Category Archives: Scheduling

Why Scheduling Software Is Critical for Modern Companies

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Today’s workers have a wide range of priorities competing for their attention. Clever ways of setting your calendar can certainly help. But meetings, deadlines, and minutiae can overwhelm even the most organized among us. 

With more firms concerned with employee engagement and work-life balance, initiatives like compressed working weeks, flexible schedules, and remote work make the juggling act all the more complex. 

Fortunately, there are tools designed to help. If you’re trying to create a more productive work environment, scheduling software can be the answer. Here’s why modern companies invest in it:

1. Keeping everyone on the same page

Scheduling software cuts down on human error and improves the flow of communication. Switching to a centralized scheduling system lets team members ditch their messy manual methods of trying to keep a handle on where resources are.

With a digital scheduling solution, everyone in your organization can log into a dashboard and, at a glance, see what’s going on. With remote work on the rise, having the ability to sync employees across time zones and geographies is critical — another key benefit that scheduling tools provide. 

What’s more, a software system automates reminders. Should a meeting time change, it can notify staff of changes. This lightens team members’ mental load, and it decreases the amount of time wasted by missed meetings or canceled appointments. 

2. Driving efficiency 

Whatever the size of your team, keeping things running smoothly can be tough. There is almost always room to increase efficiency. 

With a mobile-optimized tool, you and your employees can check and create new appointments on the go. Analytics features can tell you which people you’re meeting with most. The “what gets measured, gets managed” adage is as true today as it was when Peter Drucker wrote it. 

Team members, not just leaders, need scheduling data to minimize fatigue. Fatigue impacts nearly 40% of U.S. workers and costs employers billions in lost productivity.

3. Enabling prioritization

One of the benefits of using a scheduling system is the ability to define and track priorities. This allows you to focus on those tasks that are more important or have near-term deadlines.

Labeling systems are a simple but effective solution. Labeling lets other team members know what’s important and encourages them to row in the same direction. 

A digital prioritization system also minimizes errors. Trying to keep track of things mentally can make you feel like you’re buried beneath a mountain of work with not enough time to get it all done. The more you stress, the further your quality of work is likely to fall. 

4. Creating a competitive advantage

Scheduling tools don’t sell products, but they can help you solve a lot of related problems. This includes internal issues as well as customer-facing problems.


Start with the customer experience. Nearly a third of customers say that they would leave a current service provider if a competitor offered online scheduling. This is particularly true of service companies, such as hair salons, therapists, and mechanics. 

The employee experience also benefits from scheduling software. Say you need to set up a one-on-one conversation with someone on your team. Scheduling software lays out the options, generates notifications, and lets either party switch with a few clicks. 

5. Saving money

Again, a scheduling software can’t stop you from swiping your card, but it can save you money in all sorts of quiet ways. 

Labor is many company’s biggest expense category. Scheduling software can help your team spend more time serving customers and less on things like scheduling meetings and sending time-off requests.

Consider, even implementing scheduling software saves a 100-person team half an hour per person per week, that’s 50 extra working hours. That’s more than a free week of labor. 

Scheduling software is powerful. Don’t underestimate how its small boosts to productivity add up to a big advantage. 

5 Scheduling Software Tips to Get You Ahead in 2020

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Are you frustrated by all the time you spend scheduling appointments? Across a day’s worth of meetings, it may cost you an hour just to get everything on the calendar.

This is a particular challenge for companies that rely on appointments — hair salons, dental offices, massage therapists, and more. Staff and owners need a seamless, reliable way to manage the booking process. 

The right answer is one that’s easy for employees as well as customers to use. At a time when 75% of millennials prefer texting over talking on the phone, online booking tools are increasingly in demand.

The question is, are you getting the most out of yours? Here are five ways to do it:

1. Take advantage of point-of-sale integrations

Many scheduling software tools are designed to integrate with PayPal or other payment processors, but a lot of users do not know it. This feature can be handy for any small business that spends a lot of time chasing clients with invoices.

With this type of integration, you can request upfront payment for services, which saves your staff time and gives your revenue a boost. This can also be a strategy for delivering better customer experiences. 

By having embedded payment options directly in an appointment scheduling tool, you fundamentally make things easier. 

Consider this scenario: After a purchase is complete, a customer’s credit card is automatically charged the proper amount and a receipt emailed to them. It’s just like Uber — no fumbling around with cash or waiting for confirmation.

2. Communicate your policies clearly

Customers want to know what they’re signing up for before they do business. If you don’t list your prices and rules on your site or in your appointment confirmation email, you give people more reason to hesitate and ask questions. 

It’s particularly important to give upfront prices, including fees for late cancellations and no-shows. This reduces the need to explain anything and encourages customers to do their homework ahead of time.

Depending on your business, taking a small deposit may also make sense in the event a client cancels. If this is the case, you can get customers to enter a credit card number when they book and inform them that they’ll be charged in certain situations, such as canceling less than 24 hours in advance.

3. Use automation to reduce wait times

Scheduling software gives you a high degree of control over your calendar. It lets you do things like set “never ever” hours and manage how your availability is displayed. But perhaps most importantly, it allows you to automatically inform others of changes. 

Taking advantage of this creates time efficiencies for both you and your customers. If you’re charging customers for being late or not showing up, it’s not fair to expect them to endure excessive wait times or last-minute changes.

In the case that you’re running late, there are simple notification features that allow you to keep customers in the loop. That way, you can stop a missed meeting from snowballing into a sour customer experience. 

4. Sync it all

If you’re like me, you might be thinking, “I don’t want to use yet another app.” There are so many tools out there that learning to use a new one — even one designed to make life easier — is stressful. 

The good news is that scheduling software is simple, intuitive, and can be synced to most major desktop, mobile, and cloud-based calendaring solutions. Because it works with Outlook, Google, and iCal and more, changes made in the appointment tool will appear on your — and if you want, your customers’ — digital calendars.

Additional useful features include a client list and email integration. Together, these capabilities make it easier for business leaders to build and stay in touch with a large mailing list. The ability to capture emails is valuable, given how exceptionally well this channel gets consumers’ attention.

5. Make the most of the data at your disposal

Many scheduling tools feature reporting capabilities, helping you get insight into your company’s performance, behavior trends, and customer base. More leaders than you’d expect leave this data on the table.

Don’t ignore what you’re paying for. These reports can be exported in a variety of formats for further analysis in spreadsheets and other analytics tools. 

With a greater understanding of your customers, you can better tailor your content and the look of your calendar to those you serve. This can be as simple as adding a custom logo or color scheme, changing a style of speaking or tone, or adjusting the frequency of contact. But it can be as complex as cohort analyses and account-based marketing.

When you take the time to set up your scheduling software properly, you’ll elevate your customer experience and save yourself time. In doing so, you’ll make not just your life easier, but also that of your clients and team members. And surely that’s worth getting to know a new tool. 

Spring Clean Your Schedule: 4 Steps to Greater Productivity

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Modern life is hectic. If you’re not careful, it can become a whirlwind of appointments, notifications, and deadlines. In this state of disorganization, it’s easy to push aside some of your basic needs. 

Working some of these basics back into your schedule is a good place to start, but it should be part of a broader picture of resetting your priorities. And there’s no time like the spring to get that done. 

Truly prioritizing allows you to tidy up your schedule, reorganize your days, and, ultimately, achieve more in life. It’s not complicated, but it does require a little effort.

Create a master list

We have different priorities. There are daily tasks that need attention, targets to hit for the week, and things that need to get accomplished within a month. 

The tricky part is that these competing demands rarely line up, and it’s all too easy to focus on what’s most urgent or right in front of you while ignoring the long-term items. To get a handle on these tasks, you need to get everything down in one place.

Step one is to make a master list — a document, app, or a good old piece of paper where all of your tasks are listed. 

This is in keeping with productivity consultant David Allen’s “Get Things Done” methodology, which emphasizes getting your to-dos out of your head in a systematized way that you can refer to later. This frees your mind of any distractions that might stop you from working efficiently. It also creates a foundation for step two. 

Separate your “shoulds” from your “musts”

As self-development author Brian Tracey says, “there’s never enough time to do everything, but there’s always enough time to do the most important thing.” 

With your master list neatly laid out, you can step back and review it in terms of what you should do as opposed to things you must do. What’s the difference? 

Well, shoulds are habits, behaviors, and ideas that come from other people. These pesky shoulds permeate your brain, and they come from social conditioning, the people you follow on Linkedin, the ads you saw last week, etc. 

On the other hand, musts are the habits, behaviors, and ideas that originate from a sense of what’s important to you. These things are deeply personal, and they have to get done to achieve big goals and to become the best version of yourself. 

The problem is that people often confuse shoulds with musts. Without intentionality, we tend to get overwhelmed by the former and put the latter off. For example, scheduling downtime to do things that make you happy is a must, but the nearly endless stream of shoulds can detract from that. 

When you say “yes” to things on your schedule, make sure they aren’t at the expense of the bigger, more important, long-term items. In doing so, you can reprioritize your schedule to revolve around what matters and reduce the amount of time spent on trivial tasks. 

Clean up your physical environment

Starting a fresh schedule this spring would be incomplete without cleaning up your physical surroundings. Clutter builds up over time, and taking care of the spaces you inhabit on a daily basis can do wonders for your productivity.

Be sure to clean up your office desk this spring. Get rid of the unnecessary documents and trinkets you’ve collected over the last year. Tidy up your home so you aren’t constantly trying to squeeze chores into your schedule.

Decluttering reduces anxiety and gives you a feeling of self-efficacy that can translate to your daily tasks. Do not neglect your physical environment when you are revamping your schedule. 

Build supportive habits & structures

If you’re going to spend the time and energy to clean up your schedule and to refocus on your musts, you need a plan to support these changes.

There are a variety of ways you can approach this. Here are a few:

  • Develop a proactive morning routine
  • Tackle the most difficult things first 
  • Control how your availability is displayed
  • Spend time each evening planning the next day 
  • Practice the art of saying “no” 
  • Keep your workspace clutter-free 
  • Remember the sunk cost fallacy 

Doing these things matter because you are only as good as your habit systems. In his book “Atomic Habits,” James Clear puts it this way: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” 

Everyone thinks they know what’s important to them, but many still get swamped by the minutiae of life. The response is simple: Stop and list it all out. Prioritize ruthlessly, declutter, and then build habits to support your desired schedule.

Steps for Writing a Blog and How to Add them to Your Calendar

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Last weekend I hung out with some friends who I haven’t seen in a while. Out of the blue, one of my best friends blurted out that he wanted to start blogging. It caught me by surprise. He had never expressed interest in this before. So, I asked what made him want to launch his blog. Here are the steps for writing a blog and how to add them to your calendar.

Blogging can help you grow as a person. It encourages you to learn new things, help others, and strengthen your communication skills.

When asking why my friend wanted to blog, his response impressed me even more. The friend wanted blogging to be a hobby. He explained that he had a lot of things he wanted to say, mainly about sports, and share those thoughts with others. Eventually, if the blog gained a following, he would explore podcasting. But, for the time being, he was going to give writing a shot.

I was proud of my friend here. Sure. He did a little bit of research. But, he understood that blogging isn’t a way to get rich quick. It’s a way to share your thoughts or story. It’s a tried and true method to promote yourself, business, or products. And, it’s an effective way to build a community.

Knowing that I had been writing online for some time, and we rarely get to see each other, my friend decided this was the perfect time to pick my brain. And, I was more than happy to oblige.

So, what did I tell him? Well, here’s a recap if you also want to start your own blog. And, as a bonus, I’m going to throw in some advice on how to create a content calendar.

Misconceptions about Blogging

Let’s get some misconceptions about blogging out of the way first.

For starters, you don’t have to be a skilled writer, to begin with. You don’t even have to publish the “perfect” piece of content either. Does that mean you should pass-off your garbage? Of course not. But, we’re all human and make mistakes — this is especially true if you don’t have a second set of eyes reviewing your work.

When it comes to blogging, the key is to deliver quality content that’s unique and is valuable to others. For example, if you are a mechanic offering advice on how to maintain a vehicle, readers don’t care if there are grammatical errors. They just want straightforward and helpful information.

Another misconception is that blogging is difficult and expensive. You have to put in some effort when it comes to blogging. But, if you’re familiar with your topic, this should come naturally to you. As you go on and develop your own voice, you’ll get more comfortable with content creation. What may be a challenge for you is finding the time to promote your content.

As for the price, blogging is pretty cheap. A lot of people will tell you it’s free. That’s not precisely true unless you’re using Google’s Blogger. If not, you still need to purchase a domain and web hosting — which even should cost you under $100.

And, while you may be able to turn a profit turn the road with affiliate marketing or sponsored content, that shouldn’t be your end game. It’s going to take time and effort before you make any real money through your blog.

How to Start Your Own Blog

Are you ready to start blogging? If so, hold your horses. You first need to set up your blog. But don’t sweat it. It should take you under a half-hour to create your blog. And it’s a reasonably uncomplicated process that involves the following steps:

Step 1: Choose a blog name and home.

Sometimes this is obvious. If you’re a freelancer, then your blog name would simply be your name. If you own a business, then it could be the name of, well, your company. Stuck? Think of a name that’s related to your topic. For instance, if you focused primarily on dog training, then the name could be something like EZDogTraining.com.

Whatever name you select, it should be as short and descriptive as possible.

If your desired name is taken, consider adding dashes or small words, like EZ-DogTraining.com. You could also use a different extension like .org. However, if you used a site like Instant Domain Search, you can see if your name is available. If not, the site provides a lengthy list of alternative names.

After settling on your domain, register it through sites like GoDaddy or Bluehost. While there, you can also use these sites as a server host. ICYDN, you need a server to get your blog online.

I’d also suggest installing WordPress. It’s a free and popular website and blog creation tool that’s supported by BlueHost and GoDaddy.

Step 2: Customize your blog.

Regardless if you’re using WordPress or another website builder like Squarespace or Wix, you can customize your blog. Choose pick a theme and tinker with it until it appears how you want it to. That means you can change the colors around, add your logo, or create specific pages.

If you’re using WordPress, here’s a handy beginner’s guide on how to customize your site.

Step 3: Start creating and publishing content.

Now that your blog is ready to go, start creating and publishing your content. I’m going to go into this in more detail in the next section. But, for the time being, have fun with this. Experiment with finding your voice. And, don’t obsess with it being “perfect.” Just be consistent and deliver quality content.

Step 4: Promote your blog.

Unlike “Field of Dreams,” visitors aren’t just going to come because you build a blog. You’re going to need to do some shameless self-promotion. Post your content on your social media accounts. Or, create dedicated accounts that are tied into your blog.

You may also want to try out email marketing or joining online communities or forums. As your blog grows, you could also try your hand at content syndication or guest blogging.

Step 5: Grow as needed.

You need to grow with your blog. That could vary from person-to-person. But, you may have to upgrade your hosting plan, download new tools, or hire other people to write or promote your content. It just depends on your needs and availability.

Writing Blog Posts

Circling back to this, here are some pointers for writing a blog post. I’ll try and keep this section on the shorter side.

Plan your post.

Here’s where most of the work related to blogging takes place. Before creating a piece of content, you need to research your audience and topic. Ideally, this should be something that you’re passionate or knowledgeable about. But, if you need some inspiration, use tools like SEMRush or KeywordTool.io. You could also visit blogs that are related to your site or Quora.

Next, create a list of topics and outline them. I use a Google Doc for this. But, you could also create a spreadsheet using Excel or Sheets. One advantage of this is that you quickly turn this into a content calendar by assigning dates to each topic.

Write a compelling headline.

Your headline should quickly explain what your content is about. Most importantly, it should grab the attention of others. Because of this, your headline can make or break your blog post. So, don’t overlook this step.

Experiment with different headlines and see what sticks by analyzing data like page view or social shares. But, because this is so important, I recommend you give this article from a HubSpot a read to help you generate more compelling headlines.

Write your blog post.

Personally, when I have a topic and a loose outline, I just start writing. I can always go back and clean things up. Additionally, to save time, I try to write a blog post in one session so that I don’t have to keep returning to it.

To help you speed this process along, keep the following in mind:

  • Formatting is crucial. Think about using subheadings, bullet points, and images to break things up. Also, keep sentence and paragraphs short
  • Optimize for SEO. I’m talking about proper Meta Titles and descriptions, keywords, and interlinks.
  • Write in your own unique voice.
  • Include a clear call-to-action.
  • Admit that your post won’t be perfect. Get it over it and do the best you can.

Because this could deserve more time, you may also want to gain even more advice from the good folks over at ProBlogger.

Creating and Sticking to a Content Calendar

Finally, when you have ideas or finished pieces of content, add them to your calendar.

Now, if you’re working solo, this could be a breeze. You could open-up your digital calendar and select the date that you want to publish your content. You could even set a reminder that notifies you to publish that article on an exact date.

Personally, this isn’t a bad method if you are only publishing content a couple of times per week. Maybe that’s because I have a minimalist mindset. And, this technique helps me live a clutter-free life because I’m not relying on too many tools.

Unfortunately, this probably won’t work if you’re publishing daily content or working with others. Instead, I would create a content calendar.

As Abby Miller explains in a previous Calendar article, this is “simply a planner, spreadsheet, or calendar that details the content you’ll be publishing for weeks or months in advance.” Besides giving “you a quick overview of your content schedule, it can also be shared with your team so that they’re aware of deadlines and project details.”

“By creating a content calendar, you’ll be able to plan and maintain a consistent content production schedule, generate new ideas, and encourage teamwork,” adds Abby. “Additionally, a content calendar encourages accountability, use a variety of formats, and see which type of content resonates most with your target audience.”

Best of all? Developing a content calendar can be achieved in just five simple steps, some of which you may have already done:

  • Brainstorm content ideas. These should be topics that answer your audience’s questions, matches your persona, or establishes you as an expert.
  • Determine your publication channels and frequency. Since we’re focusing on blogging, you should do this daily. But, if that’s not possible, focus on quality over quantity.
  • Use a spreadsheet to map everything out. Your spreadsheet should include publication date, author, title, description, publication channels, goals, and keywords. Don’t forget to include the status as well, such as draft, complete, or published.
  • Define the workflow. Develop a content strategy that is comprised of goals and guidelines. If working with others, share this information with them. And don’t forget to assign the right tasks to the right people.
  • Schedule, publish, promote, track, and tweak your content. Set realistic time frames and review data like visits and engagement. It’s the only way to see what resonated with your audience and what didn’t.

The longer you blog, the easier it will be to add titles to your calendar. For example, you may opt to assign a theme to each month as you notice what your audience is looking for. Let’s say in the summer; visitors want advice on how to keep their business operating while on vacation. During those months, your content would guide how to achieve this.

Additionally, as you create more content, you can repurpose it. For instance, a popular blog post from two years ago contains outdated facts and research. You could update it by including the new information, but the meat and potatoes of the best remain intact.

How to Hack Productivity Into Your Schedule

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8 Pieces of Productivity Tech to Add to Your Arsenal in 2020

We show up at work planning to be productive, but too often, our plans are thwarted by pointless meetings. Before we know it, the workday is half over, and we don’t have much to show for it. 

For many workers, productivity growth has stalled. Despite technological advances that should be increasing the economic outputs of hours worked, The New York Times reports that Americans’ recent output of work is growing slower than it has since the early 1980s. 

As frustrating as the situation seems, there are steps you can implement to take control of your own schedule:

Know your tendencies.

Like with most things, knowing yourself is the first step in optimizing your schedule. Your tendencies are a great place to start.

Habit expert Gretchen Rubin has a four tendencies quiz to help you understand how you respond to expectations. You can use this knowledge to figure out what aspects of your schedule to prioritize.

Obligers need external expectations in order to follow through with a goal. If this sounds like you, consider prioritizing the tasks that have accountability measures in place.  

If you like to question everything and prefer facts to opinions, you are a questioner. You’d have to understand the reasoning behind certain tasks before you add them to your schedule.

If you naturally go against rules, you’re known as a rebel. As a rebel, it’s essential to align your productivity goals with your identity. In this case, prioritize the tasks that match your personality, and you will be more productive.  

Finally, if you’re an upholder, you meet outer and inner expectations and love to have goals spelled out. You would probably benefit from creating a schedule that emphasizes your most detailed tasks.

Work when it works best for you.

Many self-help books preach the importance of working on important tasks early in the day. But if you hate mornings, why force yourself to be productive at that time? 

Different people have different circadian rhythms, which influence their energy levels throughout the day. Some people are naturally larks, which means they focus best in the morning. Others are naturally owls, and they focus best in the evening. 

We can’t all be morning people. Align your schedule with times that match your specific needs. This way, you won’t be playing catch-up on all your tasks. 

Having a nighttime routine.

According to the CDC, a third of adults in the United States do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep a night. This can lead to all kinds of complications, including diabetes, obesity, and stroke. 

Not getting enough sleep also affects your ability to concentrate. Because sleep has so much bearing on your productivity, the process you go through to get a good night’s rest might as well be part of your work schedule. 

Create a nighttime routine that includes setting a consistent bedtime, meditating before bed, and avoiding large meals as well as screen time before sleeping. Getting enough sleep makes you more alert when you need to be. 

Have an emergency time fund.

In the same way that you might have an emergency fund for rainy days, do the same with your schedule. Having an emergency time fund means working ahead even when it isn’t necessary. If you know that you need to get a proposal done by the end of the week, for example, tackling it on Tuesday might let you take a long lunch with a friend. 

Having a time emergency fund ensures that you are prepared when the unexpected happens, such as when a meeting comes out of nowhere, when a family member gets sick, or when you have to take off from work for a minor fever. Working ahead keeps your schedule on track. 

Keep it simple.

Trying to fix all your scheduling problems at once can be overwhelming and unrealistic. If you want to make your schedule productive, start small. That way, you can keep it up. 

How much change you can handle at once is up to you. For some people, they might only want to focus on three goals a day, while others can consistently handle six.

The most essential part of working new goals into your schedule is that you stick with it. If you can be consistent with even the smallest of habits, then it will add up over time and become something significant. 

Making the most of your working hours is difficult because there are so many tasks to accomplish, and distractions are sure to happen. But taking these steps will put you in the position to execute even in the busiest times.

How Do You Make a Productive Calendar?

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Life without a calendar would be chaotic, right? Without it would be like driving to a new destination without directions. You would have absolutely no idea on how to get to Point A to B. As a result, you would get lost, frustrated, and arrive late. But, if you had directions, you would stay on the right course and reach your target promptly.

Like your trusty directions, though, your calendar is only effective if it’s accurate. And, the best way to ensure this is by making a productive calendar. That may sound like an ambitious goal. But, if you use the following tips, you’ll have a calendar that you’ll keep you organized and productive in all facets of your life.

You’ll do better with one.

When my friends parents their own business together. They had paper calendars scattered everywhere. There was the primary calendar, a large pad that sat on top of the desk (usually that yellow pad thing), as well as the wall calendar in the office, the car, and their home. After all these years, I’m shocked that they didn’t seem to have many scheduling conflicts. I wonder? I believe the mother was probably the one responsible for keeping it all organized.

Unless you have a schedule that never changes, which be rather dull, there’s no need to use more than one calendar. The reason is that you’re continually switching between calendars. Not only is that time-consuming and frustrating, but it can also lead to conflicts. For example, you may accept a dinner invite with a client on Wednesday night. But, you didn’t consult your personal calendar and didn’t realize you already committed to dinner with friends. Now you have to reschedule one of these events, and someone will be let down.

If you want your calendar to be productive, then only use one calendar that meets your needs. Ideally, it should be easily accessible, work across multiple devices, and can sync with the tools that you’re already using, like Calendar. You should also be able to share your calendar with others with relative ease.

Als, keep in mind that just because you’re using one calendar, customize it so that you can separate the numerous areas of your life. You could color-code different schedules, such as red for detail-oriented tasks and green for exercise. Or, you could make essential entries pop by using all caps or boldface. There’s even the ability to change the default meeting times and reminder notifications.

Live in your calendar.

“Living in my calendar” is a concept I saw in an article written by Jalah Bisharat. And I’m a fan.

“Essentially, ‘living in your calendar’ is a to-do list brought to life,” explains Bisharat. “It forces you to think not only about what needs to get accomplished, but how much time each effort is worth. And even how to sequence your day.”

Here’s what I like about this concept. It encourages you to put everything of importance into your calendar. You then block out specific chunks of time for each of these activities. For instance, you should check your inbox from 6:30 a.m. to 6:45 and then exercise for 30-minutes. Uninterrupted work could be from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. and so forth.

Overall, it’s straightforward and not reinventing the wheel. There also benefits like encouraging you to start and end each day thinking about your long-term goals and working around your energy levels. Moreover, it forces you to only focus on what’s most important. Using entries that are time-bond, will help you fight back against procrastination.

However, I should add that if you don’t want your calendar to become too cluttered, then you must know what to include and leave out.

Your calendar should only include the following:

  • Date-specific appointments or deadlines.
  • Tasks that you struggle with.
  • Learning something new, like reading.
  • Networking.
  • Breaks and downtime, even 15-minutes to do nothing.
  • Self-care activities like exercise or meditation.
  • Monthly themes that are attached to your goals. As an example, January’s theme could be “Jumpstart” where you would begin the year planning a marketing campaign or a new workout regiment.

As for what you should leave off your calendar? Here are the top suggestions:

  • Meetings that do not have an agenda or purpose.
  • Standing or back-to-back appointments.
  • Checklists and notes.
  • Reminders for minuscule tasks like brushing your teeth.
  • Other people’s priorities.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Excellent advice from the wise Ben Franklin. But, how does this apply in making your calendar more productive?

Firstly, be realistic about how much you can achieve in one day. There may seem like you have a hundred different things to do. But, there is no way that you’ll get to them all. Focus on your top priorities, usually between three to five items, and add only them to your calendar. It’s a simple way to ensure that you’re not putting off the things that must get done today to a later date.

Secondly, keep your calendar updated in real-time. If you just agreed to a lunch meeting, then add it to your calendar immediately. The same goes for any other important dates, like a doctor’s appointment or deadline for a project. If you wait to add these entries to your calendar, then there’s a possibility that something else will pop-up and battle for the same time slot.

Employ arrow-method.

Similar to the popular the “rocks, pebbles, and sand” metaphor for time management, here you would frontload your calendar with your most critical crucial tasks. The idea is that once you’ve knocked these out, you can use that momentum to be productive throughout the rest of the week.

Additionally, front-loading your workweek can reduce stress. As explained by Elizabeth Grace Saunders over on 99u, “Front-loading gives you the ability to stay on top of projects that take longer than expected without getting stressed or working into the wee hours of the night.”

“Since all of your must-do’s are taken care of at least a few days in advance, you can easily move would-like-to-do’s to the next day,” adds Grace Saunders. “Also, if a cool opportunity arises, you can make a spontaneous decision to take advantage of it because you don’t constantly have the pressure of racing to meet a deadline.”

What’s more, as the week progresses, energy begins to wane. It’s been found that Tuesdays are your most productive day, with Fridays being the least.

Anyway, back to the arrow method. Nicholas Sonnenberg writes for Inc.com, that this his own calendar trick with “the goal is to make your weekly calendar look like an arrowhead–a lot of stuff, in the beginning, tapering out to a fine point at the end.”

“In order to accomplish this, I schedule the majority of my meetings at the beginning of the week, preferably on Monday or Tuesday,” adds Sonnenberg. “These are mostly meetings I have every week–executive meetings, weekly check-ins, financial updates, etc.”

By kicking off the week with “a pretty packed schedule” creates flexibility, psychological satisfaction, and makes planning easier.

Establish flexible boundaries.

There’s a balancing act here. On the one hand, you need to establish boundaries. That means if you’ve already blocked out a slot in your calendar, then you’re committed. If you reserve a specific timeframe for a meeting or deep work, then nothing else should be planned during that period.

On the flip side, your calendar should also be flexible. What if there is a family emergency that pulls you away from work? What if a colleague can’t meet with you at your preferred time because they got stuck in traffic? You need to have some leeway to address these unexpected circumstances.

That’s why flexible boundaries are ideal. It’s actually how the most productive people schedule-out their days. There will be items in your calendar that are set-in-stone. However, there will also be entries that can be moved to another slot. It’s your decision on what boundaries are rigid or soft. But, usually, non-negotiable items would be work commitments, pre-determined meetings, or anything in your personal life like doctor appointments.

I’d also say that the most natural way around this, on top of scheduling your most important tasks, would be to leave a few blank spaces in your calendar. For instance, there could be an hour slot in the afternoon where nothing has been added to your calendar. That time could be spent handling an emergency or shifting your schedule if you must. Some people, like Tim Ferriss, even prefer to leave an entire day open on their calendar.

Look back to look ahead.

Under-and-overestimating how long something tasks is a surefire way to make your calendar less productive. If you were to block out an hour for a specific task, and it took two, then your calendar for the rest of the day will be thrown off.

Go back and review past calendars to see how much time you dedicated to recurring tasks and appointments. You can then use this information to map out your calendar going forward. If that’s not effective, then track your time for a couple of weeks. You can either use a time log or a tracking tool like Toggl or RescueTime to get a more accurate picture.

Schedule regular check-ins.

Finally, review your calendar frequently. I do this on Friday afternoons to make sure that nothing has changed. Then don’t miss the Sunday night check-up. After all, as time goes on, your priorities will change. You’ll want to make sure that your account for this. If not, your calendar isn’t going to be much of an assistant for you.

5 Tips for Using Scheduling Software for Healthcare

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As many as 50% of healthcare providers are now using cloud-based schedulers to organize their doctors’ schedules. That’s good news for the business, but it also benefits patients.

Nobody likes to sit on hold just to schedule a checkup. Offices that use online scheduling systems offer patients convenience. And because the average call takes 8 minutes or more, it can also free up time for your administrative staff. 

By accommodating your digital savvy patients, you save time and money with the right cloud-based scheduler. Here are some tips to help you use your scheduler for your needs. 

1. Consider your patient volume.

Many online scheduling tools are priced according to the number of users or appointments scheduled over a certain period. You don’t want to overshoot your needs, but don’t run out of slots when people are trying to schedule appointments.

Before investing in a digital scheduling tool, get a headcount of your active patients. Then, ask yourself: Are you planning to grow in the coming year? Is a member of your practice planning to start his or her own? When in doubt, add 10% to the volume you think you might need. 

2. Expect cancellations and rescheduling.

Between 20 and 30 percent of patients cancel and reschedule their appointments. Even if that isn’t true of your practice, it could be in the future as patients cycle through.

Having this many patients move their schedule around can be a huge time-suck for your staff. It can also be inconvenient for the patient if they do not have time to call in order to cancel or reschedule their appointments. The last thing people want to do on their lunch break is to sit on hold with a doctor’s office. 

With a web-based scheduler, patients can cancel their appointments and reschedule they’re at home looking at their calendar. Online scheduling software accommodates their busy life while freeing up your staff to tackle other business needs. 

3. Issue reminders.

Most hospitals and clinicals schedule appointments weeks, if not months out. Patients can be forgetful, but having your administrative staff call each and every patient to remind them of their appointment is a waste of money. 

Embrace automation to provide reminders in a cost-effective way. Most solutions can send out an SMS or email the day before the appointment. The patient, for their part, can respond with a confirmation, cancellation, or request to change the appointment time. 

4. Sync up with their calendar.

Even though patients get reminders, they still may forget about their appointment if it isn’t on their calendar. With the right cloud-based scheduler, patients can click a button to add the appointment to their online calendar. 

Remind patients that most online calendars also have reminder features. If someone wants a reminder 30 minutes beforehand — to ensure they leave work on time, for example — encourage them to toggle that setting in their calendar. 

5. Accept online payments.

Sometimes, patients forget to pay their medical bills. Other times, they relocate and never get the bill at all.

Why not make it easier for your patients to pay their bill? Some cloud-based schedulers hook up with common payment platforms, allowing patients to pay for your services at the click of a button. 

Customization is key. Many tools can be configured to request payment before the patient can see the doctor. Although you don’t want to deter patients from seeing their doctor, this feature will make it so their medical bills never pile up; you won’t have to worry about dealing with collections. 

At the end of the day, cloud-based scheduling is about simplicity: It lets you see your physicians’ calendars and those of your patients in the same place. Through reporting features, it can help you understand trends in your schedule, while billing tools keep the revenue flowing. What could be better than that?

4 Ways Entrepreneurs Go Wrong With Online Scheduling Software

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Weekly Planner

Entrepreneurial work has a way of snowballing. What started as an idea soon turns into a weeklong project, which then swallows an entrepreneur’s entire life. 

Scheduling is a key solution for keeping productivity high. But that doesn’t mean online scheduling is free of issues. Although it might seem like a simple task, calendar management can be a big challenge for a busy person. 

Here are four of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face with online appointment scheduling, complete with tips around how to overcome them:

  • They overbook themselves.

As the owner of a business, people expect you to be busy. But your time is still limited; treat it as such. Overbooking yourself can lead to many frustrations: You’ll feel overwhelmed, your clients will be unhappy, and people within your organization won’t like it either. It’s not particularly motivating to work for someone who has to cancel meetings constantly.

The solution: Protect your time. If people are constantly trying to book a meeting at times when you’re doing deep work, try time blocking. The idea is to fill every 15-minute slot on your calendar with something, even if it’s just relaxing at home or eating dinner. Personal priorities matter, too. 

  • Their online scheduler doesn’t have the right functionality.

Maybe you want to minimize back-and-forth scheduling emails. Perhaps suggestions around meeting locations matter to you. Every online scheduling solution works a little differently. If yours doesn’t have the features you need, look elsewhere.

The solution: Do your research, and pick something that fits your specific needs. Features popular with entrepreneurs include:

  • Meeting notifications and reminders to ensure you never miss a meeting
  • Daily limits so you can cap the number of meetings on your schedule
  • Time zone detection so you’re never confused about the time of a meeting
  • Customizations so you can align your appointment scheduling software with your brand
  • Team scheduling to encourage collaborative work
  • Up-to-date contact information to easily locate information about a client

There are plenty of other features out there; the challenge is understanding what you actually need and finding tools with those features. 

  • They said “yes” to things that aren’t on their calendar.

If you’re going to master online scheduling, you have to learn to say “no” to meetings. When you constantly say “yes” — especially to things that aren’t on your calendar — you’ll feel overwhelmed. 

The solution: Only accept appointments that are on your calendar. If anyone wants a block of your time, even if it’s just for a 15-minute touch base, tell them to add it to your calendar. Ask meetings to be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance so you have time to prepare for them. This may seem like a pain at times, but it’ll save you time and stress in the long run. 

  • They don’t know how to prioritize their meetings.

You may be using an online appointment scheduler that is perfect for you and fits all the needs of your organization. Unfortunately, if you don’t know how to prioritize meetings, your days will still feel crazy, which kind of defeats the purpose of an appointment scheduler.

The solution: An online appointment scheduler can help you prioritize. Follow the 1-3-5 scheduling rule. Identify your No. 1 priority and make that the focus for your day. Then, determine your three medium priorities (these may be related to your top priority), and lastly, schedule no more than five small must-to-do priorities.

If you can master online appointment scheduling, you’ll be more productive and present for your business. You’ll turn your calendar into an advantageous tool, rather than a chore you have to keep up with. Start managing your schedule like a pro, and the results will be borne out in your business.

5 Tips for Setting Your Calendar Availability

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

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

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

  • Align your availability with the company’s.

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

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

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

  • Decide on “never ever” hours.

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

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

  • Control how availability is displayed.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Sync your personal and professional calendars.

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

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

  • Give people a heads up about exceptions. 

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

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

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

7 Crucial Components You Must Schedule Into Your Day

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

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

1. Nighttime Routine

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

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

Our list below includes essential components for your nighttime routine.

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

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

2. Morning Routine

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

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

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

3. Exercise

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

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

4. Downtime

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

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

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

5. Productivity

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

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

6. Outdoor Time

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

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

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

7. Gratitude

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

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

Addition Scheduling Tips

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

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

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