Category Archives: Scheduling

9 Pro Tips for Conducting a Hybrid Meeting

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9 Pro Tips for Conducting a Hybrid Meeting

As companies return to having employees in the office, they may realize hybrid operations are a must. 

Now instead of having meetings with everyone in person or everyone online, you need a hybrid solution. However, this solution creates a new set of meeting challenges to overcome. 

Here are a few smart tips for including video attendees in important in-person meetings without making it awkward for everyone.

1. Share the Agenda

Meetings run smoother when you have an agenda and stick to it during the meeting—sharing it before the session helps attendees prepare. It also helps keeps remote workers connected so they know what is going on and meeting expectations. Add any online references or links to resources that everyone will need. The central information center will help keep the entire team in sync.

2. Use the Most Current Technology

If your conference room equipment hasn’t been updated in a while, now is the time to do it. After a year of everyone being on video conferencing, people expect to see and hear everything clearly. As a result, old conference room telephone systems and outdated audio need to be replaced to keep remote participants engaged.

Don’t forget to check for software updates too. For example, platforms are adding emoji options to give video participants ways to react and share feedback without disrupting the meeting. Some providers are also developing new tools so participants in the room can use chat along with online members. 

3. Show Everyone’s Face if Possible

Remind online participants to keep their videos running and show their faces. If that isn’t possible, encourage them to use a professional headshot for their off-video setting. You also want to have cameras set up in the conference room to capture people’s faces in the room. 

It also helps if you can use a big screen to show the gallery view of participants. Helping everyone be able to see each other’s faces and expressions builds a connection with online participants. In addition, it helps remind speakers to make eye contact with people not in the room by looking at the camera as another person in the room.

4. Start the Video Before the Meeting Starts

Assign someone to start the online meeting room before the official start of the meeting. This can serve a couple of purposes. First, it’s a good time to troubleshoot any technical issues. Second, it gives you a chance to ensure video and audio are working so you can save the meeting time for the agenda.

Finally, it also gives online participants a chance to accomplish a tech check of their own. They’ll be more engaged and less stressed if they aren’t trying to fix their tech issues after the meeting has started.

As a bonus, they’ll be able to take part in the informal conversations and watercooler talk that happens between in-person attendees while they are waiting for meetings to start.

5. Discourage Side Conversations

Online members can’t hear what’s being said clearly when more than one person is talking. Microphones will pick up the side conversations, even whispered sounds. It’s a sign of respect to your video participants to make sure only one person is talking. That way, everyone can hear and participate.

Sometimes the conversation may get exciting, and people try to talk over each other. You may want to add a touch of humor and a trick to moderate this by using a physical “talking stick.” The only person allowed to talk is the person with the stick. When they are finished, they can pass the stick to the next person. The meeting leader should proactively make sure that online members get a virtual stick and a chance to speak too. 

6. Be Deliberate to Include Online Members

It’s easy to overlook people who aren’t in the room. To keep them connected and engaged, be deliberate about making sure to include them. For example, when the meeting starts, greet them by name and ask them to recap their weekend. Giving them a chance to share helps people in the room connect with the virtual audience as well.

As the meeting occurs, don’t forget to ask those on video if they have questions or comments. And remember, silence can be your friend here. It may take people a moment to come off mute, so don’t be in a rush to fill the quiet.  

At the end of the meeting, go around and ask everyone for their takeaway from the meeting. And start with those online. That guarantees members have a chance for any final questions or comments they needed to add. 

7. Plan Facilitation Help

Meeting leaders may find it helpful to ask a co-worker in the room to act as a facilitator. Their role here is to watch the online participants for indications they need to add a comment. For example, virtual members may turn off mute or use the raise hand function to indicate they want to speak. If members in the room don’t notice, the facilitator should mention it to the room so the online members can share. 

8. Use Group Collaboration Tools

Many times, meetings include whiteboard activities. Most platforms have added virtual whiteboards that video participants can also see. If the virtual whiteboard isn’t an option, make sure you have a way of showing the papers in the room on camera so that everyone can read them.

Another good practice is to use polling software that can consolidate responses from people in the room and online. That may mean employees in the room also need to have an online device with them in the meeting. Let them know this ahead of the meeting to have their device with them and the app installed.

9. Get Feedback

As people start returning to offices and in-person meetings, hybrid meeting practices will grow and evolve. Seek feedback from meeting attendees. Ask them to rate the meeting and provide suggestions for how to improve the experience. It may also help to make sure facilitators occasionally attend hybrid meetings virtually. This first-hand experience will help them get a feel for the online experience and what can be done better.

Conclusion

A recent survey conducted by McKinsey shows that nine out of ten executives expect to have hybrid work. Moreover, as people return to in-person operations, most people expect more remote work than before the pandemic.

The tips above can help make sure your hybrid meeting runs smoothly and keep everyone engaged wherever they happen to be located.

Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

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Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

Remember going camping as a kid? Even if it was only a few times growing up, camping trips make for enjoyable summer memories for the whole family. So invite friends and family — and have a blast!

Your Calendar Will Help Make Your Camping Trip a Success

Unfortunately, many people don’t have great memories of camping — but everyone needs to say they’ve camped at least once in their lives. I call it “life lessons and learning.” And, yes, I laugh when I say that. But, whether the former camping trip was boring, got rained on, or someone was eaten alive by mosquitos — some things can get in the way of a good time. Prevent catastrophe from striking your camping trip by organizing your efforts with your Calendar. Here’s how:

Choosing Dates

Hey, you only have about six weeks before the kids are back in school — so get cracking! First things first, you must select the dates of your camping trip in advance. Very rarely will an impromptu trip work out well, especially for larger families and all of their different schedules. However, some of our impromptu trips ended up the best ever —  so don’t discount that possibility.

Using your Calendar allows you to view all of these conflicting schedules and find free days for everyone. Then, once the date is chosen — create a Calendar event and share it with everyone who plans to attend so that they don’t end up booking something for the dates selected.

Remembering to Pack

Nothing is worse than arriving at your location and realizing you forgot to pack something important. Don’t let that happen to you by setting one or several reminders in your online Calendar. I, for one, always have camping specifics in a packed bag so I can just look through the items and make sure they aren’t out of date.

You can set a reminder for virtually anything you think you might forget. For example, a Calendar notification will help you get out the door at the right time. Another event will remind you to make a trip to the store to get all the snacks and supplies you need.

You will also find it useful to set a reminder to make sure you double-check your home, set the lock, turn the camera on, check the auto sprinklers, let the neighbor know to pick up mail. I keep this same list for trips on my Calendar, so I don’t have to write a new list each time we go somewhere. That puts everything in order before leaving town for a few days. I also have a “before you go cleaning list” to not be overwhelmed when I return home.

Planning the Road Trip

The best camping spots are usually a long-distance away. Those drives can get pretty grueling, especially for young kids and big families. Your Calendar will come in handy for planning the upcoming road trip and making it as painless as possible.

Most National Parks have a number you can call and select your date and reserve your spot. You have to be there by a certain time (usually 6:00 PM) or give them a late check-in time. If you aren’t there on time — the park will give away your spot.

Looking for a spot to camp at midnight, especially if you’ve brought a baby along, is not a pretty sight. And sleeping in the car because you lost your camping spot tends to be the memory that sticks with your fam and friends forever.

Thanks to GPS technology, you don’t have to plan your route as extensively as in generations past. However, it may be worth your time to plan some stops along the way. For example, optimize your bathroom and lunch breaks or scope out some roadside attractions that are worth checking out.

Plan these out in advance, and you can make the drive more enjoyable while still making it to your campsite at a reasonable hour.

Creating an Itinerary

Camping is so much more than sleeping in a tent on the hard ground. What makes camping worth it is all the activities you plan throughout the day. Your Calendar will help you create the perfect itinerary to fill your days with plenty of activities.

Do you want to go on a family hike? You want to plan water activities when it’s the warmest and plan everything else around it. We like to take our bikes and have a big long bike trip around the lake early while it’s still cool and then have lake time to cool off around noon or 1:00 PM. You could also check to see if the park rents bikes, paddle boats, or canoes. That way you don’t have to bring your own. But all these types of activities and questions can be answered by making an itinerary for your trip.

There’s also some merit in making time to do nothing but relax and get lost in your surroundings. Feel free to include your personal “away” time on your Calendar as well. Especially if it’s a high priority to you. If you’re an adventurous type, you can also freestyle the trip and see where it takes you.

As a footnote, your Calendar doesn’t always have to be online in order to be helpful. While traveling, you can still access the itinerary in offline mode. Thankfully there are fewer places where you won’t have cell service. But be aware no cell service does occur. Sometimes I take a screenshot of my Calendar so I have it in my photos if cell service is not to be had.

Getting Work Done

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean the work has stopped. If you’re taking a weekday trip, you’ll need to ask for time off and might need to get some extra work done before you embark. Even a weekend outing can be a little stressful if you get home late Sunday night and need to get things ready to go to the office the following morning.

This is the perfect opportunity to use your Calendar for what it does best; time management. Leading up to your trip, try using time blocking or experiment with the Pomodoro Technique to get as much work done as possible so that you can take a camping trip without stressing about missing work.

Your Calendar will help you make a seamless return as well. You can organize all of your meetings and deadlines ahead of time to arrange your entire schedule before you even leave for your trip. Then, once you make it back home, all you have to do is check your Calendar for everything that needs to be done next.

Recording Memories

Just as was mentioned from the start, the goal of a camping trip is to have fun and make memories. Therefore, every event and note you add to your Calendar will serve as a reminder of the fun you had even long after the trip has finished.

You can also use your online Calendar to plan out a scrapbook or photo album of all the camping trips you ever take. This is a more visual and organized way to preserve memories for a very long time.

You can have a lot of fun roughing it if you come prepared. Before you leave to come home from a trip (camping or otherwise), get everyone to share photos from your phones. I put a reminder in my Calendar because sharing photos has become such a staple of our adventures and the highlight of our trips now.

Strengthen Your Budgeting Resolve by Enlisting Your Daily Planner

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Strengthen Your Budgeting Resolve by Enlisting Your Daily Planner

Many people create budgets to help stay on track with bills, savings goals, and fun money. Some are more detailed than others in their budgeting, but it’s important to at least know what your income is and how much your fixed bills are each month. What’s left is what you live on. Even though you may set out with the intention of tracking your expenditures, it’s easy to end up with more days in the month than money left in the bank.

Why is that? Well, it could be that you have a “set it and forget it” mindset when it comes to budgeting. Maybe you created a rough budget several months or years ago when you got a new job or bought a new house, but now you don’t look at it each month. 

Strengthening your budgeting resolve first comes with paying attention to your plan for your money. People typically excel in what they put their focus and time into. It’s amazing what you can accomplish by setting your priorities. Scheduling time each month or each pay period to look at your expenses and budget can be invaluable. Here are four ways you can make sure this happens:

Make Budgeting Appointments in Your Daily Calendar

Set up an appointment on your phone or through your online scheduling app to remind you to budget. You make appointments for doctor’s visits or to remember to buy a gift for your niece’s birthday. Keeping track of your budget is important, so set a reminder for that, too. These reminders provide an ongoing visualization that can help you make more informed decisions when the temptation to spend arises.

If you haven’t been using your phone for online scheduling, check out some options online that would work best for you. If you’re a Gmail user, you might find Google calendar the ideal platform. If you love all things Apple, you can use your iPhone’s calendar. Whatever you like using, stick with it. 

Create Calendar Reminders for Bill Due Dates

Setting personal budget meetings helps you stay on track with your budgeting and financial goals. These meetings are a great way to see your overall financial picture and where you stand in sticking to it. To help you stay on target even more, you could take it a step further and add calendar appointments for your bill due dates and to mark your paydays. 

Adding these to your calendar lets you easily see when money is coming in and going out of your account each month. The month-at-a-glance perspective allows you to check on this in an easy-to-manage format. If you have a hard time remembering to pay your rent or electric bill on time, this can be a huge help and keep you ahead of the game. 

Increase Your Budgeting Appointments During High-Cost Times of Year

Are there certain times during the year where you’re more tempted to spend? If so, increase your budgeting meetings during those times. If you go nuts over the Christmas holidays, purchasing cute decorations, gifts, and holiday treats, schedule your budgeting check-ins every other week or every week after Thanksgiving. Hold yourself accountable and keep tabs on how much you’re spending. 

Maybe summertime is when you relax and let loose with spontaneous beach trips and long weekends to see friends and family. If so, this might be the time of year to keep up with your budgeting meetings or add in more. Even if you’re going on vacations or other planned trips, if you don’t set a budget, you may have the stress of tight finances when you get back. 

Do yourself a favor: Create a vacation budget before you go. It gives you permission to spend and won’t leave you guessing when you get home. 

Make Long and Short-Term Budgeting Goals

Not only do your budgeting appointments keep you accountable, but they can also be used to set goals and timelines. Establish benchmarks for where you want to be financially. If your goal is paying off debt, for example, break this large goal down into smaller, measurable goals

Put your target pay-off date in your calendar way off in the future. Then, determine how much you hope to pay off quarterly or monthly. Put those smaller goals into your scheduling app. When you get the reminder, look at your progress. You can then adjust accordingly. 

Maybe you’re hitting your goal faster than you thought. That could light a fire under you to reach the goal even faster. If you’re lagging a bit, look into the reasons why. Maybe you ate at your favorite restaurant too many times last month and need to rein in your spending a bit so you’ll have more left to throw at your debt payment. This method can work well for saving goals, too.

Putting an important meeting, workout, or friend call on your calendar helps you stay committed to what’s important to you with regard to work, physical health, and personal relationships. Why not do the same for budgeting? Enlisting your calendar to hold yourself accountable can go a long way toward helping you meet your financial goals.   

How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

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How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

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

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

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

Add Buffer Time Between Meetings

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

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

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

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

Plan for Longer Work Meetings

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

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

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

Evaluate Your Meeting Locations

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

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

Prepare Meeting Agendas in Advance

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

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

Keep the Number of Meetings to a Minimum

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

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

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

Avoid Last-Second Meetings

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

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

Schedule Blocks of Time Without Meetings

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

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

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

Best Appointment Scheduling Software: 7 Apps for Business Scheduling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appointment Scheduling Apps: Definition and Uses

What To Consider When Choosing Appointment Scheduling Software

Best Appointment Scheduling Software

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

Final Thoughts: The 7 Best Appointment Scheduling Software

Appointment Scheduling Apps: Definition and Uses

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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Appointment Booking Software 

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

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

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

What To Consider When Choosing Appointment Scheduling Software

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

Calendar Syncing

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

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

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

Flexibility

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

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

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

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

Easy Access

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

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

Payment Processing

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

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

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

Reminder Settings

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

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

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

Best Appointment Scheduling Software

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

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

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

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

1. Appointment

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

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

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

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

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

Key features of Appointment.com:

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

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

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

2. Calendar.com

Calendar

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

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

Key features of Calendar.com:

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

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

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

`3. HubSpot Meetings

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

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

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

Key features of HubSpot Meetings:

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

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

Price: Free 

4. Appointy

Appointy

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

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

Key features of Appointy:

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

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

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

5. Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling

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

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

Key features of Acuity Scheduling:

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

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

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

6. Calendly

Calendly

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

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

Key features of Calendly:

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

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

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

7. Chili Piper

Chili Piper

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

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

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

Key features of Chill Piper:

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

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

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

Final Thoughts: The 7 Best Appointment Scheduling Software

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

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

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

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

Employee Vacations Don’t Need to Slow Down Your Business

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Employee Vacations Don’t Need to Slow Down Your Business

As summer arrives, many employees are eyeing their next vacation destination. Managing absences can get tricky for even experienced business managers, especially if they don’t plan ahead.

However, employee vacations don’t have to slow your business down. There are ways to plan around them, and even encourage them, to keep workflows running smoothly and employees energized. Here’s how you can make it happen:

Recognize the Importance of Employee Downtime

First of all, you need to acknowledge the fact that employee vacations are necessary. When a manager is willing to work with employees to take time off, the process becomes a lot smoother. Additionally, you’ll see notable improvements in workplace productivity.

The American Psychological Association’s Work and Well-Being survey found that 58% of workers were more productive and 55% believed their work quality increased following a vacation. Paid time off (PTO) allows employees to recharge and come back with an improved mindset, which ends up paying dividends to your business. 

Once you realize that vacations help your business instead of hurt it, you’ll be more open to implementing the following suggestions to make time off increasingly possible. Employees, in turn, will be more willing to cooperate with your PTO guidelines when you show them that you truly value their vacation time. 

Operate Above the Bare Minimum

A big reason why businesses struggle with employee vacations is because they regularly operate on a bare minimum basis. They have just enough employees to cover every shift. When someone asks for PTO, it means there’s no one who can pick up the slack. 

Employees who are overworked and feel incapable of taking time off will burn out quickly. This leads to a decline in job performance and high turnover rates, which are complicated and costly for businesses to handle. 

Sit down with your finance team and calculate the budget needed to add one or two more team members to your roster. Even having a few part-time or on-call employees can help cover essential tasks when a worker is on vacation or even taking sick leave. 

Encourage Vacations During Slow Season

While you’re building a culture that supports time off, try to do so as efficiently as possible. Businesses will be able to support employee vacations much more easily during their slow season as opposed to their peak months. 

Let’s use a car dealership and/or its service department as an example. The auto industry typically booms in the summer when driving conditions are optimal and travel is more feasible. You’ll want all hands on deck in these months, so encourage your employees to take more time off in the fall and winter. 

Of course, many vacations and family reunions are planned in the summer when kids are out of school. Don’t use the busy months as an excuse to never allow an employee to take time off. Work with all employees to stagger their PTO so you can cater to their personal situations and the needs of your business.

Update Your Scheduling System

The system that many organizations use to field and approve time-off requests is outdated. There are too many hoops to jump through, or forms get lost and verbal commitments are forgotten. If you really don’t want employee vacations to slow down your business, update your scheduling system.

Start by moving the entire process online. If you’re reading this blog, you probably already use online appointment software to benefit your business and its customers. Implement technology to do the same with your employee PTO scheduling. 

Scheduling software will keep employee shifts organized, ensuring that everyone knows their work schedule and every day is covered. PTO requests can be digitally submitted, reviewed, and approved in minutes. The schedule can then be altered accordingly without miscommunications or lost time. 

Establish PTO Guidelines

Rules are never fun, but they’re necessary to maintain order and equity. With a set of rules and guidelines in place, your employees will be able to better choose when to cash in on their vacation time.

For example, one of your rules might be that two employees in the same department can’t be on vacation at the same time. Workers then know that they won’t be able to ask off work, except for emergencies, if certain dates are already claimed. This also encourages employees to plan in advance so that a lack of foresight doesn’t cause them to miss a wedding or a family reunion. 

Transition as Much As Possible to Remote Work

Employees who work from home have much more flexibility when it comes to taking a vacation. In many cases, they can still work on the road, and the business won’t even notice they’re gone. Enabling as many remote work opportunities as possible keeps your business running even with vacation time in the mix.

For appointment-based businesses, there may be fewer opportunities right now for remote work. Still, you can look at digital customer service options or have your back-office teams work from home. Your IT technician can be just as effective from a hotel room in the Bahamas if you really need them. 

Another exciting development in the world of appointment-based businesses is telecommunication. Some professionals, such as physicians and therapists, can hold consultations with patients via videoconferencing. This gives these service providers more scheduling flexibility, allowing them to plan vacation activities around the appointments they have each day. 

Vacations are an essential part of life. Make sure both you and your team are taking the time you need to unwind and relax. And use these tips to make sure your business doesn’t suffer because of it. 

6 Tips for Scheduling Appointments with Reluctant Customers

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6 Tips for Scheduling Appointments with Reluctant Customers

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon us a long, grueling, utterly unprecedented year. Everyone — from individuals to communities to entire countries — faced their own unique and strenuous challenges. 

Luckily, the pandemic appears to be on the wane at last. While case numbers continue to fluctuate, people across the country are receiving doses of highly effective vaccines. As the vaccine rollout accelerates, getting back to normal seems increasingly likely.

And yet, for owners of appointment-based businesses, the challenges of COVID-19 are still ongoing.

On the bright side, many companies have opened their doors and resumed in-person work. However, even if employees are happy to return, many customers don’t feel the same way. Thus, persuading these customers to return for face-to-face appointments remains a hurdle.

If you’re facing this issue, don’t stress out — you’re not alone. Read on for six tips on scheduling appointments with reluctant customers.

1. Follow your state and local COVID-19 guidelines.

Official COVID-19 guidelines were implemented for a reason: to keep us all safe. Adhering to these guidelines will benefit your customers and your employees alike. So before your grand office reopening, be sure to brush up on these essential rules. 

Every state is different, so you’ll have to do a bit of research on your own here. Fortunately, there are convenient tools that can help you keep track of state-by-state guidelines, restrictions, and more.

Not only does following applicable laws protect your business, but it also helps put your customers at ease. If they know that officials have deemed it safe to conduct in-person business, they’ll be more likely to book a face-to-face appointment with you.

2. Continue to adhere to social distancing policies.

Social distancing has been the name of the game for over a year now. Remaining six feet apart and wearing masks feels like second nature these days.

As a result, even though restrictions are easing up, lots of customers don’t feel ready to return to mask-free, shoulder-to-shoulder life. This is why staying socially distant for a while longer is the right move.

Basically, you should continue to take precautions to handle your appointments safely. Ensure that everyone in your office wears a face covering, stays six feet apart, and avoids eating or drinking in common spaces. To take it one step further, you could even require daily temperature checks or rapid COVID tests.

By continuing to follow strict health guidelines, you’ll show your clients that you’re still taking this pandemic seriously. Customers will feel safe, protected, and ready to show up for an appointment.

3. Communicate with your customers.

Communication is more important now than ever. It seems as if the world is constantly changing, especially as COVID-19 restrictions can loosen or tighten every day. Right now, it’s vital to respond accordingly and keep your customers in the loop. 

If clients are uncertain about your current mode of operation, they may be reluctant to reach out and schedule an appointment. That’s exactly why you should make an effort to keep them informed about all the details of your office reopening. 

In other words, be sure to let them know that you’re following tips 1 and 2 above. If you consistently maintain communication with your customers, you’ll be well on your way to a rush of new appointments.

4. Use social media to your advantage.

Social media is an indispensable business and marketing tool that’s only grown more popular during this pandemic. There’s no doubt it will remain just as important post-COVID.

As you and your business readjust to normalcy, don’t forget to leverage your social media channels. It’s an effective way to interact with customers, provide real-time updates about the business, and promote your company. 

Whenever COVID-19 guidelines change in your area, make sure to post about your business’s response to the changes. This will help ease any lingering concerns your customers may have about COVID dangers.

5. Give customers an at-home option.

Although we’re moving closer to normalcy each day, the pandemic is still not over. Yes, cases have gone down in most areas, and vaccinations are well underway. Despite this progress, however, many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of returning to in-person work and social events. 

Unfortunately, some customers won’t feel ready to return to your business just yet — it’s that simple. If this is the case, convincing them otherwise may be impossible.

The good news is that we live in the 21st century, and we have modern technology at our disposal. If the nature of your services makes it possible, allow your customers to opt for a virtual appointment if they desire. It may not be ideal, but it’s better than missing out on the opportunity entirely.

If you give customers the choice to stay home, they’ll certainly feel safer returning to your business in the future. Even better, they will greatly appreciate your effort to be accommodating. 

6. Be open to adaptation.

If we can offer one final tip, it’s this: don’t be afraid to adapt. After the year we’ve had, perhaps this goes without saying. 

When you discover that one of your normal practices isn’t working, it may be time to try something new. For example, a hairstylist whose customers are still hesitant to return for in-salon appointments could make house calls. Or, weather permitting, they could move one salon chair outside for alfresco haircuts. 

Much has changed in the past year, and there’s no doubt that things will continue to change throughout 2021. So as your business transitions from virtual to in-person, it’s important to remain flexible. 

The pandemic has forced all of us to reevaluate and rearrange our priorities, both business-related and otherwise. Just remember: you’ve made it this far. Stay adaptable, and you’ll be fine.

What Are Scheduling Links and How Do They Work?

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What Are Scheduling Links and How Do They Work?

Mastering your time is the key to becoming successful in any industry. It’s how professional athletes find time to train and recover, how top executives can seal so many deals, and how entrepreneurs can grow a startup while still raising a family. A lot of time management comes from self-mastery and dedication, but it never hurts to deploy a few tools to help you along the way.

One such tool is the scheduling link. Adding these links to your repertoire will save you tons of time when organizing your schedule; they will also improve the way you communicate. This guide will explain the ins and outs of scheduling links so you can reap the benefits for yourself.

What Is a Scheduling Link?

A scheduling link is a URL or web link that you can send to anyone online to share your availability. Recipients can click on the link to view your calendar and set up a meeting with you. You can create a link for one-time use or develop a template that you can use repeatedly.

After you send a scheduling link and the recipient selects a meeting time, you’ll receive a notification to confirm the time of the meeting. This allows you to quickly block out times on your calendar for meetings, interviews, and phone calls. 

Scheduling links can be attached to emails, sent via text message, or even embedded in your company website. This flexibility will enable you to use scheduling links in the way that best meets your needs. 

How Do You Set Up Scheduling Links?

To start, you need an online calendar that allows you to create scheduling links, which then use the contents of your calendar to create availability windows. Lest you think you’re throwing your entire life open to the world, rest assured that there are settings to hide information you don’t want others to see. You can keep your calendar entirely private or show teammates and customers the reasons you’re unavailable at various times.

To create the link itself, you only need to click. Each time you do, the link will analyze your calendar to create an accurate picture of your availability. Permanent scheduling links, which always stay up-to-date and never expire, can be sent to your closest connections. 

Some scheduling links give you even more control over your schedule. Even if you don’t have anything marked in your calendar for a certain time, you can close that span of time off in your scheduling link so no one books it. This will leave your lunch breaks uninterrupted when they’re not explicitly listed or guarantee some downtime during the day. 

What Are the Benefits of Scheduling Links?

First and foremost, you’ll save a lot of time with scheduling links and improve your overall communication. No one enjoys the back-and-forth emails required to coordinate times for meetings and phone calls. Life is so much easier when you can send a simple link and identify times where your two schedules line up.

Scheduling links will also help you with your time management. One simple distraction can derail your productivity by over 20 minutes. Don’t let an unnecessary phone call disrupt your flow when a scheduling link could prevent it.

Of course, as a leader, you might say that your door is always open to your employees. You can be true to your word and still maintain your productivity by making your scheduling link available to everyone on your team. At any point, they’ll be able to request a meeting at a time that works for you. 

Are Scheduling Links for Business or Personal Use?

The short answer is both. A scheduling link will go as far as you take it. Whether you want to use scheduling links to stay connected with a small team or all and sundry is up to you. Just take your goals into consideration.

For business purposes, scheduling links can be used in two ways. As mentioned, the first is for managers to make their availability accessible to employees. Team members from the top to the bottom of the corporate ladder will find this feature quite useful.

Scheduling links can also help businesses establish a relationship with customers. Account managers can create scheduling links for each of their clients to enable better communication. Small businesses can add scheduling links to their website for customers to book appointments more easily. 

For personal use, scheduling links can help you connect with all the groups in your life. If you volunteer at a charity, belong to a church group, or coach a Little League baseball team, you can use scheduling links to arrange work sessions, meetings, and practices with ease.

What Else Can Scheduling Links Do?

As basic as they are, scheduling links have a couple of additional tricks up their sleeve to help you master your calendar. Be sure to leverage the following capabilities to get the full benefit:

Meeting Buffer

Need a 15-minute breather after one meeting before tackling your next one? Add some buffer time to your scheduling link so no one will catch you off guard. 

Time Increments 

How long do you want your openings to be? You can make them as long as an hour or more or shorten them depending on how much time you think you’ll need. 

Notifications

What good is a meeting if you forget it? Get notifications hooked up to your links so both parties keep their end of the commitment. 

Double-Booking Prevention 

Having two people book the same time slot would lead to one big mess. Luckily, an updated scheduling link can prevent that from happening. 

Start using scheduling links today so you can get a feel for how they work. After a few test runs, you’ll be able to incorporate them into your daily routine and get so much more out of your time. 

How 15-Minute Meetings Can Keep Freelancers and Solopreneurs on Track

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How 15-Minute Meetings Can Keep Freelancers and Solopreneurs on Track

We’ve all probably heard that meetings may not be best for productivity. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that 65% of the senior managers they interviewed said that meetings kept them from completing their own work.

While most people can agree that poorly-run unproductive meetings can be a waste of time, I’d argue that short, focused, and intentional meetings can be very effective. With virtual meeting technology advancing, shorter meetings will save time and are proven to help most workers become more productive.

If you’re a freelancer or solopreneur working from home, short 15-minute meetings can help you too. Here’s how and why you should consider giving meetings another chance if you’re still struggling with productivity, efficiency, and overall focus during your workweek.

15-Minute Meetings Can Be Great Braindump and Planning Sessions

I’m a very type A person and a planner, but sometimes taking too long to plan something out results in a major delay in terms of what I’m able to produce. I’ve found that short 15-minute meetings are great opportunities for me to brainstorm and plan with clients and other team members.

If you’re a freelancer with a client who is planning a big project, short meetings can help you set deadlines, divvy up responsibilities and go in with a game plan. Plus, it can eliminate lots of long email chains that could result in you missing out on some important information.

As someone who’s also a solopreneur, I run my own financial education company and hop on short meetings with companies and other clients to discuss speaking opportunities, upcoming content, and more. Even if the meeting is short, it’s important to have a clear agenda and desired outcome so you can stay focused and leave the meeting with more clarity and direction than what you had coming in.

Get to Know Your Clients Better

Working from home has its perks, but the constant isolation can be a real disservice to your business and mental health. Brief 15-minute meetings can also be a great way to get to know your clients better and humanize yourself as well as the other people you send emails to regularly.

As a freelance writer, I find that it can be so easy to just get lost in the shuffle with some of my editors. Whenever I get a new editor, I like to go the extra mile and propose a quick call or meeting to learn a little more about them, their goals for content, and the ways that I can help. This helps me avoid becoming just another email address that could be easy to forget when sending out writing assignments for the month.

While I don’t think it’s necessary to have virtual happy hours with your clients each week, sometimes jumping on a quick call to ask a question or gain clarity can be helpful and allow you to build a better professional relationship with the people you work with.

Short Meetings Help You Get on the Same Page With Team Members

If you work with larger teams, short 15-minute check-in meetings can be a great way to make sure you get on the same page. Plus, again, it allows you to feel like you’re part of an actual team or community when working from home. I have one client who likes to have monthly meetings and while they’re effective, they don’t last too long.

It just opens up the floor to share any new announcements, check in with deadlines and make sure that everyone is on the same page with the workflow. Sometimes, if there’s not much to discuss, the meetings don’t last for longer than 10 minutes.

As a solopreneur, I also hire a few virtual assistants so I can delegate tasks. Over time I noticed that one of my VAs was often late turning things in or would message me during times when I wasn’t working and it slowed down a lot of my processes. I didn’t want to delay certain projects due to a lack of timely communication so we decided to start having weekly or bi-weekly 15-minute check-in meetings.

This allowed us to touch base, adjust deadlines, discuss questions and become more efficient with the workflow overall. After committing to regular quick meetings, I noticed an uptick in productivity for both of us all around and more tasks were able to get accomplished. This also helped me get more value for the money I was paying to outsource as well.

It’s Easy to Schedule and Automate Short Meetings

Almost everyone has a 15-minute time block available in their daily schedule. This means it will be much easier for you to propose a short meeting to clients and team members in order to boost productivity. People don’t want to lose an hour of work for an unproductive meeting – and luckily they don’t have to.

Schedule your 15-minute meetings through your online calendar and even consider recording them so people can review them later if needed. So long as you record audio from a meeting, you can even get this audio transcribed so it can be even easier for team members to digest if they need to catch up and stay in the loop.

Summary

Fifteen minutes can really fly by, but it has been so helpful in several areas of my business. If you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, realize that short and intentional meetings can really help boost your productivity and help you stay accountable for certain deadlines and goals.

Have you tried 15-minute meetings in your business yet? Why or why not?

How Your Calendar Can Save the World

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How Your Calendar Can Save the World

Is it ambitious to want to save the world? Sure. But, as Eddie Vedder sings on one of my all-time favorite Pearl Jam tunes, “Sometimes.”

Seek my part, devote myself

My small self

Like a book amongst the many on a shelf

Whatever you truly care about, spending any amount of time championing it can make the world a better place — even if it’s just in your small pocket of the world. After all, if we all made a little effort, we could have the power to impact our little third rock from the Sun positively.

Of course, time restraints are always holding us back from making a difference. But, thanks to your trusted calendar, that’s no longer an excuse. In fact, thanks to the calendar, we can all participate in saving the world in our own unique ways.

1. Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

“In the event of a sudden drop in pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from above. Secure your own mask first before assisting others.”

If you’ve ever flown, then you’re familiar with that announcement. But, why? It’s straightforward.

If you don’t put your oxygen mask on first, then how can you assist those who can not? After all, the lack of oxygen will cause you to pass out. As such, this will leave others in a precarious situation.

The same is true in your daily life. If you don’t carve out time to attend to your own health and wellbeing, then you aren’t in the best spot to make a positive impact. For example, if you’re too burned out from work, then you aren’t going to have the energy to help struggling employees or volunteer in the community.

What’s the best way to help yourself first? By adding self-care to your calendar.

Self-care, as explained  in a previous Calendar article, “is when you regularly engage in activities and practices that make you feel calm and re-energized.”

“Some might consider this being on the selfish side,” adds Deanna. “But, self-care is a proven way to reduce stress. It’s also key in maintaining our own mental, emotional, and even physical health.” Because of this, self-care is “vital in protecting and enhancing our short- and long-term health and wellbeing.”

While you may think that you don’t have the time for self-care, you can use your calendar to make this possible by:

  • Following a routine that at least “encourages a consistent sleep-wake cycle, meal schedule, and workflow. If possible, try to base these around your circadian rhythms,” Deanna states.
  • “Regularly scheduling 2-3 nutrient-rich meals per day.” To make this easier, schedule deliveries from companies like Misfits Market or SnackNation.
  • Blocking out periods of time for physical activity and setting reminders to stand up and stretch.
  • Setting office hours so that you can actually unplug and detach from work. You should also share your calendar with others so that they know when you’re available and when you’re not.
  • Scheduling social activities.
  • Reducing screen. Instead of being glued to your phone, replace that with other activities like walking or reading a book.
  • Penciling in alone-time so that you can reflect and engage in self-talk.
  • Leave blank spaces in your calendar so that you can spend that time however you please.

2. Cultivate Gratitude

Looking for an uncomplicated activity that can lower stress, improve sleep, and strengthen your relationship ships. Look no further than practicing gratitude. In particular, try the GIFT Technique, as suggested by Anna Hennings, MA, a mental performance coach in sport psychology:

  • Growth: personal growth, such as learning a new skill
  • Inspiration: whatever has inspired you
  • Friends/family: those who are supportive and enrich your life
  • Tranquility: those small and meaningful moments, like sipping on your morning tea
  • Surprise: acknowledging unexpected surprises

Keep that acronym when identifying what you’re grateful for. After that, jot these items down in your journal during your morning or evening routine.

In addition to writing in a gratitude journal, actually show others how much you appreciate them. Examples include greeting your employees when they come into work or sending handwritten “thank you” cards. Other recommendations would be to publicly acknowledge others, offering thoughtful gifts/rewards, and being respectful of their time.

3. Volunteer Your Time

“When you volunteer your time, you are helping others in need while also spending your time in an excellent way,” note the folks over at Wheels For Wishes. “Not only are you making others happy, but you will also feel great about yourself.” However, since there are so many organizations where you could volunteer, where can you start?

Thankfully, the Wheels For Wishes put together the following list to help you get on your way:

  • Walk dogs at an animal shelter
  • Adopt or foster a pet
  • Volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation
  • Give blood
  • Serve food at a soup kitchen
  • Organize a fundraising event
  • Volunteer at a children’s summer camp
  • Donate your hair
  • Adopt a highway and keep it clean
  • Pick up trash in your neighborhood
  • Spend time at a nursing home
  • Organize a food or coat drive
  • Tutor or mentor
  • Run errands for the elderly
  • Knit hats for those going through chemotherapy

Go through your calendar to check your availability. For example, since my calendar is wide open next weekend, and the weather is supposed to be pleasant, I’m going to collect the trash along the side of my road. By adding this to my calendar, I’m committing to it and not letting anything else take its place.

4. Offer Your Services

What skills or knowledge do you possess? Put them to good use by offering them up for free.

For instance, if you’re a doctor, you could spend your downtime at a free clinic. Are you a lawyer or accountant? Offer free advice at community or senior centers when needed, like right before tax season. Do you know how to code? Build or update the website for a nonprofit.

5. Make a Donation

Don’t have the availability to volunteer or offer your services? No problem. You can still give back to others through donations. For instance, you could go through your kitchen and donate perishable food items. Go through your closet and donate blankets, coats, or hats you no longer wear.

But, what’s there’s more! Animal shelters could use old towels, cleaning supplies, or unopened pet food and treats. Nurseries could take baby blankets off your hands, while daycares might be interested in books or art supplies.

You could also donate your vehicle. And, you can never go wrong with a cash donation.

6. Commit to a Regular Contribution

Is there a cause that you’re passionate about? Then why not become a regular contributor? It’s pretty setting-and-forgetting your contributions. For instance, you could make an automated monthly donation to NPR or The Adventure Project — just put a reminder in your calendar so that you keep your bank account in good order.

$10 a month may not be much to you. But, it can truly make all the difference in the world for those in need.

7. Be Informed

What are you passionate about? Whatever it is, learn as much about the topic as possible during your downtime.

Let’s say that this is climate change. You should keep informed via sources like Nature Climate Change; the “Ask NASA” website, CleanTechnica. You could also listen to podcasts, watch TED Talks, or attend online events.

The more you know, the more you can educate others or find ways to make a difference.

8. Get Involved Politically

No matter your political affiliation, always go out and vote both locally and naturally. I would search for election dates in your neck of the woods so that you can mark your calendar to prevent forgetting. Remember, there are way more elections out there than the Presidential Election that takes place every four years.

But, there’s more you can do besides casting your ballot. You could volunteer for a campaign, like phone banking, knocking on doors, or registering new voters. And, keep politicians accountable by contacting them or attending town hall events.

9. Use Your Voice

Do you disagree with how a brand treats its employees? Send them an email voicing your concerns. Is a company polluting the environment or abusing animals? Let others know through social media and in-person conversations.

You might think that this is time-consuming. These are all actions you could take when batching tasks like cleaning out your inbox or updating your social channels.

10. Conduct an Energy Audit

An energy audit is pretty self-explanatory. It’s when you go through your home or workplace to find out where it’s losing energy so that you can correct this problem. While there are professionals who can do this, you can schedule to do this on your own by:

  • Finding and sealing air leaks coming through doors, windows, or gaps along the baseboard.
  • Checking insulation levels in the ceiling and walls.
  • Annually inspecting heating and cooling equipment.
  • Estimating the energy use of your appliances.
  • Switching to more energy-efficient appliances.
  • Replacing your old bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

11. Create Reminders to Power Down

“All things plugged in will bleed some energy,” writes Vanessa Vadim for Treehugger. “Called ‘standby’ electricity loss because it’s so often associated with electronics in standby or idle mode, it’s also known as ‘phantom’ or ‘vampire” electricity.’”

But, what if you turn off all of your appliances. Doesn’t matter. They’re still drawing power.

“The Natural Resources Defense Council says the cost of plugged-in but not used devices is about $165 per household or $19 billion across the U.S.,” adds Vadim. “That amounts to about 44 million tons of carbon dioxide, or 4.6% of the country’s total residential electricity generation, points out The New York Times.”

One way to resolve this would be powering down and unplugging the electronics you use at work before leaving. If you usually “clock-out” by 5 p.m., then spend the last 30-minutes organizing your workspace and flipping off your power strip. And, you can do the same thing before bed in your home.

Suppose you know that you won’t be home or in the office for an extended period, add a calendar reminder. For instance, if you’re leaving at 9 a.m., then receive a reminder 15-minutes before so that you can turn off the lights and unplug unnecessary appliances.

12. Set the Ideal Temperature

Thermostat wars are fairly commonplace at both home and the workplace. However, constantly fiddling with the temperature doesn’t just cause rifts between family members and colleagues. It can also impact everything from your sleep to productivity. And, it’s also detrimental to the environment.

The answer? Install an automatic thermostat and set it at the right temperature at the right time. For example, the Helsinki University of Technology’s Laboratory for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning state that the ideal temperature for the “typical” office is around 71.6 F. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), however, recommends keeping the thermostat between 68 and 76 F.

Regardless of your exact preference, keep the workplace comfortable so that you aren’t shivering or sweating. At the end of the day, though, crank down the heat or turn up the air so that you aren’t wasting energy when no one is around.

Better yet? Invest in a smart thermostat. It will learn your patterns and adjust accordingly. You can also sync these devices with your calendar. For instance, you can connect your Google Calendar with Google Home/Nest to control the temperature of your residence or workplace from anywhere.

Moreover, Project Drawdown anticipates that “smart thermostats could grow from 3 percent to 58-63 percent of households with Internet access by 2050.” If so, this means “1,453-1,589 million homes would have them,” and it could avoid 7.0-7.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions.

13. Reduce Unnecessary Mail

41 pounds. That’s how much junk mail the average American receives each year. In order to produce that much requires the cutting down of between 80 and 100 million trees annually!

Besides the environmental impact, junk mail is annoying and sometimes time-consuming if you happen to the type of person who reads every correspondence they receive. To stop this, you can:

  • Opt-out of credit card and insurance offers via OptOutPrescreen.com.
  • To stop receiving unwanted direct mail, register on the National Do Not Mail List.
  • Opt-out of catalogs and magazine subscriptions by contacting Catalog Choice, CoxTarget, or Publishers Clearing House (800.645.9242 or [email protected]) and Readers Digest (800.310.6261).
  • Directly ask for your name to be removed from the mailing lists of companies or nonprofits.
  • Download the PaperKarma app. Just snap a pic of the piece of mail, select the name or address you want removed, and press unsubscribe. Easy peasy.

And, even though it’s not junk mail, make sure that you go paperless. As opposed to receiving monthly statements and mailing payments, you can do all of this online.

14. Prepare Your Meals

“Today, an estimated one-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste,” notes the World Wildlife Fund. “That’s equal to about 1.3 billion tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains that either never leave the farm, get lost or spoiled during distribution, or are thrown away in hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, or home kitchens.” That’s “enough calories to feed every undernourished person on the planet.”

“But wasted food isn’t just a social or humanitarian concern—it’s an environmental one,” adds the WWF. “When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And if food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.”

It’s actually estimated that roughly “11% of all the greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food. In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 37 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.”

To prevent food waste, plan your meal ahead. For example, you could spend Sundaymorning coming up with a menu for the week. When you go to the store, this ensures that you’ll only buy what you need. And, then you can actually prepare your meals.

I’ve gotten into the habit of this. And, I’m a fan. It’s a type of batching where I don’t have to do much cooking throughout the week. Even though I enjoy cooking, this saves me time, money and even has reduced the packing waste.

As for leftovers? I either freeze them or get creative. For instance, if I’m on day three of veggie chili, I make chili quesadillas out of them to have something different. The rest is in my freezer, ready to be thawed on one of those cold and dreary days we tend to have in the Northeast during the winter.

Bonus points if you make a weekly trip to a local farmer’s market. If that’s not an option, most markets are seasonal around me, look into produce subscription boxes like Misfits Market, Imperfect Foods, Farm Fresh to You, Farmbox Direct, and Farm to People.

15. Regularly Eat Together as a Family (or Team)

Growing up, my family ate together—6 o’clock sharp. No exceptions. As we got older, this became less frequent. But, we still had Sunday dinner.

As a kid, this might have been frustrating. Why would I want to sit down to eat when I could be playing outside or hanging out with my friends. Little did I know, eating together as a family was key in keeping us connected.

It turns out that throughout the years, research backs this assertion up.

While it doesn’t have to be dinner, having meals together is beneficial as it:

  • Teaches children better eating habits. In fact, teens ate more fruits and veggies, and less fast food and sugary beverages, if they ate with their family.
  • It can prevent psychosocial issues. These include eating disorders, substance abuse, and depression.
  • Curtails weight problems later in life. Even just gathering once or twice a week can help protect children from weight problems as adults.
  • Improves children’s self-esteem. During meals, children can talk about themselves, which in turn, makes them feel more self-confident.
  • Bolsters communication skills. Between socialization and conversations, children can become better communicators.
  • It helps kids bounce back from cyberbullying. With more guidance from their parents, kids experience setbacks from cyberbullying like anxiety.
  • It can be used to supplement family therapy. If a family is seeing a therapist, meals provide an opportunity to share the lessons learned.

Before it gets filled up, schedule regular mealtimes with your family in your calendar. It’s a surefire way to avoid conflicts. Plus, it makes planning easier since you can build your schedule around family time.

Moreover, if you’re leading a team, try to have regular lunches together — even if they’re virtual. Studies have found that groups who have lunches together have higher morale and productivity.

16. Shop Locally

What happens when you shop locally? Well, here are 10 positive outcomes courtesy of Independent We Stand:

  • “For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community.” That’s only $43 at a national chain.
  • You’re embracing what makes your community unique.
  • You’re creating “jobs for teachers, firemen, police officers, and many other essential professions.”
  • “Buying from a locally owned business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging.”
  • It nurtures the community since it’s been found that “local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains.”
  • You’re reinvesting your tax-dollars back into the community.
  • There are more products and services geared for your specific area.
  • You can actually get friendly, expert advice.
  • You’re supporting local entrepreneurship.
  • It helps make your community become a destination.

Where’ your calendar come into play? Well, you could mark it for dates like Small Business Saturday or when there will be sales events throughout the year. Or, you could build this into your schedule. If your farmer’s market is only open on the weekend, then do all of your local shopping on Saturday or Sunday.

17. Run Errands At Once

Piggybacking off that last point, reduce your carbon footprint by doing all of your errands in one shot. Let’s say that you have Tuesday afternoon wide open. Since you have the availability, block that timeframe out so that you can buy groceries, pick-up your dry cleaning, or fill your car up with gas — as opposed to running back-and-forth throughout the week.

As an additional perk, you’ll also save valuable time. And, this could be a chance to spend quality time with a family member or friend — which can help you achieve work-life integration.

18. Walk or Bike

Getting outside and getting the blood pumping is a win-win for your overall health and wellbeing. But, if you have spare time and the weather is cooperating, leave your car at home when running errands. While not always possible if you have a car full of groceries, if you need to pick-up items at a farm stand, this is beneficial for you, the local economy, and the environment.

19. Extend the Life of Your Lithium Battery

“One of the biggest environmental problems caused by our endless hunger for the latest and smartest devices is a growing mineral crisis, particularly those needed to make our batteries,” Christina Valimaki, an analyst at Elsevier, told Wired. Consequently, mining operations are impacting local communities, such as those who grow quinoa and herd llamas in Chile.

What’s more, this process can “scar the landscape” and cause toxic chemicals to bleed into water supplies. As if that weren’t bad enough, some mining operations rely on child labor.

Since it’s futile to give-up our lithium battery addiction, we can at least extend the life of our current batteries so that we aren’t constantly replacing them. The easiest way? Not letting your battery completely drain.

“Try to keep batteries charged at an average 50% or above most of the time — at the very least somewhere between 40% and 80% — to preserve an optimal life span,” suggests Jackie Dove and Paula Beaton for Digital Trends. “Even though your charger can control electronic input to prevent damage, you should unplug the phone when power hits 100% and, if possible, avoid overnight charging.”

You can achieve this by putting your phone on airplane mode when you’re working, eating, or sleeping. Other recommendations are keeping your apps up-to-date, removing apps/widgets you don’t use, dimming your screen, using dark wallpaper, and disabling location services.

20. Frequently Check-In With Others

During your morning or evening routine, check-in with a family member, friend, or colleague. It doesn’t have to be much. It could be a simple text message or a quick phone call letting them know that they’re on your mind.

Just checking in on others strengthens relationships, improves your health, and can help you become more comfortable opening up. Most importantly, this can help them overcome any issues that they’re struggling with. Or, at the very least, it can provide a healthy distraction.

The good people over at I Don’t Mind have ten questions you should ask during your check-in. And, after you’ve opened up the lines of communication, schedule a video call and put it in your calendar for a more in-depth convo.

21. Take a Vacation

Vacations are a proven way to improve your life satisfaction, productivity, and both your mental and physical health. It can spark creativity, give you new perspectives, and allows you to bond with others.

While that’s great for you and your relationships, traveling could also support local economies — especially those that have suffered from events like natural disasters. You could also volunteer while abroad. And, there are even options from companies like Responsible Travel that support communities and preserve nature.

If you can’t get away because of COVID or your schedule won’t allow it, plan a staycation. It may not be the same. But, this still gives you a chance to unwind, spend time with those closest to you, and back to your local community.

22. Add Holidays and Observances

Finally, open up your calendar and add lesser-known holidays and observations. Why? Because this allows you to observe and spread awareness on worthwhile causes thoughtfully. Some suggestions are:

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