is the best way to keep everyone working well together. And that sort of collaboration is how companies stay ahead of the curve. 

What Are the Main Priorities in Your Business Life?

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To-Do List

Regardless of whether you’re looking to climb your way up the corporate ladder or grow your business, we need to have priorities for our professional life. Without establishing your priorities, we won’t be as effective at our jobs or meet goals and deadlines. Priorities are also needed to protect resources like time and money. Essential to business and personal growth — are priorities.

But, you already knew that, right?

Even if you are aware of the importance of priorities, what are the main ones for you to focus on? Well, here are six main priorities that are required if you want to thrive in your business life.

Determining your “big three.”

Here’s an experiment. Write down all of the tasks that are tied to your professionally for the next month. I have no doubt that it’s quite the list. And, it probably contains several high priority items. But, in reality, this list could be drastically trimmed down.

I know what you’re thinking, “I can’t trim down my list; it isn’t possible because everything on my list is a top priority.”

“If you review your list carefully, item by item, you will find that only three items on your entire list account for 90% of your value to your business,” writes Brian Tracy. So, how can you determine your “big three”? “Make a list of ALL your work tasks and responsibilities, from the first day of the month to the last day, and throughout the year,” suggests Tracy. “Then answer these three magic questions.”

The first question would be, “If I could only do one thing on this list, all day long, which one activity would contribute the greatest value to my business?” Because it’s so important, it will probably stand out from the rest of the items on your list. If you’re uncertain, it should be the one thing that will have the most significant impact on your business or career.

The second would is, “If I could only do two things on this list, all day long, what would be the second activity that would make the greatest contribution to my business?” These items should also jump out at you. However, they may not seem as apparent at first.

The third question is, “If I could only do three things on this list, all day long, what would be the third activity that would contribute the most value to my business?” As a general rule of thumb, only focus on completing three tasks for the day. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to accomplish any more than that.

Enhancing your time management skills.

Time management should never be overlooked. Sure. It’s nice to have some downtime. But, managing your time is a surefire way to improve your business life.

The most obvious reason is that you’ll be able to achieve more in less time. Because you’re more productive, you’re ready to meet deadlines. You will also earn the reputation of someone who is never late and is reliable. I don’t know about you. But, that is someone that I would want to business with or retain if I were a business owner.

Additionally, time management can be beneficial to your health. Since you have the time to attend to your well-being and aren’t working excessive hours, you’re less stressed. You’re also able to find time to exercise, make healthy meals, meditate, or get enough sleep. And, because you aren’t behind on your work, you’re not as anxious.

To get you on the right path, here are the necessary time management skills that you should develop:

  • Work the hours that best suit you.
  • Keep a time log.
  • Focus only on what you do best.
  • Implement the “two-minute” rule.
  • Break your activities down into simple problems.
  • Don’t fall into the “urgency” trap.
  • Schedule “me” time.
  • Cluster similar tasks.
  • Identify and eliminate distractions.
  • Arm yourself with the right tools.

Feeling in-balance.

Work-life is often a perk that employees demand. Some studies have previously found that this was a top priority for demographics like millennials. But, it’s also top of mind for small business owners.

It’s easy to understand why. Even if you’re a workaholic and love what you do professionally, you also need time away from work.

The reasons vary from person-to-person. But, mainly when you don’t let work bleed into your personal life, you have a chance to rest and recharge. You can also spend time doing things that are truly important to you. As a result, when you return to work, you’ll be more focused and rejuvenated enough to persevere.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Thanks to technology, we’re expected to be on-call 24/7/365. Sometimes you need to be kept in the loop, especially when you have to address an emergency.

Some ways that this is possible is by maximizing your time at work, stop overcommitting, and not bringing work at home. You should also establish boundaries. For example, if you’re spending time with friends or family on a Saturday night, then don’t respond to any work-related correspondence.

Innovating, learning, and growing.

If you want to advance your career and stay ahead of your competitors, then innovating, learning, and growing must be the main priority for you professionally.

For example, you should always be brainstorming ways to improve a product, service, or process. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. But, you should be on the lookout for ways to update or upgrade these areas. It may make you more efficient and stand out from the pack.

What’s more, you should seek out opportunities to learn and grow both professionally and personally. As an example, if you were to enhance your skillset, you would be more proficient at your job. Not only will this make you more valuable, but it will also help you work smarter and not harder.

You should also stay up-to-date on the latest trends, technologies, and external factors that may influence you professionally. Again, besides making you more useful, this will also help you adept.

And you should also find ways to grow. For instance, you may want to improve your communication skills by taking a public speaking class. You can use this new talent to make your meetings more effective. You could also apply to seek out speaking engagements to help you become an authority figure.

Getting to know the people in your neighborhood.

You don’t have to get to know everyone in your neighborhood — unless you want to. But, when you’re surrounded by kids, sometimes you have to do things like watch the 50th anniversary special of Sesame Street. I’m not complaining. But, I do have this song stuck in my head now.

Anyway, your neighborhood, when it comes to your business life, would be your business partner, employees, customers, or investors. The reason? Well, it will help foster a more positive and collaborative work environment. You’ll also be able to ease the pain points of your customers. And, if you need funding, you’ll know which investors to connect with.

Growing your network.

Whether if you do this online or in-person, growing your network is a priority that I feel many of us neglect. After all, networking is another way to improve your skillset or stay abreast of the latest trends. It can also help you find mentors, partners, or clients.

If you’re job searching, networking is a great way to mingle with potential employers or get hooked up with a referral. And, if you are self-employed, networking can be used to build your brand.

Do a little digging and find local meetups or conferences that you should attend for the upcoming year. And block out specific times in your calendar to schedule a phone with an industry expert or interact with your audience on social media.

10 Types of Businesses That Can Benefit From Scheduling Software

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To your customers, your team, and your company’s bottom line, time is priceless.

Whether you run a deli or a software startup, you have to ensure that your team never misses a scheduled deadline or appointment. And these days, many customers would rather schedule appointments online as well. 

Still wondering if scheduling software is right for your business? Read on to learn about ten surprising industries that rely on it in their daily operations:

1. Medical clinics

Did you know that more than 50% of healthcare facilities now use online scheduling software? The medical industry is harnessing the power of automation to reduce the cost of no-shows and administrative overhead. In addition to the added convenience for patients, this digital capability allows doctors and healthcare professionals to better manage their hectic schedules, reducing burnout and employee turnover

2. Bars and restaurants

Online reservations are user-friendly for customers. To help them seat more guests, hosts and hostesses at many bars and restaurants use scheduling automation every day.

Through online scheduling software, eateries can help their patrons beat long waits — all while tracking their staff’s ever-changing schedules and availability. Plus, online scheduling platforms can be used to track eligibility for promotions and loyalty programs. 

3. Caterers and event planners

Businesses that provide event services or planning are responsible for organizing and tracking dozens of different schedules leading up to the big day. On paper, that’s tough if not impossible.

Online scheduling tools allow event planners to effectively manage different types of staff. They help event managers keep tabs on caterers, DJs, security personnel, and more. And many platforms have custom settings for how far in advance an event (or order) can be scheduled. 

4. Call centers

To provide stellar customer service, companies need to make contacting their reps a seamless process. With an online scheduling tool, customers can book appointments and phone calls from a widget or link in your staff’s email signatures

Given the fast-paced nature of the work, this feature is especially useful for call centers or teams dedicated to customer support. Online booking lets these businesses avoid over-scheduling while giving team members a tool for efficient time blocking and stress management.

5. Nonprofit organizations

Even nonprofits are utilizing scheduling automation to expand their mission and reach. Nonprofits have to manage a mix of volunteers, paid employees, and external stakeholders. They use appointment scheduling tools to keep schedules straight, freeing up the team to spend more time on things like donor newsletters and social media campaigns. 

6. Consultancies

Many people in professional services, such as law or finance, use scheduling software to increase the amount of face time they get with clients. Automation is particularly useful for booking initial consultations and meetings during non-core hours. A CPA during tax season might rely on an online scheduling tool to give people on the waitlist clarity around when they’ll be seen. Automation tools let them make use of every slot on their schedule. 

7. Salons and spas

With our modern, fast-paced lifestyles, it can be easy to forget appointments that are dedicated to self-care. Salons and spas that focus on beauty and wellness can decrease missed appointments with SMS and email reminders that are automatically sent from online scheduling software straight to their clients. This attention to detail only adds to the sense of luxury associated with these services, helping these companies make their customers feel like VIPs. 

8. Shipping and retail

From warehouses to supermarkets to specialty shops, companies in the B2C space see online scheduling as a game-changer. They use it to streamline shipping, receiving, and managing workers in the field.

Not only do scheduling automation platforms allow team members to share calendar access across locations, but they can be used to make out-of-office periods easier. Online scheduling systems can be configured to show certain team members as unavailable, minimizing confusion.

9. Home services

Whether a customer is experiencing an emergency plumbing issue or wants to schedule their yearly HVAC maintenance, online scheduling software provides easy access to at-home services. It also makes rescheduling or cancelling appointments easy, just in case another appointment conflicts with the initial service call. Customers can also book appointments from their mobile devices while at work or picking up the kids from school. 

10. Schools and education services

Online scheduling software is even being used to enhance the college experience. With many busy schedules among students and professors alike, scheduling automation is helpful for managing office hours, labs, library reservations, and more. Students who use scheduling tools get more out of their education, while professors and assistants can organize all their teaching commitments in one place. 

In every industry, scheduling software has value. The key is getting creative to make the most of it.

Create convenience for your customers. Simplify your employees’ lives. Minimize misunderstandings and double-bookings. There’s more than one reason to use scheduling software. What’s yours?

4 Business To-Dos to Tackle For Spring Cleaning

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Business professional sitting outside working on laptop next to spring flowers

Just as spring brings nature back to life, spring can also be a time to renew your business. Spring-cleaning your company can mean less clutter, more clients, and more time to interview prospective employees.

But unlike your home, spring-cleaning your business isn’t as simple as throwing things in the dumpster. Here’s how to be strategic about it:

1. Give your brand a fresh look. 

You know the saying: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Although this applies in certain contexts, your company’s brand is not one of them.

Ask yourself: Is our website outdated? Does our motto still ring true? Does our product’s packaging attract attention? If you’re second guessing the success of something, chances are it should be changed. 

According to Forbes contributor Jessica Kleinman, there are five words to live by during the rebranding process: research, input, goals, support and process. 

Rebranding brings drastic changes, so you must be prepared before making any decisions. Start by meeting with your team to talk about the pros and cons of your company’s brand. Compile the feedback, and then make the final call about what’s in your budget to improve. 

When announcing your plans, explain how you expect the company to benefit from the brand changes. Support is key: If your team isn’t behind the changes, make tweaks until you all agree. Build all those details into a brand style guide. 

2. Get organized. 

Spring means it’s time to kiss the office clutter goodbye. 

Start by throwing away anything that you no longer need. This means no more stacks of papers, capless pens, and broken staplers sitting on your desk. Next, find an organizing strategy that works for you. Try out color coding, filing documents chronologically, or digitizing old records. 

Once your physical space is decluttered to your liking, shift your sights to your schedule. This is the work of becoming a better time manager: Create a master list of the tasks on your calendar, decide on what’s important, and adopt a prioritization method. 

Just like the organization of your desk, how you shift your schedule requires you to decide on a system that works for you. You could use the chunking method (blocking out specific times for uninterrupted work) or the ABCDE method (assigning a letter to a task depending on importance), for example.

3. Reflect on old goals and create new ones. 

This business to-do is similar to a New Year’s resolution — except that the chances of success are hopefully greater.

Whether you’re assessing personal or team goals, it’s important to think about previous ones. Did you achieve them, or did you forget about them? Can they be altered and improved?

Whatever the answer, one helpful approach to goal reflection or setting is the SMART method. Pin down what your goal is and then follow the break down. 

A SMART goal should be:

  1. Specific: Achieve specificity by using the 6 Ws: who, what, when, where, which and why? If the goal doesn’t answer these, narrow it more. For example, would you rather “get more clients” or “increase your account volume by 50% in eight months”? 
  2. Measurable: From minutes spent on the phone to dollar amounts, use measurable parameters to anchor your goal.
  3. Attainable: Your goals should be within your reach. It’s important to challenge yourself, but be realistic and recognize your limitations.
  4. Relevant: Any goals set should align with the company’s mission. 
  5. Timely: Create a clear timeline with action items to work toward goal achievement. 

A goal with these five components has a greater chance of becoming a reality than one without them. And when your employees understand what, exactly, you want to achieve, they’ll be more likely to buy in. 

4. Plan a getaway. 

All work and no play isn’t sustainable. If you’ve been working hard, it’s time to reward yourself with that long-awaited vacation. 

To avoid inconveniencing yourself or coworkers, avoid overlapping out-of-office periods. Also, do any work you can ahead of time. Write down deadlines or delegate tasks for anything you can’t finish before taking off. 

Do your best to minimize the amount of work you’ll have to do when you get back. Vacations are a time to kick back and relax. They give you time to clear your head in order to hit the ground running once you return. Increased productivity, less stress, and better mental health lie on the other side of your trip. 

If you’re a city person, why not spend a few days in New York City or Chicago? For seclusion, opt for a backpacking trip through the wilderness or a yoga retreat. 

Don’t let spring pass you by before planting seeds for a stronger year. Plan ahead, focus on business needs, and don’t forget to take care of yourself as a person, too. 

Time Blocking 101: Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering Your Daily Schedule

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Weekly Planner

Let’s get down to brass tacks. You’re here because you’re on a journey to find a way to manage your time better while boosting your productivity. While there hundreds, if not thousands, of options to achieve this goal, one surefire technique is time-blocking.

If you’re not familiar with time-blocking, then you’ve come to the right place. In the following article, I’ll describe what time-blocking is, why it rocks, and guide on how to implement it into your daily schedule.

What is time blocking, and why is it effective.

“Time blocking is simply a time management technique where you set aside a specific amount of time for a particular task,” explains Calendar’s Howie Jones. “For example, instead of checking your phone every time you receive an email or social notification, you would do this at clearly defined times.” However, how you decide to block out your day is at your discretion.

For Jones, he sets aside a block to check his inbox and social media before diving into his work in the morning. “There’s another block after lunch,” he adds. “And, the final one is later in the afternoon before calling work a day.”

Others, such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk, are fans of micro scheduling where their entire day consists of five-minute blocks. But, a more common practice would be to reserve an amount of time, like around an hour, to complete an important task or attend a meeting. A short break follows it, usually no more than 20-minutes, before getting back to the grind.

That’s all well and good. But why is time-blocking so effective?

For starters, while useful at times, to-do-lists are inferior. Mainly this is because they don’t account for time. You may have ten items you want to accomplish today. But, if the first two take longer than expected, you’re never going to complete the rest. Because of this, we tend to tackle those more manageable and less critical tasks first, meaning those delicious frogs just sit there getting cold.

Moreover, time-blocking discourages you to multitask. “By scheduling chunks of time for a specific task or problem, you’re promoting deep focused work,” explains Jones. “It also helps you focus less on ‘shallow work,’ which is urgent, but not essential activities.”

Time blocking also fights backs against perfectionism and procrastination since there’s a time limit attached to your daily responsibilities. It also makes it easier for you to reject requests for your time. And, it helps you reflect on your priorities by giving you a document of what you did and did not accomplish in a specific timeframe.

Are you ready to harness the power of time-blocking? If so, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to help you finally take control of your daily schedule.

Step 1: Untangle your mind.

Before you start adding blocks of time to your calendar, you first need to determine how you’re going to fill them.

It would be like building a shelf from scratch — if you possessed such a talent. You need to do a lot of planning upfront. If not, you may have a shelf that serves no purpose because the dimensions are all wrong. But, if you knew that you wanted this shelf to hold your vinyl collection, then you would first lookup plans. Now you would purchase the right materials to meet your storage needs.

Like most of us, though, there are probably a million things you have to do swirling around in your head. So, get them out of there by doing a brain dump.

It’s a simple activity where you literally write down everything that you must do. You can use a pen and paper, an app like Evernote, or your phone’s note app. Start by listing your commitments like attending a meeting or handing in an assignment by a specific date. Other items to include here would be things like your morning ritual, daily commute, or anything pertaining to your goals.

You’ll also want to include things that you would like to do but haven’t yet committed to them. And, also throw in anything that you wouldn’t mind doing down the road.

You don’t have to do this daily. But it’s something that you should frequently. Personally, I think that this should be a weekly activity, like Friday afternoon or Sunday evening.

Step 2: Identify your priorities.

With your list in tow, it’s time to prioritize it.

Thankfully, if you broke your list down into must, want, and perhaps, you’re halfway there. But, you still need to analyze it so that you can identify the items that must get done this week. Anything else can either be scheduled for a later date, delegate to someone else, or erased from your list.

If you’re stuck because everything seems essential, here are a couple of strategies to prioritize your list:

  • Determine your MITs. These are no more than three things that absolutely have to get done today.
  • Use a priority matrix. Here, you would place everything on your list into the following quadrants: urgent and vital; necessary, but not urgent; critical, but not important; and neither urgent nor important.
  • Determine the value of your tasks with the ABCDE method. Just assign “A” to your most important task, “B” for important, “C” for perhaps, “D” equals delegate, and “E” is for eliminating.
  • The Pareto Principle. Focus on the handful of activities that deliver the most results.
  • Warren Buffett’s 2-list strategy. Jot down the 25 things you want to accomplish this week. Next, circle your top five and forget the rest.

Step 3: Prepare a daily blueprint.

Now that you’ve got your priorities figured out for the week let’s figure out where to place them in your calendar.

Your first option would be to work through your tasks in chronological order. Let’s say that you have then items that need to get down by Friday. Your first two tasks would be scheduled for Monday. Tasks three and four would be scheduled for Tuesday and so forth.

I like this. It’s pretty straightforward and not overwhelming. When I wake up on Monday, I know which fish to fry — as I do for the rest of the days of the week.

Of course, there are some considerations here. First, you need to estimate how long each of these tasks will take you. If each one eats up five hours, I doubt that you’ll complete both of them on the same day. It’s not that you can’t work a ten-hour day. But, that’s not feasible when you take into account breaks and distractions. In this case, you’re looking at more of a 12 plus hour day.

Another factor would be before commitments like conference calls, meetings, appointments, or hard deadlines. It’s going to be a challenge to tackle two large tasks when you’ve got two meetings already in your calendar.

And don’t forget to work around your energy levels. We all have different times when we’re most productive based on our own ultradian rhythms. Track your own so that you know when you’re most productive. As a general rule of thumb, we’re usually most alert and energetic a couple of hours after waking. Also, as the week goes on, energy levels begin to decrease.

With this in mind, you would want to schedule your most challenging tasks in the morning. You would then use the afternoon for less draining activities like meetings. Also, try to front-load your week so that you aren’t working on a high-objective item on Friday.

Step 4: Blockout your entire day.

Let’s take a breather here. I mean, I just threw a lot of information at you. But, we’re pretty much at the point you’ve all been waiting for — time blocking every day of your schedule.

Since you’ve already identified your priorities and came-up with a blueprint for your week, this shouldn’t be all that difficult. It probably goes something like this:

That’s an elementary daily schedule. But, I think you get the point. Your time has been accounted for the entire day. You’ve also blocked out time for your most important work and shallow tasks like email.

You’ve also dedicated chunks of time to your morning routine, daily commute, breaks, and family time. There’s even an unscheduled block of time just in case you didn’t complete your work in the morning, take care of back burner tasks, or you have to take care of an unexpected occurrence.

Step 5: Transition from block-to-block.

If you want to perfect the art of time blocking, then you must have buffers in-between each chunk of time. It’s unrealistic to believe that you’re going to jump immediately from one task to another. Your brain needs time to decompress and recharge.

What’s more, you need these transitional periods for things like traveling to a meeting. Let’s say that you have to go across town at 2 p.m. to meet with investors. You may have a meeting blocked out. But, if it takes you 20-minutes to get there, you should also block out from 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. It’s just a simple way to prevent you from accidentally scheduling something else that may cause you to run late to the meeting.

Step 6: Turn off and tune out.

Another way for time blocking to be useful is to eradicate those pesky distractions. Alright, eradicate might be a bit harsh. But, you get the idea. Distractions interrupt you from getting things done.

The main culprit? Your smartphone. Thankfully, you can block apps at certain times by setting limits on your phone or using tools like Freedom or FocusMe. You can also put your phone on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. And, if that doesn’t work, you can always keep your phone in another room.

Besides your smartphone, you may also get distracted by co-workers or your family if you work at home. Sometimes this is unavoidable. But, you could close your office door when you need to focus on work. If they don’t get the hint, place a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door or share your calendar with them so that they can when you’re free to chat.

I suggest that you keep a distraction log. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just make a note of what interrupted you and when. For example, if a noisy trash truck causes you to lose focus every Wednesday morning, put on a pair of noise-canceling headphones around this time.

Step: 7: Revise as necessary.

Finally, revise as needed.

To do this, review your calendar from the past week. How productive were you? What didn’t go as planned? For the upcoming week, move some blocks around to see if those changes were beneficial or not.

It would also be wise to use a tool like Calendar that can analyze how you’re spending your time thanks to the magic of machine learning. It can then make smart suggestions. For instance, it can keep tabs on your meetings and then recommend when they should take place, along with whom to invite.

6 Types of Meetings Entrepreneurs Should Have on Their Calendar Every Week

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Business professionals in a meeting.

You’ve got your business up and running. You’ve got a team nailed down. You have client work on the calendar. So what’s next?

That would be the meeting. 

Meeting should be used strategically, given how much team time they take. To maximize team productivity and communication, these six meetings are worth holding weekly:

1. The Brainstorm

If you’ve reflected on some current business practices and found that you’re in the market for something new, the next step is to develop some ideas. Don’t bother trying to scrape together some ideas over email; it’s best to do the work in person. 

To make brainstorms worth your while: 

  • Encourage your team to speak their minds. You can narrow down ideas later, but it’s difficult to get participation if every idea is shot down right away. 
  • The wilder the idea, the better. A wild idea can be made more realistic. Ideas that start small, though, tend to be harder to improve. Encouraging wildness can also keep the creative juices flowing during the meeting. 
  • Facilitate for efficiency. The point of brainstorming is to get as many ideas on the page as possible. However, you have to maintain some kind of structure: Have one conversation at a time, and write things down in a centralized place, such as a whiteboard. 

Having weekly brainstorming sessions will keep you and your team on your toes. Even if the ideas don’t become a reality right away, you’ll have an arsenal of things to choose from down the road. You can also use this time to workshop old ideas if you don’t need to come up with new ones. 

2. The Task Setter

The task-setting meeting is the time to put ideas into action. Think of it as the brainstorm’s older, more mature brother. 

Learning how to prioritize tasks is important in making the most of everyone’s time. The last thing you want is to focus on tasks that don’t help you reach your goals. One approach to task management that works well for task setting is the 4Ds technique:

  • Delete: Drop anything that isn’t time-sensitive or crucial to progress. 
  • Delegate: If you are not in the best position to take on a task, delegate it. Considering everyone’s strengths and weaknesses is important here. Explain the reasons for your choices, tell delegatees what they’ll be doing, and set deadlines appropriately. 
  • Defer: Some tasks can be pushed back if they aren’t as urgent as others. 
  • Do: If a task can be done quickly or needs to be finished soon, just get it done. 

3. The Status Update 

The status-update meeting is critical in determining whether the team’s actions are aligned with an overall goal. Not every update deserves its own meeting, but don’t be afraid to get everyone together once a week for a chat with the project manager. 

In this meeting, you can determine which team members are on top of things and which ones might be struggling. Luckily there are plenty of solutions if the issue is, for example, poor time management

How can you identify poor time management skills? Common signs include poor quality of work, missed deadlines, and unhealthy habits — such as getting too little sleep.

4. The Problem Solver 

You and your team should have talked about any challenges in the status update meeting. If there’s a big-picture on you couldn’t solve in that conversation, the problem-solving meeting can help you find a solution.

Whatever the problem, use this four-step framework to get to the bottom of it:

  1. Gather a list of potential causes of the challenges.
  2. Brainstorm some helpful resources. 
  3. Make a list of potential solutions or approaches. 
  4. Decide on recommendations for action by debating solutions and agreeing on one. 

5. The Sales Check-in 

Because the green keeps the business going, it’s important to give extra attention to sales. But these meetings, like any other, can lose you money and productivity if not done correctly.

Sales check-ins should be grounded in hard evidence. Be sure you bring at least one of three things — and ideally all three — to every sales check-in: data, feedback, or action. 

One topic to chat through at these meetings? How salespeople are following up with clients after a sale. Follow-ups can engage customers, leading to higher lifetime value. This can be as simple as inviting customers to webinars or more hands-on, such as volunteering with customers on a cause they support.

6. The Team Builder 

Team building is one of the most beneficial things you can encourage as a leader. It’s as critical, if not more, than talking through the numbers. 

When team members get to know each other more deeply, they get a better sense of one another’s strengths, weaknesses, fears, and capabilities. They enjoy working together more, improving efficiency while minimizing employee turnover. 

Team-building activities can range from chili cook-offs to icebreaker games. It’s up to you to decide what your team will enjoy.

Meetings may not always be fun, but they should always be valuable. These six meetings make sense to hold at least once a week. Can you think of any others?

Productively Managing an Executive’s Calendar

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Whether you’re an intern, assistant, or helping out a friend or family, you may be asked to help manage someone else’s calendar. That responsibility should never be taken lightly. They need their day to run as smoothly as possible to protect their business, reputation, and well-being. Here’s how to productively manage an executive’s calendar.

But, what if you’re new to calendar management? Well, here’s how you can effectively achieve that. And, as a perk, you can take this experience and apply it to your own life. Who knows? It may even help transform you into an effective leader yourself someday.

And, if you’re an executive who still manages their own calendar, then these tips will also apply to you.

Get to know your executive.

Imagine that it’s finally time for you to host your friends and family for a holiday feast or reunion. In all of your excitement, you probably didn’t take into consideration the dietary needs and preferences of your guests. Maybe someone is a vegan, while another suffers from celiac disease.

Did you also think about the distance that everyone has to travel to? If someone had to drive two hours to get to your house, having dinner at 8 p.m. may be too late for them if they weren’t staying over.

The point is, it takes a lot of planning to throw together a successful event. And, the same is true when it comes to an executive calendar.

You may be tempted to start filling their calendar however you like. But, remember, it’s your executive’s valuable time. That means you need to respect how they wish to spend it.

Spend some time shadowing them so that you know what their daily routine is like. Ask your boss when they prefer to have meetings or eat lunch. How do they prioritize their lists? When are they at peak productivity? How does your exec make time for their own well-being?

You could also review their past calendar to see how they spent their time.

Besides their individual inclinations, the rules of time management are undoubtedly different for employees and executives. But, you won’t know that if you don’t get actually to know your executive.

Think strategically.

There’s a misconception that when managing an executive calendar that you’re merely taking orders. They ask you to add a lunch date or schedule a team meeting, and that’s it. The thing is, to effectively manage an executive calendar, it’s the opposite.

You need to think broader and more strategically. Before filling up your boss’s calendar, you need to consider the bigger picture. Do the task event have a purpose. Does it align with their goals? What is the time commitment attached to the time request?

What’s more, you also have to realize that just because a slot is open doesn’t mean it’s available. For example, let’s say that there’s a blank block from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Because there isn’t anything scheduled, you book a conference call. But you didn’t notice that your boss has a meeting at 3 p.m. that’s on the other side of town. They wanted to leave that block open so that they could prepare and travel for that meeting.

Before adding something to their calendar, make sure that it’s not interfering with anything else on their calendar. You should also take into account travel time, jet lag, breaks, and work-life balance. For instance, avoid scheduling an urgent meeting on the day after they arrive home from an international trip or when it interrupts with their downtime.

Use a shared calendar.

There’s really no excuse for not having a shared calendar. A shared calendar should be readily accessible and come packed with benefits like keeping everyone in the loop. Besides, if your organization uses Office 365 or G Suite, then you already have a shared calendar at your fingertips.

Whenever someone asks what the executive’s availability is, send their calendar via email. Better yet, embed their calendar somewhere like the company’s website. It just avoids those lengthy back-and-forth communications when scheduling.

It’s essential to keep in mind, though, that you don’t want to share too much information. There’s no need for anyone else to know what your executive’s life is like outside of work. You should also customize the calendar by using the executive’s preferred view. You can also use color-coding or different fonts so that they can quickly identify calendar entries.

And, integrate the calendar with tools like Calendar. It works with Google, Outlook, and Apple calendars. But, it also used machine learning to make smart suggestions on how to schedule your executive’s time.

Run a better medical practice appointment schedule.

You don’t have to be involved with a medical practice to run your schedule like one. After all, medical practices must maximize their schedules to keep patients satisfied and keep the office running smoothly.

So, how can this be achieved? Well, here are some tips that accomplish this goal:

  • Always start on time. If meeting beings at 1 p.m., then that’s precisely when it should start. To prevent a late start, suggest that everyone arrives ten minutes early. Even better, the meeting invite could have a start time of 12:50.
  • Plan appropriately. A doctor’s office typically sees a bump during specific times of the year, as flu season. Knowing this, they make sure that they have enough help and resources to handle the increase in patients. For you, review past calendars to see when your executive is most in-demand so that you don’t fill their calendar with less essential objectives.
  • Forge a timeline. Medical practices know in-advance how many patients they can see per day. For you, be real on how much you and your executive can accomplish realistically every day — including how many meetings can be scheduled.
  • Group similar patients. It’s more useful for medical professionals to see patients with similar conditions or histories at the same time. Mainly because it keeps your boss in the right mindset. Also, it prevents them from continually putting away and getting right the same equipment. We call this batching. It’s pretty much the same concept where you group similar activities together.
  • Schedules should reflect the patient mix. “If you have 70% Fee for Service (FFS) patients and only 30% are insurance-based, then your schedule should reflect that,” explain the team over at liveClinic. “Block out only 30% of your daily schedule for capitated patients and leave the rest for open Fee-For-Service patients.” How does this apply to you? It’s similar to the Pareto Principle, where 80% of your executive’s outcome is produced by 20% input.
  • Create organized triage. Medical professionals also have to handle emergencies. In other words, they will only see a patient at the last minute, depending on the “the symptom, appointment urgency, and appointment length.” On your end, learn how to prioritize so that your boss doesn’t fall into the urgency trap.
  • Be open all day. Of course, this isn’t possible. Even though leaders are always “on,” they need downtime to recharge and rest. To protect this time, without completely neglecting their responsibilities, use automated tools that could take care of customer service inquiries. You could also create an out-of-office message informing the other party when to expect a response or what steps to decide if it’s an absolute emergency.

Update their calendar in real-time.

An employee asks if they can schedule a one-on-one. You look at the calendar and see that the executive is free next Wednesday at 3 p.m. Both of you agree on that date and time. Unfortunately, you get sidetracked and don’t add this to their calendar. In the meantime, someone else requests this same date and time. It’s free, so you go ahead and book that event. That’s definitely disrespectful to the employee.

The sooner you had a calendar entry, the better. It’s a surefire way to prevent conflicts.

Also, if an event has to be canceled or rescheduled, make a note of that in the calendar and notify the other people it impacts.

Bonus tip: Even if something hasn’t been set in stone, maybe the other party has to double-check their availability, add it to the calendar anyway.

Foresee the future.

Obviously, you don’t possess this power. But, there are simple ways to make it appear as if you do.

Stay on top of traffic and weather reports. I would just set up Google Alerts so that this doesn’t slip your mind. The reason you want to do this is that both can impact travel.

But, there’s more to this then being weather or traffic reporter. You also need to be their timekeeper. Do they have a conference call in fifteen minutes? Either shoot them an instant message or set up a calendar reminder to give them a head’s up. If they’re in a meeting, provide them with a signal when they have five minutes to bring the meeting to an end.

You could even do small things like having lunch ideas prepared. And, know which calendar entries can be pushed back or rescheduled. Knowing and understanding the motivations of your exec can be tricky when everything is a priority. But, date-specific entries or essential and urgent tasks usually take place before anything else.

One final word of advice here. Allow for some flexibility in your exec’s calendar. That means not overbooking the boss’s schedule where every minute of their day has been scheduled. Instead, leave some blank spaces so that they can attend to an emergency or have some free time to spend with their employees.

Review. Then review again.

Be proactive by reviewing their calendar frequently. Ideally, you should double-check your exec’s calendar every evening (right when you check your own calendar — or at least first thing in the morning. That may sound like overkill. But, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. For instance, let’s say you notice that a meeting invitee had to cancel at the last minute. You need to let your executive know the information as quickly as possible so that they’re not still planning their day around this event.

I’d also suggest that you review their calendar for the next two weeks. It allows you to address any possible conflicts and make sure that everything is still on track.

And, most importantly, make sure that their calendar has been successfully synced across all of their devices.

Find a system that works for both of you.

Finally, find a system that works for both of you. Even though you might do everything digitally, the other person may not be as tech-savvy. As such, you may want to print out their calendars for them so that they can still access their schedules offline.

While this takes some trial and error? Certainly. But, once you get into a groove, it will make managing an executive calendar much easier.

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