All posts by Gunjan Saini

5 Mishaps Businesses Can Avoid By Using Scheduling Software

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Scheduling Software

There are a lot of bumps in the road that businesses travel every day. It could be a difficult customer interaction, an invoice that hasn’t been paid, or even an internet outage. More often than not, however, the mishaps businesses can encounter have to do with time management.

If you learn to master your time, you can avoid dozens of unfortunate circumstances every week. Time management is harder than it seems, but there are solutions at your disposal that can make everything easier. Scheduling software is one of the best tools you can add to your business operations.

Below we discuss five common problems that businesses regularly deal with. We also explore how scheduling software can provide instant relief when they face future problems of the same variety.

1. Appointment Overbooking

The first mishap is one you’re likely familiar with: appointment overbooking. This can be an honest mistake that occurs when the time of appointments is noted down incorrectly by an employee with good intentions. Even so, that mistake can snowball into a logistical mess for an appointment-based business and its customers.

Scheduling software makes it nigh well impossible to overbook appointments. The program will simply stop you from booking two appointments in the same time slot. This acts as an effective safety net on occasions when a busy workday causes you to accidentally overlook future scheduled appointments.

2. Late Starts and Delays

Few things will frustrate your clientele more than arriving on time to their appointment only to be faced with a delayed appointment. Sometimes this occurs due to circumstances out of your control. However, you should do everything you can to make sure every appointment starts on time.

One way this can be accomplished is by including buffer time in between bookings. You can set this up with your scheduling software. Appointments will only be able to be booked based on the parameters you set. A 15-minute buffer in between bookings gives you a little wiggle room to work around late arrivals, chattier-than-average customers, and other complications.

3. No-Shows and Late Arrivals

Speaking of late arrivals, not all of your customers will arrive to their appointments on time. While you might feel like there’s nothing you can do to prevent this, you’d actually be mistaken. Scheduling software has a few tricks up its sleeves that can get your customers to keep a tighter schedule.

One such trick is the use of appointment reminders. Well-timed and well-written reminders ensure that appointment times aren’t forgotten and are more accurately kept. This process can be automated and easily adjusted through scheduling software. You can send reminders to email inboxes, cell phones, or even through a company app.

This will also help with those pesky no-shows. While a no-show appointment doesn’t jumble up your schedule like a late arrival, no-shows can cost your business time and money. Those same appointment reminders will help keep customers accountable to their commitments or at least give them ample time to cancel or adjust their bookings.

4. Employee Scheduling Errors

Scheduling software isn’t just useful for appointments. This tool will also come in handy for managing your employees. Especially in a larger organization, avoiding scheduling errors with your employees will save you a lot of headaches.

Using scheduling software, you can lay out the exact shifts for every single employee. This will include your full-time employees, part-time workers, and even any contractors you have enlisted for specific projects. You’ll have a detailed overview of every workweek that employees can also easily access to view their own shifts.

Better yet, scheduling software makes asking for time off or switching shifts with others easier for your employees. When a team member takes time off, it no longer needs to be an ordeal that has your entire staff scrambling to make the arrangements work.

5. Meeting Mishaps

One last note on managing your team involves scheduling and executing team meetings. More often than not, companies waste time and money by holding meetings that are too frequent, inefficient, unnecessary, or a combination of all three. Master your meeting planning by using scheduling software.

With this software at your fingertips, you can see just how far apart your meetings are spaced and when the best time to schedule your next one will be. You will also have access to employee schedules to get the timing down just right.

Last but not least, scheduling software will help keep your meetings concise. You can use the software to ensure that meetings don’t run too long and that they have been sufficiently planned. The reminder feature may come in handy here as well.

The difference you’ll see in your business before and after adding scheduling software will be massive. Now is the perfect time to add this tool to your arsenal to improve your company’s efficiency and your customers’ satisfaction.

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5 Ways to Make Time for a Summer Vacation

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summer vacation

Summer vacation is approaching, the sun is staying out longer, and you’re itching to take a well-deserved break. But unfortunately, the fact that you’re taking a vacation doesn’t mean that life will pause while you’re gone. You’ll need to make sure that everything you’re involved with can go as smoothly as possible without you.

That will take some doing, but it’s far from impossible. Here are some ways to get ready — both at work and at home — before you head out for summer vacation.

1. Manage Your Project Timelines

The first thing to do is to work with your team to ensure that your projects are on track and will stay on track while you’re gone. Which parts of them are you responsible for, and how can you make sure required tasks get done before you leave (or can wait until you return)?

Have these discussions with your team to keep everyone up to date and take all needs into account. To whom can you most efficiently delegate necessary tasks without exceeding people’s bandwidth?

To keep your office running smoothly, it’s important to communicate and consider the energy demands of everyone’s work when handing off responsibilities. One colleague may have capacity to take on some of your work, while others could be stretched to their limits. It may be more beneficial overall to create a more flexible project timeline than to introduce more pressure.

2. Communicate With Your Team

Coordination, communication, and camaraderie are key to efficient teamwork, so make sure you’ve taken the time to establish these foundations. Make yourself available for team members to come to you at any point to discuss duties they’ll be handling while you’re away. Are there any questions they’re likely to have that you can answer in advance? What concerns do they anticipate, and how can you alleviate them or help them feel better about them?

Great communication also involves sharing any important resources and maintaining an open conversation regarding deliverables and deadlines. If you’re already relying on a robust project management system, you can count on your tech stalwart to keep things humming along in your absence. This centralized platform will make project progress visible to all and ensure the necessary handoffs occur even when you’re not there to oversee them.

3. Designate a Point of Contact

When you’re gone and can’t be reached, there are bumps in the road or questions that need answering. All the advance preparation in the world can’t prevent problems from occasionally cropping up. In case team members have issues they can’t resolve on their own, designate a reliable point of contact who can help people on your behalf. This can be a close co-worker or another experienced employee whom you’ve brought up to speed on your ongoing projects.

The role of a point of contact is to answer questions and fulfill emergency responsibilities in your stead. Their goal should be to ensure people leave you alone during your summer vacation so you can relax.

In the event that you must be reached, your point of contact can be the person — and the only person — to contact you. It’s one thing to hear from your POC; it’s quite another to have a dozen team members peppering you with urgent texts during your trip. By specifying a point person, you’ll keep distractions to a minimum.

4. Tend to Prior Commitments

You likely have time-sensitive responsibilities that can’t be avoided in all areas of your life. For example, you might have a health issue you’d like to see a doctor for or a plumbing issue in your home that needs resolving. Check these things off before your departure to prevent them from occupying your thoughts during your break.

This can be easier said than done, considering you only have so much time and you’re using much of it to get ahead on various work tasks. However, if you embrace some scheduling and prioritization techniques, you’ll be better able to square away your responsibilities at work and home before you head off on your vacation. If you run out of time, plan to reschedule critical meetings or appointments when you get back.

5. Prepare Your Home for Your Absence

So you got that leaky faucet repaired, but that’s not the only way you’ll need to prepare your house for your absence during summer vacation. If you have plants and/or pets, you’ll need to line up someone to care for them when you’re not there. You’ll want to set a vacation hold with the postal service and stop delivery of any papers. Alternatively, you could engage a house-sitter to watch your property and collect your mail.

To ensure you don’t kill your vacation buzz immediately upon return, tidy up before you go so you won’t come back to a dirty house. Turn your thermostat down (or up) to save electricity, and switch your gas water heater to the pilot setting. If you’ll be away for a while and won’t have a house sitter, you might even consider turning off the water during that period.

Ultimately your vacation is about you taking the time that you deserve to refresh and recharge. Taking care of all of the above beforehand serves to remove as many worries from your mind as possible. After all, it won’t feel like a break if you’re dealing with work and home responsibilities the entire time. The more time you devote to preparations beforehand, the more time you’ll have to relax on your trip.

How to Set Up Your Employees for Success

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How to Set Up Employees Success

Managing a team can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s a challenge that must be taken seriously. As a manager or team leader, it is your responsibility to set your employees and team members up for success. Their performance will reflect on your capabilities as a leader.

There are many ways for you to help your employees reach the next level, but is there a best way? That largely depends on your team and their needs. Consider implementing these ideas to help your employees be more successful than ever.

Provide Easy Access to Helpful Resources and Guides

There are so many advantages you can extend to your employees beyond a regular paycheck. To set them up for success, providing additional resources is a must. For example, many full-time employees get access to benefits packages, such as health insurance and retirement contributions, so they don’t have to seek out these things individually.

The resources you supply to your employees can go far beyond the basics. Consider making safety and training manuals easily accessible to your team. Referring to this information may help employees improve their job performance without the need for a formal training meeting or direct supervision.

Set Them Up With Project Management Software

It’s amazing how the addition of one simple tool can completely transform how your employees work. Implementing project management software may help your team increase productivity and improve efficiency. Using this program will make it so much easier for your employees to succeed every single day.

Project management software became more popular during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. With many companies shifting to a remote workforce, this tool allowed team members to effectively communicate and collaborate even when working from separate locations. The same software is helpful for teams that are hybrid or in person, too.

With project management software, you can store important documents, send instant messages to anyone within the organization, and plan out projects in detail with assigned roles, deadlines, and to-do lists. These functions will streamline so much of what your employees are already doing.

Help Them Manage Their Time

No one likes to be the person who snaps at employees to get back to work. Instead of resorting to such behavior, try teaching your team members to manage their time more effectively. Higher efficiency, due to improved time management, will allow for more lightheartedness in the office, along with many other benefits to job performance.

Team scheduling software is an easy place to start. This will make shift scheduling simple, which is especially useful for companies with numerous part-time employees and inconsistent schedules. Team calendars, scheduling links, and time management training are other measures to take into consideration.

Provide Excellent Hiring, Onboarding, and HR

Setting your employees up for success begins the day they are hired. Your hiring and onboarding process determines how quickly new hires can hit the ground running and how supported they feel right out of the gate. A good onboarding process will also help you maintain higher retention rates, allowing you to continue working with the same team long-term.

When hiring, be sure to establish fair expectations during the interview process. Be honest about the nature of the job and what you expect from the role the new hire will fill. Being transparent about your company and its operations also helps new employees be better prepared when gearing up for their first day.

Onboarding is the process of getting a new member of the organization trained and acclimated as quickly and effectively as possible. A great way to do this is to run a mentorship program. A veteran employee can take a new hire under their wing to answer their questions and teach them how to complete tasks efficiently. Mentorship also enables new team members to create friendships early on for quick team-building and camaraderie that will lead to your team’s success.

Keep in Touch

In addition to everything else you do, it’s important to check in regularly with each of your employees. Implementing weekly or monthly check-ins will help with accountability and progress reporting. It also gives you numerous opportunities to touch base with each team member and ask for their feedback on various topics.

Your employees have a pretty good idea of what they need to help them succeed and can share with you a different perspective on workplace matters. For instance, you might have no idea that the breakroom microwave needs to be replaced because you never use it. While that may be a small and silly example, the point still stands. Keeping in touch with employees will allow them to communicate these types of concerns and other more important issues.

Constant communication between management and employees is essential for success. Listening to your employees’ feedback can lead to innovative ideas that improve your business and increase the trust shared between both sides.

When your employees succeed, you succeed. Give some of these tips a try and watch how your employees grow and improve within your organization.

Image Credit: Alexander Suhorucov; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Ways to Spring-Clean Your Business Processes

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4 Ways Spring Clean Business Processes

Spring cleaning isn’t necessarily the year’s most fun activity, but it’s certainly one of the most important. We all need a little motivation to clean those hard-to-reach areas and finally organize the coat closet we’ve avoided all year. After all the hard work, it’s nice to feel more comfortable in our homes again.

For business owners, spring cleaning is for much more than just routine tidying and organizing. Businesses need to continue to improve and become more efficient if they want to remain relevant with their customers. If you’re not spring cleaning your business processes, you can fall behind.

This spring, it’s time to look for ways to streamline and improve your business processes. This means keeping the processes that help your businesses to be more efficient and getting rid of what’s not working so you can take on more customers, retain new and existing ones, and increase business revenue. Let’s get started:

1. Out With the Old

It can be unfortunately easy to fall into the trap of amassing subscription services with the intent to use all of them. However, more often than not, there will be at least one service that you continue to pay for without getting much value in return. You’re going to have to learn to let go of some of these services even if it’s difficult to do so.

Start by inventorying all of the services you pay for. Include every piece of customer relationship management software, payment program, and streaming service listed under your business. Which ones are you actually using regularly? If your knowledge management software is only getting updated once every month or two, you’re probably better off saving that money and canceling the subscription.

Even if some of the products you have look useful on paper, too many moving parts can be difficult to manage and even counterproductive. Your business will run a lot more smoothly when it only has what is necessary pushing it forward.

2. In With the New

In some cases, your problem might be that you’re not using enough subscription software services to your advantage. Technology is wonderful, and it can add a lot to your business when implemented properly. In this scenario, spring cleaning is accomplished by adding something new.

Take online appointment software, for example. This tech solution will keep track of customer information and make it much easier for customers to book appointments on their own. You can get rid of stacks of paper and can free up your phone lines by enabling more self-service. Just by adding this one solution, you can make your business process flow a lot more easily.

Be careful not to overload your business, though, or you’ll have to go back to step one again. Less can be more in some cases, but something is almost always better than nothing.

3. Get an Audit

A business audit will put a fresh set of eyes on the inner workings of your organization. A trained professional can take a look at your business and tell you exactly where your inefficiencies lie and give recommendations on how to fix them. Just having their expert opinion and insight can be a helpful place to start.

An auditor can also tell you what you’re doing right. In the process of spring cleaning your business processes, you don’t want to inadvertently mess with something that was working before. Your audit will help you take note of the good aspects of your business processes so you can preserve and enhance them.

An annual business audit may be the spring tradition that your company needs to reach the next level. Such audits can help you stay on top of your game by placing a trusted professional by your side for guidance and support.

4. Reevaluate Your Goals

The goals that you set in the first year you started your business are probably outdated now. When your goals change, so should your processes. Otherwise, you’ll end up treading water instead of making real progress forward.

When you launched your business, your goal might have simply been to break even and get back your investment. Once you’ve accomplished that, your next goal should be to start turning a profit. In order to do so, you’ll need to make changes to your business processes that either cut down on expenses or generate more revenue.

Inflation must also be taken into account. Prices fluctuate over time, and the business process that worked years ago might be too expensive to maintain now. With the rising price of gas, for example, in-person sales calls may need to go virtual. Not only can you make your business more efficient with process changes like these, you can help it to become more cost-effective as well.

Spring only lasts so long, so make some plans to start cleaning up your business processes as soon as you can. This will put you in a great position for success throughout the rest of the year.

Image Credit: Julia Filirovska; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Time Management Hacks That Will Restore Your Work-Life Balance

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5 Time Management Hacks Restore Work Life Balance

The widespread shift to remote work prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has had an erosive effect on the boundaries between work and life. While many have found work-from-home arrangements to be incredibly beneficial, they can blur these lines if you aren’t careful. The result is an “always-on” mindset that can upset your work-life balance.

Whether you’re in the office or at home, there is a solution. It involves consciously separating your work from the rest of your day — and managing your work time well so your personal time can remain free from work-related concerns.

1. Create a More Productive Workspace

The key to keeping work from seeping into your personal life is to do that work as efficiently as possible. That starts with creating a workspace that is conducive to your productivity needs.

Set up your desk with efficiency in mind. If a second monitor would keep you from having to switch repeatedly between scores of open tabs, get one. If jotting down notes sparks your creativity, have a notepad handy. Keeping a store of snacks and a bottle of water at hand will prevent mid-morning wooziness and the resulting productivity dip. Consider your organizational habits and determine how you can refine them for a more efficient workflow.

Most importantly, make an effort to isolate this space from the rest of your day as much as possible. If you have a dedicated room for your home workspace, leave your laptop there and close the door at the end of the workday. If your WFH office is one end of the kitchen table, close your laptop and remove papers and files to a “work box” when you knock off for the day. Whatever approach you take, the point is to help yourself distinguish your work from end-of-day relaxation.

2. Eliminate Outside Distractions

Another way to work more productively — and thus ensure your personal time stays your own — is to reduce distractions as best as you can. Once you put the first tip into practice, you’ll probably have eliminated several attention drains already. But others — outside noises, communications from others, etc. — you can’t simply prevent. You can, however, decide how you and your technology should respond.

When you’re on the clock, silence all unnecessary notifications you might receive and let friends and family know you’re working. If the neighbor’s lawn mower or chatty family members are distracting, invest in some noise-canceling headphones or listen to a speech-blocking noise generator. Anything inessential that you can’t prevent from drawing your focus away from work can likely be mitigated in some way.

3. Use Time Blocking

Time blocking is a method in which you set aside a predetermined chunk of time on your schedule to get particular tasks done. By grouping work by type — say, answering all your email at once or scheduling an hour to knock out the last section of a sales report — you eliminate task switching and enable more focused work.

Time blocking has another advantage that is particularly helpful to the perfectionists among us. If you’re prone to giving a paragraph another pass or running the numbers one more time, the knowledge that the clock is ticking will encourage you to wrap things up in the appointed time. Time blocks don’t need to be long — in fact, smaller chunks may work best if you need some external time pressure to get tasks done in an efficient manner.

Another benefit of time blocking is that it doesn’t have to be a merely personal experience. You can put an hour block on your calendar that announces you’re occupied at that time. If co-workers look to see whether you’re free, they’ll instead see that you’re busy and hold off on reaching out until after your task is complete.

4. Disconnect When the Day Ends

Work creeping into your personal time is common and hard to avoid. By implementing the productivity tips above, you’ll be better able to check critical tasks off your workday to-do list, increasing the likelihood that your evening will be your own.

When your work has set hours, there is no more effective method for keeping it confined than fully disconnecting from all work notifications, communications, and platforms once those hours end. If you work in an office, join the daily end-of-the-day exodus. Otherwise, you’ll be giving away your free time — which is utterly invaluable to your mental health and work-life balance.

If you work from home, you’ll have to rely on yourself to disconnect when the workday is over. Set yourself a timer for when to turn off email notifications and set your Slack status to unavailable. Receiving various notifications may not feel like a problem, but they can keep you distracted from yourself and your loved ones. Allowing them will only damage the quality of your free time, further harming your work-life balance and making it harder to relax.

5. Take Your Personal Time Seriously (After a Fashion)

Now that you’re disconnected, what should you do? Make sure to take this time seriously — by which we mean doing what relaxes you the most. Your personal time is valuable, but that doesn’t mean you should stress yourself out trying to fill it with “meaningful” activity. If all you want to do is kick back and watch TV, then that’s the best way to spend your time.

Your situation will vary depending on whether you have family or other obligations, but it’s important to commit to having time of your own. If that means binge-watching the second season of “Bridgerton” rather than writing the Great American Novel, so be it!

It’s entirely too easy to let your work life bleed into your personal one, but you need to resist that impulse. Taking time for yourself is the best way to recharge so that when you’re back to work the next day, your productivity will be running on a full battery.

Image Credit: Eunice Lui; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Make Sure Your Business Is Running As Productively As Possible

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Make Sure Business Running Productively as Possible

Starting a business entails more than just having a good idea. You could have the best new product of the century, but your business can still flop if you’re not running it properly. Efficiency and productivity are nearly as important as offering high-quality products and services.

There’s also a fine line between being busy and being productive. Learning to differentiate between the two and lean into the latter will be key to growth and success in your business. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your business is running as productively as possible:

1. Define the Needs of Your Customers

Start by assessing whether your customers’ needs have changed since you started your business. Since we live in very uncertain times, consumer needs are constantly evolving. If your current business model no longer fits these needs directly, your operation won’t be able to run as productively as possible.

One way to define the needs of your customers is to simply ask them yourself. They know what they want better than anyone else. You can include a survey link to physical and digital receipts or even send an email to your most loyal customers to request their feedback. You can’t work productively if you have the wrong goals.

2. Implement Changes as Necessary

If you find out that your customers’ needs have changed, your business must change with them. In particular, you should be looking at changes to your operation that will allow you to meet those needs more efficiently. Even without direct feedback, looking for positive changes is something you should always be doing.

This might include implementing new online appointment software that makes it easy for customers to make bookings or getting a new program to aid in online transactions. You might be doing fine enough without these additions, but they’ll only make your business better as you add them to your system of operations. Complacency can be dangerous, especially as other businesses are likely making the changes that your customers are looking for.

Don’t be afraid to try something new in an effort to make your business as productive as possible. In the worst-case scenario, your investment may not yield the improvements you expected. So do away with the change and learn from your mistakes.

3. Learn How to Delegate

If you’re running a top-heavy organization, it will be nearly impossible to reach maximum productivity. Successful business owners and leaders know how to delegate certain tasks to others rather than trying to do everything on their own. More can be accomplished when the workload is dispersed more evenly.

Some task delegation may require new hires. For example, your growing startup might need a full-time marketing lead or accounting expert to take some of that responsibility off of you. With another member on your team to complete those tasks, you have more time to work on other projects and get more done.

The hardest part of delegation is learning to trust others. Not everyone will do things the same way you do, but you have to learn to trust their judgment. Trust can be built through consistent communication with your employees. In addition, providing the necessary training can give you the peace of mind that your employees are well-equipped to take on any task that you assign them.

4. Undergo a Business Audit

There are several reasons why you should consider having a business audit performed. Sometimes all you need is a second set of eyes to optimize your business operations. When it comes to productivity, a qualified auditor can look for inefficiencies in your business and provide suggestions on how to fix or mitigate them.

Other reasons to get a business audit are to review your cybersecurity, scout out potentially fraudulent activity, or obtain certifications required to take your business to the next level. A successful audit will also look good to investors if you’re planning on seeking a funding round for your small business.

5. Automate Processes and Tasks

The true secret for maximum productivity is business automation. If you’re able to automate certain business processes, the tasks they involve can be completed hands-free. Some tasks can even be accomplished outside of business hours without the need for direct supervision.

Let’s say you implement that online appointment software. This will allow customers to look up appointment times and create their own bookings. Those appointment slots will be automatically entered into your business calendar. You no longer need to have someone on the phone to confirm every single appointment your customers make.

Other forms of automation include email marketing, billing, and everything from data analytics to supply chain management. Thanks to automation, your daily to-do list will be a lot shorter, but you’ll still accomplish all of the same important tasks.

Above all else, making sure your business is running as productively as possible requires consistent effort. Never settle where you currently stand. Continue to strive for improvement, and your business will elevate its productivity all along the way.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Time Management Myths You Don’t Want to Fall For

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Time Management Myths Don't Fall For

Your time is extremely valuable. You need to treat it as such. Unfortunately, there are several time management myths that might cause you to use your time poorly despite your best intentions.

There’s no universal time management method that everyone will agree with, but there are some pitfalls you should be aware of. These common myths can actually do more harm than good if you’re not aware of the fallacies they present. Here are four time management myths you’d do best to turn aside:

1. Your Self-Worth Is Determined by Your Productivity

There are many people who will let you know your worth as a person is determined by how much you get done in a day’s time. While it’s good to try to be productive every day, this statement is too extreme. You shouldn’t beat yourself up just because one day isn’t as productive as the last.

Not every single day in your calendar needs to be jam-packed with to-do list items and deadlines for you to feel like the day was a success. There will always be something to do every day that you won’t have time for, so pushing yourself to achieve the last few items you weren’t able to complete is not worth the mental strain. They can be added to tomorrow’s to-do list, and you should pat yourself on the back for the things you were able to accomplish today.

Another dangerous aspect of this mindset concerns self-care. If you’re placing value solely on the number of boxes you can check on a to-do list, you’re not going to be doing a good job maintaining your mental and physical health. Don’t be afraid to slow things down every once in a while to avoid burnout and keep your spirits high during the long trek of life.

2. There’s No Such Thing as Work-Life Balance

Saying that work-life balance doesn’t exist is a false statement, plain and simple. Work-life balance is not only possible to achieve, but should also be encouraged. People who tell you otherwise are probably approaching time management — life, even — incorrectly.

The secret to work-life balance is to create definite boundaries between your job and your personal life. When you’re at work, you should devote all of your time and attention there. When you’re at home, you should shift gears and focus entirely on your family and yourself. Trying to constantly mix the two simultaneously can get messy.

You can set boundaries and stick to them by planning your time more intentionally. By using an online calendar you can add time slots for a range of activities, from “conference call” to “date night” and even some “me time.” Stick to the designated time slots each day and ask others to respect your time. This will make it easier to create the work-life balance you seek.

3. This Time Management Technique Always Works

There are many different time management techniques crafted by very intelligent people. The problem comes not in trying someone else’s technique, but in assuming the same approach to time management will work just as well for you. Time management isn’t as amenable to copy-paste solutions as some people might lead you to believe.

For example, many productivity gurus will recommend that you start each day by “eating the frog.” By this, they mean that you should choose your hardest, most important task and knock that one out first. They claim that this will ensure you get your critical work done at a time when — they assume — you’re mentally freshest.

But maybe you’re not a morning person. Perhaps starting off with an arduous, complex task will cause you to stall out, leaving you discouraged and unable to move forward with your other work. In that case, you might be better off starting with a “quick win” instead. Accomplishing a worthwhile but less daunting assignment may give you the boost you need to fly through the rest of your day’s responsibilities — frog and all.

Don’t be afraid to try multiple time management techniques to see what works best for you. If time blocking doesn’t fit your time management style, it’s not a hopeless endeavor. You might find success with the Pomodoro technique, the Eisenhower Matrix, or a combination of several time management tactics that fits your specific needs.

4. Multitasking Helps You Get More Done

The ability to multitask is often seen as a strength. However, multitasking can actually be an ineffective way to approach time management. You might not even get more accomplished by multitasking, despite what many tend to believe.

The problem with multitasking is that it divides your attention between projects. This may cause the quality of your work to go down for every task you’re working on. Multitaskers are more prone to mistakes that take time to correct, completely eliminating any headway they achieved in the first place.

It’s almost always better to approach each of your tasks individually. Your focused effort will allow you to complete each one faster and more effectively. Quality is typically valued over quantity, especially when tasks are done right the first time.

Whenever you read or receive time management advice, be sure to think it over thoroughly, taking into account your own temperament and needs. By identifying the time management practices that truly work for you — not just those that are supposed to work — you’ll be able to use your limited time more wisely.

Image Credit: Anete Lusina; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Keep Your Office Running Smoothly During Spring Break

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How to Keep Office Running Smoothly Spring Break

Spring break is known for crazy beach parties and exotic getaways. But for many people, spring break means business as usual. For your business, this means managing your team and operations during one of the more interesting times of the year.

With so many people out of school or taking time off from work, there are a lot of adjustments you need to make to make this week a successful one. Here’s a little advice to help you get through the break:

Avoid Internal Miscommunication

Before spring break even begins, communicate with your team and make sure everyone is on the same page. Everyone should know who is taking time off during the break and who will be taking their place to complete tasks and manage workflows. When there’s proper communication in place, nothing will fall through the cracks.

One idea you can implement is designating an out-of-office contact who is in the loop about current projects. They can be a quick phone call or message away when an employee has a question about a task that the out-of-office employee normally handles. That person can enjoy their spring break without leaving the rest of their team high and dry.

Schedule Everything

A good schedule will keep your business on the right track even when spring break takes a lot of people out of your orbit. For instance, you should have your employees’ schedules set well in advance. If workers are trying to ask for time off at the last minute, things will get complicated rather quickly.

Whether you use scheduling software or appointment software, just keep in mind that it’s absolutely essential to plan. It’s also important to have a collaborative schedule that the entire team has access to. This can help avoid unnecessary questions about where someone is during spring break, when they return, and who is scheduled to work over the break.

You won’t always be able to stick to your perfectly organized schedule. Unexpected events will occur, and you’ll have to make adjustments along the way. Having an established schedule will make it easier to make those adjustments and roll with the punches.

Keep Customers in the Loop

As you make adjustments to prepare for the upcoming spring break, don’t forget to keep your customers in the loop. For example, if you have several employees taking time off, you may want to post a notice that you are unable to accept as many appointments or take care of as many customers during this time. If customers know this is the case beforehand, you won’t get backlogged by frustrated customers assuming that business is running as usual.

Many businesses keep their customers in the loop through social media posts. This is a great way to connect with customers as well as increase your visibility to potential new customers. However, not everyone will be checking social media pages for business updates. You should also be updating your company website regularly, especially if you’re dealing with online appointment bookings. An email newsletter can also help inform customers of upcoming changes they need to be aware of.

Add Some Incentives

Your business might not be worried about employees taking time off for spring break. But it might struggle with employees clocking in and feeling unmotivated because they wish they were on vacation. Whether it’s due to lingering travel concerns or a tight budget, your active employees could use a little push during spring break to keep motivation and morale high.

A few incentives should do the trick. A week-long sales competition with some tantalizing rewards can perk up the office and keep morale going strong. Offering a prize like a paid company vacation or the newest video game console should help pick up the pace of sales.

A guaranteed incentive will shine some light at the end of the tunnel as well. The office atmosphere will be a little lighter if employees are looking forward to a nice team dinner on Friday night rather than going home without any spring break plans.

Enable Remote Work

If there are aspects of your business that can be performed digitally, give it a whirl during this upcoming spring break. Your employees who want some extra time off during this time period will be able to do so while still being able to complete some necessary tasks. This may even set a precedent moving forward where hybrid work is enabled and allows employees to spend more time at home with their families.

There are many ways your business can enable remote work. A phone system can be set up in a home office to field calls from customers. Outgoing calls for sales or appointment confirmations can be made through a remote phone system. Any digital aspects of your business can also be done from home, such as payroll, marketing, and scheduling.

For many businesses, there has to be at least one person in-house in order for operations to continue and likely more if you run a customer-facing business such as a salon. It might not seem fair to employees that their coworkers are able to work from home, so consider incentives you can offer to make it up to them. Perhaps an extra paid vacation day at a slower time of the year will provide the needed motivation.

While it might not be as exciting to be working rather than vacationing over spring break, you can make it tolerable and even fun. You can also use these strategies for other holidays to keep your business running smoothly no matter what logistical hurdles arise.

Image Credit: Buro Millennial; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Ways to Get Your Customers on a Regular Appointment Schedule

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Get Your Customers Regular Appointment Schedule

Life is so much easier when you have a well-planned schedule in front of you. Unfortunately for appointment-based businesses, this isn’t always the reality. Customers can be quite spotty when it comes to making their appointments, which leads to a lot of last-minute adjusting of schedules and bookings.

While a lot of appointment booking is out of your control, there are some things that your business can do to promote a more regular appointment schedule from your customers. Being able to plan further out in advance allows you to be more prepared to serve every customer well and not lose time and efficiency in a scramble.

If you’re ready for more appointment continuity and stability, here are a few ideas you can try this year:

1. Enable Recurring Appointments

There are a lot of customers who would appreciate a regular appointment schedule as much as you do. One way you can make this possible is by enabling recurring appointments. This allows customers to book appointments on a regular cadence rather than sporadically.

For example, your car garage might get a lot of business doing oil changes. Customers who make daily commutes and like to take care of their vehicles might come in for a bimonthly oil change as part of their maintenance routine. Being able to designate a particular day of the month makes it easier for them to organize their schedule, in addition to helping your business to get regular bookings.

Recurring appointments also work well for small businesses that have personal interactions with their customers. A customer might look forward to the hour she gets to spend with her masseuse each week, and being able to set a recurring appointment in her calendar ensures that her preferred booking slot is always secured.

2. Send Automated Text Messages

Sometimes your customers need a little nudge to kick-start their appointment streak again. Automated text messages are a quick and effective way to reach out to your customers who haven’t scheduled an appointment in some time. Such messages can notify them about upcoming deals they won’t want to miss or be used to send them a personalized offer.

Within an automated text message, you can include a direct link to your online appointment software. Send the right message to the right customer at the right time, and you can start getting bookings from them immediately. Of course, you should always leave the option available to opt-in and out of messaging as customers see fit. Otherwise, your text messages will drive customers away rather than pull them back in.

Emails and phone calls can also be effective methods of issuing reminders. Best of all, allowing customers to choose how they receive messages means you know that your nudging messages are being sent in the best way possible to every single person.

3. Keep Them in the Loop

If you keep customers in the loop with everything going on with your business, they’ll have more reasons to visit your website and regularly book future appointments. New information can also reinvigorate the interest that consumers have in your business.

If you don’t already, try creating and sending out a monthly newsletter containing information regarding upcoming events at your business. This can include special promotions, new services you’re offering, and other announcements as you see fit. Learning that you now offer a trendy new beauty service or will be offering two-for-one mani-pedis next month may be just the thing to spark a patron’s interest. Full calendars of events will prompt many customers to start booking their appointment slots earlier than normal.

Some pieces of news will need to be issued more immediately. For instance, if you’re planning on altering your business hours for an upcoming holiday, you should let your customers know as soon as possible so they can plan their appointments accordingly. Last-minute changes on your end will only cause complications with existing bookings.

4. Incentivize Consistency

If consistency is what you want from your customers, incentivize that behavior. Many businesses encourage return visits by handing out punch cards that provide additional services or rewards after so many uses. You can take this a step further by adding some more parameters.

Many appointment-based businesses prefer a regular appointment schedule over a quick string of appointments booked in pursuit of punch-card rewards. To change the trajectory of your incentives, you could build a reward program that offers points for cyclical visits. Bonus points can be awarded for consistent streaks set by customers, such as triple points earned for three consecutive monthly appointments.

Of course, your incentives program should be specifically tailored to your business, what it offers, and the customer base you’re working with. By thoughtfully taking your business’s particular variables into account, you’re bound to find a formula that works.

While you’ll never have a set-in-stone schedule as an appointment-based business, there are things you can do to promote continuity. Embrace these tips, you’ll benefit from the consistency they can help bring to your organization.

Image Credit: Mart Production; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways Appointment-Based Businesses Can Save Money on Energy Costs

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Appointment Based Businesses Save Money Energy Costs

Take a look at your most recent energy bill. Is it higher than you’d like to see? You may regard your utility bill as an unavoidable cost of running your thriving appointment-based business, but it’s a part of your expense column that deserves some time and attention.

Not only can focusing on your energy bill save you money, but you’re also doing your part to take care of the environment. A lower energy bill means you’re being more responsible with your consumption of non-renewable energy and limiting your carbon footprint.

There are several ways your business can save money on energy costs. Some of them are as simple as the flick of a switch. Here are some energy-saving examples you can implement today:

1. Improve Your Lighting

Lighting will always be a significant portion of your monthly electric bill. You can’t expect to run your business without at least a little bit of lighting, but there are some ways you can lower your energy costs while remaining illuminated.

Start by switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs in all of your light fixtures. Newer models use less electricity, providing the same amount of light for a fraction of the cost. Sensor lights in areas with less traffic such as supply closets will automatically turn the lights on and off. A light left on by accident will bring your bill up higher than necessary.

You can also look for ways to let in more natural light. Sunshine isn’t always a guarantee, but on sunny days, you can use a few windows or skylights to light your business space while leaving a few lights off for the day.

2. Automate Water and Climate Control

In addition to automated lighting, there are other ways you can automate your business to improve energy efficiency. Take public restrooms, for instance. Automatic water shut-off and auto-flushing toilets help to reduce the overuse of water by guests and employees.

Another example of automating public spaces involves climate control. A smart thermostat will automatically regulate the temperature in your building. It uses a lot less energy than running an AC unit or space heater during the workday. You can also adjust the thermostat depending on the time of year to further optimize your energy consumption.

3. Clock Out Your Hardware

Energy usage dips down significantly when your employees clock out for the day. However, your business is still using energy that you will ultimately have to pay for, even without workers or paying customers. While some power usage is required, such as for regulating the building’s temperature throughout the night, there are a few things you can unplug to save on energy costs.

Any office equipment should be powered down at the end of each shift. Computers that are on and plugged in all night will sap extra power even though they’re not actively being used. You can even go as far as to unplug kitchen appliances in the break room or other devices that would otherwise raise your power bill unnecessarily.

4. Keep Your HVAC Systems Up to Date

With all the hustle and bustle of running a business, when was the last time you thought to have the air filters in your building changed? It’s easy to overlook this small task when you’re busy managing employees and appointment schedules day in and day out. It’s also an example of something simple you can do to keep your energy costs low.

A dirty air filter makes it difficult for your HVAC system to run at full capacity. It has to work harder to perform the same function, which uses up more energy. Plus a dirty air filter means the air in your business isn’t going to be as clean and pure as you’d like it to be.

If you own your building, you’ll need to keep your other equipment up to date as well. It might take a significant down payment, but you’ll be able to significantly reduce energy costs in the long run. Replacing your HVAC systems might not seem fun when you first see the bill, but a good system can operate for over a decade, and you should definitely reap the benefits in the coming years.

5. Look Into Renewable Energy

If you really want to lean into energy efficiency, take a look at some of the renewable energy alternatives that are available. Unfortunately, these options have high entry fees, but they also have long-term benefits that are well worth considering for both your wallet and your business’s longevity.

The best example for businesses is probably the use of solar power. Solar panels can be placed on rooftops to soak in the sun’s rays and convert them into heat and electricity. Since this energy comes naturally, you won’t have to use as much electricity from your local power company.

The biggest issue with renewable energy is that it can be inconsistent. Your business can’t run on solar power at night, and it will get limited energy on a cloudy day. Even a little bit of assistance from the natural elements can help you cut down that power bill, though.

Try to do one simple thing that contributes to lowering your power bill before the day is done. Then create a long-term plan that helps transform your business into the most energy-efficient one on the block. You’ll soon see that energy bill plummet.

Image Credit: Narcisa Aciko; Pexels; Thank you!

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