5 Mishaps Businesses Can Avoid By Using Scheduling Software

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Scheduling Software

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

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

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

1. Appointment Overbooking

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

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

2. Late Starts and Delays

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

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

3. No-Shows and Late Arrivals

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

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

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

4. Employee Scheduling Errors

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

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

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

5. Meeting Mishaps

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Energepic.com; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways to Measure Remote Employee Productivity

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remote employee productivity

There are countless statistics claiming that remote employee productivity is greater than its in-office alternative. For example, one study published not long into the pandemic claimed as much as a 47% increase in productivity thanks to remote work.

The question is, how do you know that your team has increased their productivity by half? How can you measure the effectiveness of a remote team — at least, how can you do so without becoming an invasive, micromanaging boss?

If you’re interested in monitoring your team’s productivity without compromising their independence and empowerment, here are some tips to help you out.

1. Set Clear Expectations

Expectations are key. If you don’t know what you’re expecting, you can’t judge if something is productive. In a workspace as asynchronous as remote work, personal interactions are few and far between. In that setting, expectations take the place of overseeing an in-office workforce.

Even when you’re operating in person, it’s essential that you communicate how you expect a project or activity to go. If you’re in the same physical space, though, you have the opportunity to update, add to, and even tweak expectations as you go along.

When your workers are laboring in isolation, they often complete a project — or at least put significant effort into it — before their productivity is ever considered. As global HR solution Remote points out, clear, detailed expectations set from the beginning of a project are necessary when managing remote teams. It ensures that everyone starts on the same page and is oriented toward the same end goal.

2. Utilize OKRs

There are many ways to break down expectations. Standard options include setting clear objectives and utilizing KPIs (key performance indicators) to make productivity measurable.

However, one of the best productivity measurement tools out there is OKRs. OKRs (which stand for “objectives and key results”) is a goal-setting methodology that approaches productivity from a holistic perspective. Rather than just saying, “There’s the finish line. Find a way to get there!” OKRs consider both the final objective that you’re working toward and the critical results required to accomplish it. In essence, this brings both goals and milestones together into one shiny package.

OKRs are powerful productivity motivators. They tie goals to day-to-day work and make it much easier to evaluate if work is getting done. For example, if you just set a goal, you may have to wait days or even weeks to see if an employee has accomplished that task on time. With OKRs, you can measure results as you go along.

3. Track Outcomes

It’s tempting to value time over output. That is always a bad idea when remote work is involved. Even if you ask your employees to report time spent working “on the honor system,” you still don’t know what that time looks like. Instead, focus on the deliverables that come from your employees’ overtime.

Every project has deliverables. Those might be a clear, defined item, such as a piece of content or a prototype of a new piece of hardware. However, it could also come from the work process itself. For instance, if you train someone for a position, the deliverable manifests through the learning experience.

Regardless of the project at hand, it’s important to identify the deliverables involved. This gives you an objective way to measure the success or failure of something. For example, you can consider the outcome of an employee’s work, compare it to the expectation (which should be clearly defined), and then decide if they are productive.

4. Use Employee Feedback

Internal feedback is an invaluable resource. Whether it’s recurring questionnaires, real-time opinions, or exit interviews, receiving input from your team can be a powerful refining tool.

It can also indirectly help with tracking productivity, as well. Have your employees fill out surveys asking for honest, anonymous feedback about their coworkers from time to time. This isn’t an opportunity for employees to snitch on one another. On the contrary, make sure to provide questions that don’t evoke charged responses.

For instance, don’t include a question like “Is employee X productive?” Instead, try phrasing the inquiry, “What are one strength and one weakness of employee X?”

This won’t give you a direct way to measure productivity. Nevertheless, it can yield valuable insight into each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, including how productive they are as seen by their coworkers.

5. Ask for Asynchronous Updates

Finally, You can also ask employees to track their own productivity when they’re on their own. Again, never underestimate the power of talking to your employees directly. As you define objectives and OKRs, ask your team to measure how they’re doing every few days or at the end of the week.

Of course, they aren’t machines that will objectively assess their own productivity, but posing the question can lead to insightful conversations. Even if this leads to biased data, it can have a much more powerful indirect impact on productivity.

Asking your staff to evaluate their own output regularly forces them to remain aware of themselves. This can help them stay motivated and focused on KPIs, OKRs, milestones, and whatever other measurable objectives you might use.

It can be an empowering activity when you engage in regular conversations with each employee to assess their effectiveness together. You’re turning the “gotcha” element of the productivity question into a positive, joint endeavor. You’re inviting them into the process of helping them be more productive. But, of course, having open and honest discussions about productivity is easier if you have measurable OKRs and clear expectations in place.

Remote work is here to stay. This makes it imperative to find ways to measure remote employee productivity without overstepping as a manager. Remember, micromanaging often tends to do more harm than good.

Instead, use the tips above to quietly assess your team’s productivity over time. That way, you can identify areas that need to be addressed without squelching existing productivity through an overly hands-on approach.

Image Credit: Ivan Samkov; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways to Measure Remote Employee Productivity was originally published on Calendar by Abby Miller

Transforming Your Business Into a System With 5 Methods

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Transforming Your Business

Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions, but the motions seem more difficult than they should be? If this is the case, you may need to consider transforming your business in order to tune it up. Inefficient business operations not only struggle to turn a profit, but they can be frustrating to manage as well.

Luckily for business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere, there are plenty of proven strategies for upgrading your business with effective systems and processes. To help you revamp your business, here are ways to transform your organization into a well-honed system:

1. Identify What’s Outdated

The first step you need to undertake is ferreting out the aspects of your business that are outdated. A perfect example of this is a software program that you’re paying for but barely use. This program isn’t providing any value to your business, so it’s better to cancel the subscription and put that money to use elsewhere.

This examination should also include software programs and processes that are no longer successful or have become inefficient over time. In contrast to the example above, maybe you have an antiquated software system you’re hosting in-house that could be replaced with a more modern, feature-rich, cloud-based solution. In that case, the right subscription might be just what the doctor ordered. While you might be comfortable with your current system, you have to learn to let go of the old and embrace the new to keep your business in a winning position.

2. Tackle Your Biggest Project

No business is perfect, even the brands that grace the top of the Fortune 500 list. Your business likely has its fair share of problems. Instead of stressing over every little detail that needs improving, start by focusing on your biggest issues and getting them sorted out first. Once the glaring concerns are out of the way, the smaller details will seem much less overwhelming.

Let’s say your most pressing issue is your appointment check-in process. Customers routinely end up queuing for long periods because your receptionist can’t handle the influx of people in a sufficiently timely manner.

What needs to be done to improve this vital part of transforming your business? You could implement online appointment software that better spaces out client arrivals, or you might create a customer portal that allows self check-in for return appointments. When this major problem is solved, a lot of the smaller issues will be easier to deal with.

3. Organize Your Files

Regardless of the industry, your business needs to keep track of a lot of information. This could be tax documents and HR paperwork or client information that helps you optimize customer experiences. Whether you maintain this information physically or electronically, this is one aspect of your business that must be kept organized.

Start by going through your files to remove any duplicates or paperwork that is outdated or unnecessary to keep. With the remainder, you need to establish some sort of organized filing system. Files can be organized by customer name or number or chronologically.

While it’s certainly easiest to keep your files organized digitally, there are scenarios where it might be helpful to have a physical filing system handy. This will act as a failsafe if the internet ever goes out and you need to access certain information before it’s back online.

4. Clear Out Your Inbox

When was the last time you cleaned out your email inbox? As far as daily operations go, this is often placed in the bottom bracket of the priority list. After months of neglect, however, a cluttered inbox can start to cause problems or even some minor stress as you log into your messy email every morning.

Any email service will allow you to create custom folders for organizing your emails. This is a good place to start when transforming your business. It will declutter your main inbox and make it easier to find past emails that you need for reference purposes. Some email services even allow you to create tags and color-coding for additional organization if you so desire.

5. Make Every Replacement More Efficient

Every time you make a change to your business, make sure that it’s one for the better. The difference should be significant enough to be justifiable. You can do a lot better than swapping out Windows 10 for Windows 11.

We’ve talked about the digital side of your business and how it can be upgraded for more efficiency. While that is still incredibly important, don’t overlook the physical aspects of your business and how they can be improved as well. For instance, there are probably a few ways you can improve your waiting room to make the check-in process easier and more comfortable for customers.

Not every change you make will have an instant impact. In fact, some of the adjustments you make might end up being more of a side-step than a step forward. What’s important is that you try new things and keep track of what does or doesn’t work. Over time, you will be able to find winning solutions that take your business to new heights.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thanks!

Freelancers Today Have More Options Than Ever Before

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Freelancers

What’s the first thing that pops to mind when you hear “freelancing”?

Perhaps you think of someone working from the comfort of home with their laptop and smartphone close by. And, how could you not? This is a reality for 21st-century freelancers, thanks to digitalization. And that’s a good thing.

The thing is, freelancing has been around for centuries.

References to the word “freelance” date back to the early 19th century. Thomas N. Brown first used the term in The Life and Times of Hugh Miller (1809). In his book, Ivanhoe, written in 1819, Sir Walter Scott referred to it in 1820. As it appears in the book;

“I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them—I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.”

However, as we know it, freelancing really picked up steam in the 21st. In 2017 Upwork reported that freelance workforce growth is accelerating and has outpaced overall U.S. workforce growth by 3x since 2014. It was also anticipated that freelancing was on pace to account for a majority of the U.S. workforce by 2027.

And then you know what happened in 2020. As a result of the pandemic, the freelance revolution has now truly arrived. It’s currently being forecast that by 2028, there will be over 90 million freelancers in the U.S. alone, making up over half of the entire workforce.

Why Freelancers Have More Options Than Ever Before

So, why has freelancing become so popular that it’s considered the future of work? Well, here’s why.

Technological advancements.

As technology advances, freelancing will become more commonplace. Because of this, a wide variety of workers, skills, and jobs are available. Typically, technical skills are needed first, followed by creative skills.

It is almost impossible for today’s businesses to fulfill all their technological needs with just a few employees or with one. To solve specific problems, they must rely on temporary workers. Additionally, freelancers evolve along with technological advances.

Aside from what the World Economic Forum refers to as an “acceleration in the adoption of new technologies,” automation has highlighted a rapidly growing skills gap in the fields of artificial intelligence, encryption, big data, the Internet of Things, and non-human robotics.

Roles that require these specialized skills are hard to fill for many businesses. Besides detracting from productivity, that also adds financial stress. Do freelancing and the future of the workforce differ in any significant way?

As companies struggle to find qualified staff, they increasingly rely on contractors to complete tasks that require specialized skills. Data analysts, big data experts, AI and machine learning specialists, software engineers, and IT security analysts will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. The availability of contract work creates a lot of opportunities for freelancers with these skills to pick up contract work to fill in gaps and choose which companies to work with and how they spend their time.

Freelancing is expanding into other industries.

At the same time, freelancing is no longer just for creative industries, according to Hayden Brown, the president and CEO of freelancing platform Upwork.

“It’s also across every business type,” Brown told Fast Company. “We serve 30% of the Fortune 100. They’re using freelance talent in more new ways and mom-and-pop shops. Small companies realize that this is a workforce they can be tapping into. So it’s cutting across all sectors of the economy, [and] all types of skills,” says Brown.

“Freelancers are in high demand in almost every skill area that can be done in front of a computer.”

People are choosing to freelance.

Getting a healthier work-life balance is the top reason people choose to freelance, according to a FlexJobs survey. Seventy percent of respondents said their desire to be a freelancer is related to seeking a better “rhythm” between their career and personal goals.

But, wait. There’s more.

  • Additionally, 62% of survey respondents said that the flexibility of work schedules was a significant factor in their decision to freelance.
  • It was also found that 56% of respondents said that having the freedom to work on their own terms is a huge reason to freelance.
  • The flexibility to work anywhere and move without fear of losing their job was highly regarded by 55% of respondents.
  • 46% of people stated they wanted to select their own projects.
  • 45% of respondents said family responsibilities were the top reason they freelanced.
  • 38% of respondents said they wanted to stop commuting to work, both in terms of time and money.
  • Among respondents, 36% listed increased productivity as their main reason for freelancing.
  • The FlexJobs survey found that 35% of people are willing to work freelance to save time and be more efficient.
  • 30% cited avoiding office politics and distractions as the main reason to freelance.

Creativity boost and deeper talent pool.

Freelancers have many opportunities to develop their creative skills. Accessing diverse cultures and approaches for all fields is facilitated by exposure to international markets and various industries. Freelancers can therefore adapt their activities and projects to different markets, thereby expanding their business.

Likewise, employers can tap into a deeper and more innovative and diverse talent pool. Best of all? They can do this regardless of location.

Cost reduction.

Unlike having a full-time or in-house team, employers can save money by hiring freelancers on an as-need basis. For example, they can outsource a web designer or IT specialist when building their website or troubleshooting. As a result, they can dedicate this money to other aspects of the business.

On the other hand, the freelancing lifestyle allows freelancers to save money by not having to commute to work or by not buying expensive clothes, meals, and so on. What’s more, most freelancers only require internet access and a computer.

Additionally, starting out as a freelancer is very affordable. For the first few months, you may only have to sign in to freelance websites and platforms and pay for your internet service. As for marketing, you can tap into social networks for free.

Hybrid and remote work is here to stay.

Finally, hybrid and remote aren’t going anywhere even as the world returns to somewhat normalcy. In fact, by shifting their talent model to include both full-time and freelance employees, 90% of companies surveyed predict that they will gain a competitive advantage in the future.

Moreover, unlike in the past, workers have more freedom these days to live wherever they want while still having access to various job opportunities. Further, a number of non-technical workers such as marketing consultants, insurance brokers, and financial workers are demanding permanent work-from-home opportunities.

Additionally, an estimated 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least five days per month by 2025. With more remote work opportunities, more people will be turning to freelance.

How to Land Your Next Freelance Gig

Make no mistake about it — freelancing is growing. And, it’s also never been easier to land freelance work.

While you could go the tried and true route with referrals from friends, family, and colleagues, it may also be beneficial to join trade or industry associations where you will be able to meet others who share your interests.

More conveniently, though, you can utilize social media. First, of course, there’s LinkedIn. By joining groups, building connections, and publishing content on their platform, you could reach potential contacts. You can also search for freelancing jobs on Facebook and Twitter.

And, you definitely need to tap into the hundreds of freelance job websites out there. There’s Upwork, FlexJobs, Freelancer, Indeed, and Fiverr for general freelance work.

But, there are also niche marketplaces.

  • Contena and Freelance Writing Gigs for writers.
  • For designers, there are 99 Designs and Behance.
  • Developers should check out Codeable.
  • The Creative Loft is perfect for photographers.
  • What about marketers? Remotive and People Per Hour are worth exploring.
  • If you’re in sales, check out ZipRecruiter or CommissionCrowd.
  • Belay is a sold choice for virtual assistants.
  • Customer support jobs can be found over at We Work Remotely

One final piece of advice. Regardless of your field, you need to have your own website. Nowadays, you can easily do this yourself for only a couple of bucks. But, it’s worth the investment as this gives you a chance to highlight your freelancing skills.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

Freelancers Today Have More Options Than Ever Before was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

5 Ways to Make Time for a Summer Vacation

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summer vacation

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

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

1. Manage Your Project Timelines

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

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

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

2. Communicate With Your Team

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

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

3. Designate a Point of Contact

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

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

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

4. Tend to Prior Commitments

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

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

5. Prepare Your Home for Your Absence

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

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

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

Get It Together – Ways to Use Google Calendar for Remote Teams

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google calendar

Remote teams can take advantage of online calendars such as Google Calendar to better manage their time. If there was a way to keep your team on track and improve their focus, wouldn’t you give it a try?

Google Calendar has several great features that remote teams can utilize to stay organized and plan ahead. Additionally, it can increase your team’s productivity and help with collaboration.

When your remote team has the tools to work as efficiently as possible, you instantly notice results. Google Calendar is one of the most popular and accessible calendars available for teams worldwide.

In this guide, we will show you several ways you can empower your team by using Google Calendar. This includes using features such as appointment slots for better scheduling. You can also create an advanced search to help you track down any specific event on-demand.

Let’s dive in and explore how Google Calendar can help your remote team thrive.

Empower Your Remote Team with Google Calendar

To thrive, remote teams need to be equipped with the right tools. After all, remote work wouldn’t even be possible without the technology we have today.

It’s time to step back and consider which tools you’ve given your remote teams to date. For example, do they have a reliable planning tool like Google Calendar? What collaboration tools are they using most frequently? By understanding their needs, you’ll be able to help them move forward.

In the sections below, we’ll explore Google Calendar’s best features for remote work. You’ll learn how each of these features can benefit your team and what their best use cases are. Let’s begin!

Set up appointment slots

Appointment slots are a powerful Google Calendar feature that lets you block off specific periods for appointments. Instead of having someone send you a meeting invite and accept, these time slots make things much easier.

When you create appointment slots on your calendar, these become “reservable” blocks of time. Anyone who has access to these slots will be able to book a time to meet with you.

This has been used by professors looking to create reservable office hours for their students. It’s a great way to let others know your availability each day and allow them to choose a time.

Appointment slots were created as a way to offer teams maximum flexibility with their schedules. Instead of being required to schedule events wherever they “seemed” to fit, it provides a better solution. Your team can see the exact blocks they can reserve, take action and reserve them, or ask for time modifications.

If your team hasn’t been using appointment slots up to this point, let them know it exists. This excellent Google Calendar feature gives you a good amount of time flexibility.

Use calendar meeting rooms

While remote work is gaining in popularity, hybrid work is also increasing. A hybrid employee is defined as someone who works several days in the office and the remainder remote.

If your team is only remote a fraction of the time, setting up calendar meeting rooms may be worth setting up. This feature in Google Calendar lets your organization create and label meeting rooms. Every room you create can then be added to calendar events and meetings and is shown to all participants.

Based on who you invite to an event or meeting, Google Calendar will help you choose which room fits best. This is established on the data you’ve provided about each member of your team.

Find anything with advanced search

Google Calendar’s advanced search functionality makes it easy to find any event or meeting. If you’ve never used this search feature before, it can be accessed from the magnifying glass. Once you click on the magnifying glass, a menu will drop down with multiple parameters.

Based on what you’re trying to find, enter the appropriate search parameter and wait for your results. For example, even if you’re trying to find a meeting years ago, if the record still exists, Google Calendar should find it.

This is a feature your remote team should consistently use to find past communications quickly. We see duplicate efforts being completed fairly frequently, meaning someone did additional work. You can save both time and money with your remote team by teaching them to use advanced search effectively.

Online and offline notifications

When team members are working remotely, it’s essential to know when each of their coworkers is available. This is made remarkably easy with Google Calendar and the Google Suite of tools.

Whenever a member of your organization is online, they show up as available. This lets other team members know they can finally reach out and ask a question.

When somebody is busy in a meeting or away from their computer, an appropriate status will be shown. If you want your remote team to be as effective as possible, don’t forget to enable online/offline notifications.

While it may not seem like a big deal at first, remote teams can have trouble communicating effectively. If you’ve just recently put together your remote team and begin to run into issues, these notifications help facilitate communication. There’s no faster way to save time and get your questions answered straight away than making the most of notifications.

Zoom out with a year view

Most of your planning will be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, but not an entire year. Has your team ever sat down and planned an entire year ahead, time blocking important events and activities?

Google Calendar features a year-long view of calendar events, helping you see where you spent your time the most. You’ll also be able to look further ahead and make better decisions based on how projections change into the future. If a holiday or critical event is coming up, you’ll have everything you need to plan around such events with sufficient time.

Your remote team should understand your company’s vision and the value your company is providing by the year-long view. Scheduling events in this manner ensures nothing gets missed and makes sure you plan around major holidays far in advance.

Concluding Thoughts

Google Calendar can be an excellent tool for remote teams, improving both their productivity and efficiency. If you have a team that needs to collaborate and work together, ensure you give them the right tools.

We’ve walked through several ways to use Google Calendar within a remote team for maximum effectiveness. This includes setting up appointment slots, where anyone interested can schedule a time to meet or chat.

We discussed using the meeting rooms available in Google Calendar for ease and simplicity. Additional features were the advanced search function, enabling online and offline notifications, and zoom out to a year view.

All in all, Google Calendar is an excellent tool for remote teams to utilize to maximize effectiveness. It can help remote workers become more efficient and improve productivity substantially over the long run.

Image Credit: Caio; Pexels; Thank you!

Get It Together – Ways to Use Google Calendar for Remote Teams was originally published on Calendar by .

3 Time Management Tips for New Businesses

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Time Management

There are a lot of factors that go into starting a business. You need enough capital to begin operations before you can hope to turn a profit. You need a good idea that can sell and the systems to back it up. The most important factor of all, however, just might be your time management.

You could have a million-dollar idea or a million dollars to start a business, but you won’t get very far if you’re not managing your time properly. With all the hats you’re wearing as a business founder, you need to make the very best use of your limited hours. Wasted time is wasted money, and the lack of efficiency can even hurt your business image.

Here are some ways you can get your time management skills in the right place when starting a new business:

1. Maximize Time Management during Training

Even if you start your business by yourself, eventually you’re going to need some help if you’re trying to grow. This means hiring employees and training them in their positions. In order for training to be effective, you need to set aside time for it and have a good plan in place for carrying out training while maintaining business operations.

Start by creating a timetable for training your new hires. How long should training last, and what skills and company knowledge should new employees have acquired by each milestone? Now you can create an actual plan to make that happen instead of pushing back certain trainings indefinitely.

There are two specific tactics you might consider to make training more time-efficient. E-learning modules will enable new hires to self-schedule training during what might otherwise be downtime in their days. They can even do their learning remotely on the go. And because the training takes place via an online module, it doesn’t require other employees to step away from their usual work to train new hires.

That said, there is some employee education that is better accomplished in one-to-one fashion. Sometimes there’s no good substitute for seeing for yourself how something gets done. To help show your newbies the ropes, allow them to shadow an employee with the same role or one who performs similar duties. The veteran employee can share knowledge the rookie employee needs without having to sacrifice their time management in their day-to-day responsibilities.

2. Get on the Same Page — In Your Calendar

Part of your training plan might include making sure you have enough staff on hand to complete necessary tasks while training is taking place. While e-learning and shadowing will minimize the amount of time current employees have to spend training new hires, they’re still likely to spend some. You’ll need to ensure that your customers are still being taken care of and no one is feeling overwhelmed while attention and resources are temporarily diverted toward training. Proper scheduling will make this a lot easier than it might sound at first.

A team calendar will help ensure that all your bases are covered with collaborative time management. Participants in training sessions will get automatic calendar invites, alerting them to where they need to be and when. Veteran employees will know when they need to find a colleague to cover the phones, for example, and the team calendar will show them at a glance who is available. This simple tool will help you keep everyone on the same page every single day so long as you keep it updated. Using a team calendar will help cut down miscommunications and help everyone stay on top of everyday responsibilities.

Beyond the training phase, a team calendar can be used to organize team meetings, coordinate individual schedules, and outline project deadlines. Managers can even look at scheduling links as a way to effectively plan meetings with their direct reports. This tool eliminates the back-and-forth emails and helps prevent accidental overbooking.

3. Allow Hybrid Work Options When Possible

Effective time management is about getting as much done in as little time possible. Sometimes that means rethinking where the work gets done. You can save your team a lot of time by enabling hybrid work options for positions that make sense.

If you hired a web designer or a social media manager, almost everything they do will be online. They can do their job just as well from home as they can in the office. By allowing them to work from home, they can save time and money on commutes and lunches out. The time they regain can allow them to get some extra projects done throughout the week.

The ability to work from home also means that employees can still get tasks done; even when they’re home with a sick child or waiting for the dishwasher repair person. The work-life balance that hybrid work provides can also make your employees happier and more fulfilled, causing them to use their time on the clock more productively.

Time management isn’t easy, but it also doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right planning tools, and flexibility, your new business will be in a great place right from the get-go.

Image Credit: Anete Lusina; Pexels; Thanks!

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments

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Prioritizing Appointments

When it comes to appointments, I adhere to one rule and one rule only. Always schedule your meetings with employees, customers, prospects, partners, and other business associates ahead of time.

The main reason? It gives you plenty of time to plan accordingly and the people you’re meeting. An appointment also ensures everyone has prevents hiccups like calendar conflicts and arriving on time. And it protects your most valuable resource; time.

Let me give you a recent example regarding that last point. I have a new client who needs to go over the project’s scope before we start. Since I typically schedule my priorities well in advance, I’m just not going to stop what I’m doing when he asks if he can call me in 10-minutes. Sorry, bro. I need more of a head’s up.

But, there’s another reason why you need to prioritize your appointments. You’re going to have a much more significant impact on everyone in your professional and personal lives.

You’ll Place Value on Your Schedule

A booked schedule can easily become ingrained into your routine. It’s one of the primary reasons we book appointments. But, sometimes, life just doesn’t go according to plan. Still, it’s essential that you respect your valuable time.

Never let anyone tell you otherwise either. Your time is valuable regardless of your profession, age, title, or how many years you’ve spent in school. Prioritizing your appointments shows you and others that you’re serious about your goals and calendar. In this way, you’re making it crystal clear that you’re not at the beck and call of others.

Whenever you receive an invitation that is not an emergency or voluntary, consider whether or not the appointment will add value to your immediate goals and needs. How will this appointment affect your progress? Will it hold you back, or worse, keep you in a holding pattern?

You can accept the appointment if it fits with your goals and needs. If it doesn’t, you may politely let it go. Or, if necessary, postpone it until you have availability.

Some Appointments Aren’t Worth Your Time

Not all appointments are created equal to build on what was said earlier. Determine which appointments in your calendar app are necessary by evaluating them.

A discovery meeting or an introductory call should it’s as important as a project wrap-up with a client you’ve worked with for years. However, putting that introductory call on hold if it interferes with keeping your client happy is more important.

You’ll Respect Other People’s Time

“Respect is a two-way street; if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.” — R.G. Risch

While you should obviously be protective of your time, you also need to be respectful of others. After all, how frustrating is it when you have a meeting at 3 p.m. only for the other attendee to arrive 15-minutes? Of, even more infuriating, they ghost you?

With that said, here are some of the best ways to show others respect. And how appointments can help.

  • Distracting them when they’re busy. I don’t know about you. But, when I’m in the zone, I hate being interrupted. It’s why I put my phone on silent. You don’t want to bother others when they’re busy, off-the-clock, or even sleeping. Instead, you can share your calendar so that you can both see when you’re available.
  • Not responding. We all know someone who never responds to our calls, texts, emails, or other forms of communication. If you’re desperate to reach this person, you may feel frustrated. Don’t be that person. Lock in a specific date and time to communicate with them.
  • Constantly arriving late. Again, time is a precious resource. If you’re scheduled to meet at a specific time, be there promptly.
  • Not preparing. There’s no excuse for this. If you know that you have a meeting next Thursday at 3 pm, then you’ve had more than enough time to prepare.
  • Rescheduling every meeting. At some point, enough is enough. Don’t let others frequently adjust their schedules because you can’t commit.

You’ll Have Enough Time to Get Everything Done

The time it takes to prepare for an appointment is often neglected. When you don’t have time to prepare, having a series of back-to-back appointments can backfire. For example, the previous appointment goes later than planned, and now you’re late for your next appointment.

Prioritizing your appointments allows you to understand each appointment’s requirements better. Rather than simply winging it, your appointment will be a success due to your active involvement. Again, being respectful by arriving on time and being prepared.

What’s more, prioritizing appointments ensures that you can still get your other work done. For instance, if you’ve had an appointment booked a month ago, then you wouldn’t have the deadline for an assignment on the same day. On the flip side, if you’re swamped, then you won’t spread yourself too thin by accepting a last-minute invite.

Achieves Work-Life Balance

Having a work-life balance can help you lead a happy, fulfilling life.

If you prioritize your appointments, you will only block out time for your most important appointments, resulting in a better work-life balance. If you have met all these appointments, you will be able to focus on the things that matter most to you in life. While this varies, this means having time for your family, friends, hobbies, and side projects.

Tips on Prioritizing Your Appointments

Here are some ways to prioritize appointments to create a productive, respectful, and impactful schedule.

  • Schedule your priorities. Using something like the Eisenhower Matrix, identify your priorities and schedule them first. What’s left can be deferred, delegated, or deleted. It’s a simple way to be aware of your availability for the upcoming week, month, or even year.
  • Use online appointment scheduling software. Did you know that 40% of appointments are booked after business hours? Using tools like Calendar automates your appointments 24/7. In addition, it eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails and phone calls. The software can also send automated reminders and confirmations. And it can even make smart scheduling suggestions with the power of machine learning.
  • Identify the purpose. Ask the purpose of the appointment in the automated message you send when someone requests an appointment. This way, you know what the meeting is about before committing to it. You can wait until a later date if it isn’t essential or if you’re extremely busy.
  • Begin to say no. Don’t hesitate to politely decline a meeting request if the meeting does not meet a goal. Also, sharing your calendar makes this easier since you can block your availability.
  • Analyze your appointments. Finally, determine how much time you spent on each appointment. So, let’s say that a typical meeting is 30-minutes. You’ll want to block out 45-minutes, 30 for the meeting itself, and 15-minutes to prepare.

This will give you an idea of how many appointments you can reasonably schedule each day.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

4 Ways to Boost Your Productivity When You’ve Hit a Wall

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4 Ways Boost Productivity Hit Wall

If being productive were easy, everyone would have scads of Employee of the Month plaques and closets stuffed with achievement awards. Alas, productivity doesn’t come so easily to everyone. A lot of dedication and resilience is required to maintain peak productivity over long periods of time, and even those who are able to do so need all the help they can get.

It’s likely you’ll hit a wall every now and then, even when your best intentions are focused on being productive. What the world’s greatest achievers do when they hit that wall is to find a way around it. Here are a few strategies that they use to boost their productivity during these times and that you can implement in your own life as well:

1. Take a Screen Break

Most jobs today require people to spend a lot of time in front of a screen, and your position is probably no exception. Everyone from marketers to music producers spends hours in front of a computer navigating through different tools and apps to complete their daily tasks. After extended periods of time, the strain from screen light and the sameness of the work can take a toll on your productivity.

You can fix this by scheduling in some period screen breaks. Taking a pause from work does not mean switching to your smartphone to scroll through social media. Instead, take a short walk outside or do some simple meditation. This will allow your mind and body to reset and recover from the stress and strain of the workday. You’ll be able to return from your quick break feeling refreshed and reenergized.

2. Eat a Healthy Snack

Your body uses up a lot of energy while working, even if you’re just sitting at a desk. Getting up for a stroll can help, but what if you are in a time crunch and need to kickstart your productivity to meet an upcoming deadline? Try a healthy snack instead.

Even a couple bites of the right foods can give you the energy you need to push through the next hour or so of work. A protein bar is an excellent example of a snack that can provide a lot of energy in a short period of time. Healthy snacks are always best because they contain ingredients that will actually lift you up rather than give you a quick sugary buzz.

Many people drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks to boost their productivity throughout the day. This is a fine idea as long as you’re able to moderate your intake. While caffeine does boost your brain’s serotonin levels, too much coffee can leave you jittery and worse off than before you grabbed your third cup.

3. Get an Accountability Buddy

There will be days when, despite your best efforts, there is nothing you can do to boost your productivity on your own. On days like this, you’ll benefit from having an accountability buddy. This is a friend, family member, or co-worker who will keep you accountable to the goals you set and the responsibilities you hold to make sure you’re doing everything you need to.

A common example of an accountability buddy is a gym partner. Unfortunately for many of us, getting motivated to exercise is not an easy task. A gym buddy will inspire you to continue chasing down your health and wellness goals even on the days when you’d rather sleep in.

An accountability buddy can help keep you honest when you’re trying to start a business, break a bad habit, or even finish one last task before clocking out of work for the day. If you know your buddy’s going to ask whether you made all four of your planned sales calls today, for example, you’ll be less tempted to leave the fourth for tomorrow. In return, you can be an accountability buddy for them. Together, you’ll help each other to be a little bit better every single day.

4. Switch Gears

If you’re stuck on a particularly difficult task or project, it’s much easier to hit a productivity wall. Instead of bashing your head against it repeatedly hoping it will budge, consider changing course for a moment instead. By shifting gears to a new task or project, you can maintain your productivity for the day and avoid losing momentum.

Let’s say you’re a student working on a particularly difficult math assignment. One of the early problems is giving you a lot of trouble, and now your productivity is at a standstill. Instead of redoing the same problem over and over again, skip it for now and give the next one a try.

By changing gears ever so slightly, you can reset yourself while still getting work accomplished. The next problem might be easier to solve and may even shed some light on what you were doing incorrectly before. At the end of the day, you’ll at least have part of the assignment completed instead of struggling with the same equation all day long.

Once you’ve developed the perfect strategy for breaking down your productivity barriers, you’ll be able to fill your days with many more achievements. Don’t be afraid to take some breaks every now and again, but also be sure you don’t let a little wall get in the way of having a productive and fulfilling day.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!

When Time Management Can’t Help

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When Time Management Can't Help

The concept of time management is often misunderstood and generally unsuccessful in minimizing overload and stress. Although the emphasis on efficiency is admirable — true overload is self-defeating and futile.

Initiate clear time guidelines for selecting what types of activities you won’t do, and develop processes like establishing a day when managers conduct no meetings. There is a zen to taming time, not confronting it.

Remember, there is no such thing as time in the metaverse.

The persistent sensation that there is never enough time causes much stress. We do need to learn time management to tame and manage our time. We aim to convert hour-long sessions into half-hour sprints or schedule more minor activities to reduce wasted time.

But we want to use time management as a stress reducer — not an anxiety producer. As we improve our efficiency, we may add more duties and begin to feel a more significant strain. Attack the core causes of worldly stressors: the sheer amount of work, choices, and diversions.

But time management should be used to reduce stress by freeing up time to take care of yourself. Maybe get to the gym, take a walk or have a massage. Think time management for freedom — not time management as a whip.

Time Management’s Trap

The shift to remote work after the Covid-19 epidemic created a fascinating natural experiment illustrating the time management problem. Working from home saves time (commuting and business travel), and approximately half of remote employees say they are more productive.

A study by Atlassian found that self-reported time savings and productivity increases are ineffective. The average workday has grown by 30 minutes worldwide — the reverse of results from individuals spending their time more efficiently. Complicating matters, the extra 30 minutes of work have mostly come at the price of evening leisure time.

Time management assures us that we can easily accommodate all of our tasks by being more efficient. But, like digging a hole at the beach, time management requires a lot of water to fill it. An hour on your schedule is like a signal flare proclaiming your ability to take on another project or position. So keep thinking about your ability to now claim the freedom to take care of yourself.

Time management has never been useless—productivity matters. But in a society plagued by burnout, we need techniques to reduce the anxiety producers rather than accommodate the volume.

You will want these three options to escape the trap.

1. Reduce task volume

“I’ll handle the budget update for next week’s meeting,” “I’ll pick up something for supper on the way home,” and so on.

As soon as you agree to take on an extra task — the pressure to deliver starts. Any agreement to be broken or renegotiated adds stress and guilt to the situation. The way you hold the line depends on whether your to-do list grows from assigned duties. Or does it grow things you choose to take on?

Prioritize tasks instead of time. When a supervisor asks you to accomplish something, answering with “I don’t have time for that” may seem overly abrupt. Instead, ask, “Where should I prioritize this task versus x, y, and z?” Answering in this manner achieves two goals. In the first place — this gives your superior a glimpse of what you’re working on — and sometimes lets you off the hook. Nevertheless — they set the priority, not you.

2. Reframe the dialogue from a binary option to a collaborative debate

If you want to add tasks, calendar-block first. We typically overestimate our capabilities, leading to over-exertion. Our calendars show some daylight, so we believe, “I can certainly do this by Friday.”

Then comes Friday, and we have to renegotiate.

Best advice — get your self-care actions and family obligation on your Calendar first. If others are synced to your Calendar, and you don’t want them to see your plans, frame the verbiage differently.

My weekly massage appointment says, “On point meeting with Sarah H.” I do combine the massage time with my lunch hour and pound a boiled egg down on the drive over. The point is, we’re not trying to get out of our intense, crowded, stressful work — we come back refreshed and work harder and faster. Putting in time for yourself makes it so that you don’t resent the extra half hour, hour, or longer you stay after work.

The issue is that your Calendar typically only displays synchronous work (tasks you compete with others simultaneously). Then you include meetings, phone calls, etc. Your to-dos are a list of agreements with others for asynchronous labor (tasks you do alone, not in real-time with others).

The answer? Merge your Calendar and to-do list by scheduling time for each task. Getting the complete picture of your obligations (and self-care) allows you to assess your capabilities before taking on more.

3. Decide on principles

We’ve spent the last couple of years making decisions: Do I send my kids to school? Can I visit them? Is it safe to go to work? Constantly facing difficult decisions with limited information can lead to cognitive overload. The overthinking and unknowns in cognitive overload are where mental work demands outpace our coping ability. Cognitive overload raises the chance of mistakes and leads to feelings of overwhelm.

You might start by replacing choices with absolute principles. For example, the science of weight loss management teaches us that “I won’t eat after 7 p.m.” is more successful than “I won’t nibble after 7 p.m.”

Can I have this cup of yogurt? How about some fruit?

The ultimate guideline of no eating after 7 p.m. closes the door. The choices vanish — the result is less overload.

Author and podcaster Tim Ferriss calls the overload scenario “finding the one option that eliminates 100 decision.” Ferriss set a goal of not reading any new books in 2020 — he would finish the ones he’d started. Since writers and their publicists bombarded him with dozens of new or impending books every week, this blanket principle relieved him of hundreds of book-by-book choices.

Steve Jobs famously wore the same thing (a black t-shirt and jeans) every day to avoid morning clothing selection weariness. Jon Mackey is a managing director of a Canadian business. He built his establishment with “No meetings on Fridays.” After failing to safeguard time for serious work by choosing which meetings to accept or refuse, Jon Mackey devised a weekly concentration day.

4. Minimize Distractions with Structure Not Will

Diversions prevent us from completing activities and making critical judgments. Interruptions contribute to overwhelming by preventing us from feeling like we are making headway against the causes of the pressure.

Trying to ignore digital platforms with fortitude puts you up against an army of our generation’s brightest brains. These most brilliant brains focus on exploiting what Facebook founder Sean Parker calls “vulnerabilities in human psychology” to grab your attention. When it comes to distraction, structure always wins.

Several company executives set aside time throughout the day to switch off their laptop’s Wi-Fi to concentrate. Others have scheduled 30-minute meetings for their staff to ask questions and obtain guidance. Then fewer individuals ask, “Can I grab you for five minutes?”

Cathy Engelbert, past Deloitte CEO, banned back-to-back conferences. So instead, it was a 10-minute break for SMORs or tiny minutes of reflection. This fast recovery break meant she wasn’t distracted by the following meeting or carrying over the previous meeting’s agenda.

Conclusion

The answer isn’t to become more efficient and just accept more work, choices, and diversions. Instead, reduce your workload, make choices based on principles, and create a structure to prevent distractions.

Have your new mantra be, Simplify, and make your time management choices reflect a renewed determination to take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your life.

When Time Management Can’t Help was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

Image Credit: Tara Winstead; Pexels; Thank you!

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