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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

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!

How Remote Work Is Changing How We Think About Productivity

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How Remote Work Changing How We Think About Productivity

It has been over two years since we first learned about COVID-19. There are a lot of things we will remember about those first months of the pandemic. The weird Netflix specials we binge-watched and the toilet paper we panic-bought are burned into our memories.

However, one of the most impactful things to come out of the pandemic isn’t our collection of homesewn masks or the rush of curbside pickup services extended by local businesses. What will continue to live on long after COVID-19 is remote work.

In order to keep businesses running and incomes alive, numerous companies experimented with having their employees work from home rather than in the office. This experiment ended up being incredibly successful and is a trend that many workers want to continue. Here are just some of the reasons why many are fighting to retain remote work and what we’ve learned from the experience thus far.

Happier Employees Work Harder

One of the most important points to touch on when talking about remote work is employee well-being. Simply put, working from home makes it a lot easier for workers to maintain a proper life balance. Taking away the commutes and morning prep times allows employees to spend more time with family, pursuing hobbies, or even getting the rest they need to clock in again the next day.

Happier employees tend to work harder. A positive attitude makes it easier to put your nose to the grindstone. In addition, employees who are pleased with their company’s work conditions will be more likely to give their all to the organization that has made this balance possible.

A study of employees who moved to remote work during the first six months of the pandemic showed that productivity was up considerably when compared to the same time period the year before. This came during one of the most stressful and uncertain times in modern U.S. history, so you can only imagine how beneficial remote work can be now that stability is returning somewhat.

Less Is Sometimes More

To grasp the full impact of remote work, let’s turn our focus away from the employees themselves for a moment. Productivity is part of cost management. Every task, product, and project comes with attendant costs. A productive workplace is also an efficient one, and remote work enables that more than nearly anything else.

For starters, companies can spend a lot less on daily expenses when employees work from home. Utility bills are lowered, less paper is consumed, and expensive office spaces with large floor plans are no longer necessary. Even if your employees are only working at 90% capacity in a remote setting, the significant savings you can get from making the move might be worth that and more.

With lower overhead costs, your company can sustain the same bottom line even if it brings in fewer sales or produces fewer deliverables. Yet if you work on keeping your remote workers motivated and productive, which is entirely doable, you’re likely to maintain — or even exceed — previous revenue numbers.

Convenience Is King

Another example of how less can sometimes be more is in the simple convenience of working from home. Employees often feel more comfortable working in their own space, which leads to higher productivity. A Stanford study estimated a 13% increase in productivity for remote workers when compared to productivity in the office.

A quieter, more familiar atmosphere and the ability to continue getting work done when feeling too sick to show up at the office are some of the biggest reasons for the productivity boost. It’s also nice not having to wear dress pants to every meeting and having easy access to the kitchen whenever you want a drink or snack.

Companies around the world spend billions of dollars trying to create ideal workspaces for their employees to get them excited about coming into the office to work. Even if you have a state-of-the-art coffee machine and an expansive lounge, oftentimes the same results can be replicated simply by letting employees work in their own homes.

KPIs Don’t Have to Be So Rigid

Most organizations use a collection of key performance indicators, or KPIs, to measure employee productivity. Unfortunately, many of these KPIs are a bit outdated. The shift to remote work is an opportunity to reevaluate the metrics you track in an effort to improve organizational productivity.

For example, many establishments rate their employees based on how punctual they are for shifts and how much overtime they are willing to put in. While these certainly can be signs of a good employee, they often miss the bigger picture. With remote work, time logged can be much less relevant, so measuring other KPIs will give you a better look into how your team is performing.

Instead of monitoring how much time your employees are sitting in front of a computer, track how many tasks they’ve completed or sales they’ve closed. If they’re accomplishing their regular workload and more, does it really matter when they started work or how many hours they clocked in?

Remote work certainly isn’t for everyone. Some people thrive in an office space, but many others are benefiting from remote work and the productivity boost it has delivered. Modern businesses should seriously consider remote work or hybrid work options for their teams. These flexible arrangements are likely to produce happier employees who work harder and stick around longer.

Image Credit: Ivan Samkov; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Simple Things to Do Every Evening to Make Your Mornings Easier

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4 Things Every Evening Make Mornings Easier

Mornings are supposed to be calm and relaxed, welcoming the new day ahead. And yet, more often than not, they are rushed and chaotic as you scramble to get out the door in time. Add young children into the mix as well as partners, pets, or roommates, and you have yourself a full-on nightmare each day. That’s no way to greet the new day; however, it’s a habit many of us have fallen into.

Thankfully, there are ways to prep the night ahead to set yourself up for success in the a.m. Even if you are exhausted and ready to call it quits, setting some time aside to prepare for the next day is beneficial to your mind and body. It may also shave off a few minutes of the allotted time, allowing you to have a more calm, established morning routine.

Obviously, the pandemic has changed all of our schedules. So knowing how to set yourself up for a breezy morning can be easier said than done. Not sure where to start? Read on for four simple things to do this evening to make tomorrow morning even easier. Your future self thanks you.

1. Check Your Schedule

Before you close out of work for the day, look at your calendar or schedule for the next day. See what you need to get done tomorrow and what tasks you need to carry over from today. Knowing what is ahead can ease your mind. And you can also proactively change or move meetings to accommodate your schedule better.

Of course, if you are a parent, you also need to be on top of your children’s and perhaps your partner’s schedules. For example, if your youngest child has soccer practice after school, you’ll need to decide who is in charge of dropoff and pickup. Or, if your child is on snacktime duty tomorrow, you’ll need to quickly figure out what 30 individually packaged snacks look like.

These are all items you and your partner can discuss the night before. Doing so will help alleviate any unnecessary tension in the morning.

2. Plan and Pack Up

Planning and packing up considers all things that you need to either wear or bring to work tomorrow. This includes figuring out what you will wear by checking the weather forecast. Laying out your clothes or hanging them on one hanger can save precious time getting ready. While you’re at it, put your shoes by the door as well.

You’ll also want to pack your bag, ensuring you have all your devices and chargers at the ready. How many times have you left home without your laptop charger? Guilty. Once your bag is ready, place it by the door, so it’s one less thing to think about. The same goes for any of your children’s backpacks.

3. Do Your Food Prep

The worst time to think about what’s for lunch is in the morning when you’re feeling rushed. Leaving your food prep to the morning is also another way for you to wind up just getting another overpriced takeout lunch again. While you’re cleaning up dinner, go ahead and make your lunch and put it in the fridge. It can be helpful to designate one shelf in the refrigerator to everything that you — or your family — need to grab in the morning. No lunch or water bottle left behind with this trick.

This can also be the time when you prep your breakfast. Smoothies, chia pudding, and oatmeal are all excellent grab n’go morning noshes. If you’re a coffee drinker, now is the time to either pre-set your machine or at the very least pull out your to-go mug and grind the beans. Meal planning the night before can help save you time and money. It can also be a healthy jumpstart, knowing that you have homemade (or at least home prepped) meals waiting for you when you rise.

4. Tidy Up

Ok, cleaning is likely the last thing you want to do after a long day. That said, waking up to a filthy or messy house is the last thing you want to see when you open your eyes in the morning. So doing a quick tidying up the night before can be beneficial to how you start the next day. It helps close out the day and transition yourself out of work mode into nighttime mode.

We aren’t saying you need to pull out the vacuum cleaner, per-see. But doing small tasks like wiping down the counters can mean smooth sailing in the a.m. If you live with others, you can make this a family chore or a roommate task. Ask everyone to go around the house and pick up any loose clothes off the floor or help load the dishwasher. It’ll take less time when everyone is involved, and maybe a chance for the mess to not happen in the first place.

Takeaways

A productive, less stressful morning starts the night before. Whether you are a morning person or not, these four tips will help you feel better and calmer each morning. By checking your schedule and planning ahead, you’ll know what to expect and how to approach the next day.

And by doing all of your meal prep and tidying your space, you will fall asleep knowing you really have to grab and go before heading out the door. So start implementing these tips today and start welcoming more calmer mornings.

4 Simple Things to Do Every Evening to Make Your Mornings Easier was originally published on Calendar by Choncé Maddox.

Image Credit: Lisa Fotios; Pexels; Thank you!

Never Tell People You’re ‘Too Busy’ (But Show Them That Your Time Matters)

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Never Tell People Too Busy Show Them Your Time Matters

As a business owner, your time is always in short supply and you may feel like you’re constantly busy. It’s a struggle to fit every meeting, deadline, phone call, and commitment into your online calendar. That’s even before you make time for family and personal endeavors.

Part of this balancing act involves dealing with the people around you. You never want them to feel like you’re too busy to be an effective leader, business owner, parent, or friend. Giving them this impression can hurt your relationships, reputation, and business.

Managing your time while still showing others that their time matters to you is a challenge, but it’s not an impossible one. Here are a few methods you can implement to find a balance and keep everyone — including yourself — happy:

Communicate Your Priorities

Make sure anyone who wants to meet with you knows your top priorities. This will set accurate expectations for the future about how you use your time. For example, if you explain to your clients that your weekends are reserved for family activities, they’ll be more likely to respect your boundaries during those days.

Your responsibility is to then reciprocate that respect for your work connections. Intentionally set aside time where you’re able to devote your attention to work meetings and client phone calls without interruption. This way you’ll always be able to address your clients’ and colleagues’ needs as they come up without letting work spill over into your other time commitments.

Make Efforts to Reschedule

When you have to decline events, which will happen on occasion, make an effort to reschedule if possible. This will show others that their time and concerns are still important to you.

If you need to cancel a scheduled meeting, be the one to take the initiative when rescheduling. Words are empty if they’re not backed by actions. By reaching out with your updated availability, the person you’re meeting with will know that you actually want to meet with them and respect the time they’re setting aside for you.

The biggest problem with rescheduling is trying to resync calendars. This can be easily bypassed by using scheduling links. You can send over a link containing your availability in a single email. The other party can then select an available time slot to reschedule the meeting. No extensive back-and-forths are required.

Focus on Shorter Engagements

Instead of continuing to turn down meetings and commitments because you’re too busy, try focusing on shorter engagements. They will take a smaller portion of your day while still allowing you to touch base with the many important people you need to interact with.

Those long, weekly meetings can be replaced by emails and quick phone calls interspersed throughout your day. The best part is that you don’t have to tell anyone that you’re taking this new approach because you’re feeling too busy to commit to large time blocks. All they’ll see is that you’re committed to reaching out regularly and making an effort to respect their time by being brief and direct.

Improve Your Time Management

If you truly value your personal time and that of others, you’ll make a greater effort to improve your time management. Few people are actually using all of their time effectively. There are many improvements you can likely make that will open up more time for other people.

For example, you might have missed the last team brainstorming meeting because you had a few conflicting deadlines to address. How many of these conflicts could have been avoided through better time management? It might be time to start time blocking or looking for ways to fight procrastination so that this doesn’t occur in the future.

Recognize When Being Busy Isn’t Enough

An important side note is that there is a key difference between being “busy” and being productive. Being busy isn’t always a good thing, especially if you’re not accomplishing much. Not only will busywork make it more difficult to show that your time matters, but it can also lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety.

Those are good reasons to begin prioritizing your regular task list. Some commitments, such as meetings with tenured clients or nightly dinners with family, will receive higher priority. Conscious prioritization will help you to decide which tasks and events you can justify putting off or rescheduling and which ones deserve your attention the most each day.

Of course, this doesn’t mean those low-priority tasks should be completely forgotten. You can’t get out of cleaning out your inbox forever. What’s important is not allowing these smaller tasks to derail everything on your schedule, especially those responsibilities that are of greater magnitude.

Respecting your time and the time of others is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner in any industry. Keep working on it, and everything from project management to client retention will become easier for you.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!

Why You Should Use Scheduling Software

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Why Should Use Scheduling Software

Using scheduling software improves time management. But not everyone is making use of this new technology. When you don’t utilize your time management software — it’s similar to having a new Ferrari, but driving it barely five miles under the speed limit.

To unlock a sports car’s ultimate speed, you must understand its engine. You must learn software advantages and how to leverage the power it has to boost your productivity. You’re only getting surface value for your software if you’ve looked at it solely like the Ferrari above — and only been interested in the paint and leather seats. Change how you think about your scheduling software.

Anticipate What Your Software Can Do for Productivity

Living in the moment is exciting but not very productive when you’re thinking about software. So you need to plan if you want to maximize your time using the software. Ask any industry leader or successful entrepreneur how much planning goes into their daily lives — and the same goes with using a piece of software.

You should plan daily, weekly, and monthly by changing your schedule program’s perspective. Above all, with daily planning, you may schedule challenging tasks at times when you know you are more productive. For example, plan all meetings and deadlines weekly. Monthly planning allows you to review your own KPIs and prepare for a more productive month. Meanwhile, your scheduling software lets you and others cooperate and plan together when you all have open times.

Leaders must juggle several jobs, duties, and deadlines. Your scheduling software will also assist in decreasing manager-team misunderstanding and miscommunication. For example, X’s new blog post is due tomorrow morning, with editing by an in-house editor at the end of the day — is that on the editing schedule? You need to have a spot to manage your team’s metrics for your scheduling software. He says the metrics help team leads and managers plan their time for each development cycle.

Personal-Professional Balance

Even if your profession is vital to your lifestyle, your family and yourself should always come first. According to a Deloitte study,  organizations that promote work-life balance see double the employee productivity. Therefore, the most excellent scheduling software encourages work-life balance.

Set aside time for family. Schedule dates with your spouse and your children’s athletic events and recitals. These events should be non-negotiable, and you may arrange them using the same tools you use for your business.

The balance between work and life is much easier to accomplish. Use scheduling strategies that help you maximize your productivity while on the clock. For example, the Pomodoro technique divides work into little blocks with brief pauses in between. Using this scheduling strategy will help you focus better during the day, do more things in less time, and take less work home.

Color Coding for Geeks — Great at-a-Glance Scheduling

A unique color-coding system helps you to comprehend your itinerary quickly. Each item on your timetable can be assigned a different color. Red can be used to highlight important client meetings. For example, yellow can represent longer-term tasks like planning or reporting. Blue may stand for family time, personal obligations, etc. To complete activities faster, you’ll want to establish your schedule’s priority. There are many ways to accomplish this.

Visual cues can help people understand information faster, so go ahead and be colorful. Once you learn your color code, your daily schedule will inform you where and when you need to be. For example, a red light indicates a board meeting that you must prepare for. Consequently, no matter what the event is, a sliver of blue at the end of your schedule will remind you that you can’t work late tonight because you have a family event.

Set Alerts on Scheduling Software

Scheduling an event isn’t always enough — you’re not using scheduling software to its full potential if you don’t set reminders for important events. Therefore, setting up reminders for each meeting or appointment will help you keep track of your schedule. Remember to set an alarm for your travel time as well.

Your reminders will serve as a backup if you forget something or misplace your paper notes. There’s nothing worse than missing a critical meeting or giving the incorrect impression — these types of things damage careers. Use your scheduling program to avoid this.

Reminders can also help you prepare for upcoming occasions. Consequently, a half-hour notice before a big presentation provides you time to gather your thoughts and organize your materials. You should know yourself well enough to see if you need more time than a half hour. That’s all you will need if you have prepared the night before and have everything ready to go for that meeting.

Others to Contact in Scheduling Software

Preparing and attending a meeting where the other party does not show is counterproductive. Both parties must agree on a schedule. Even if you do everything perfectly —  there are times when someone may be late or not show up for a meeting. All your planning and organizing will be for naught.

To avoid this, send reminders to folks with whom you have made plans. Most scheduling software allows you to set up reminder messages.

Leaders can create the perfect reminder once and use it for all future engagements for everyone on their team.

People won’t have to worry about colleagues or clients skipping meetings or writing personalized emails every time. They may also share a meeting agenda or a scheduling link to improve collaboration — and the same process and work while managing your hybrid teams’ hybrid work schedules.

We need to cease utilizing our scheduling software for only the basics. Instead, leaders should use this software tool’s array of valuable features to boost productivity companywide.

Start today to make the most of your time. Remember that using your scheduling software — “now” — spelled backward means you’ve “won.”

Why You Should Use Scheduling Software was originally published on Calendar by Choncé Maddox.

Image Credit: Vlada Karpovich; Pexels; Thank you!

Why You Should Say Goodbye to ‘Crazy Busy’ Once and for All

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Why You Should Say Goodbye Crazy Busy

Lots of professionals like to brag about how loaded their schedules are and how many events and projects they have on their plate. While it certainly is admirable to be a productive contributor to society, this attitude can have a negative impact. It isn’t always a good thing to be crazy busy all of the time.

When you’re busy just for the sake of being busy, you’ll jump around from task to task without accomplishing much. You’re also more prone to experience high levels of stress and anxiety when your schedule is always jam-packed and you’re rushing from place to place. Not to mention, you’ll likely miss deadlines you have to meet due to the pressure you’re under.

By improving your time management skills, you can get just as much done in less time. Instead of being insanely busy, you can enjoy the same accomplishments while also having time to spend on yourself and your family. This leads to a much more fulfilling life. Ready to say goodbye to the crazy busyness once and for all? Here’s what you need to do:

Learn to Say ‘No’

It can be a real challenge to decline a meeting or an appointment, especially when it pertains to your business. What many business professionals often overlook is that firing on all cylinders 24/7 can lead to high stress and burnout. Your business will be in greater jeopardy if you’re not taking care of your mental health than if you miss a single meeting.

When your social meter is drained, don’t force yourself to accept an event invitation. If the other party has something important to meet about, they would much rather you be there when you are functioning at 100%. You can always delegate a representative to attend the event for you or ask for a reschedule while you take some time for yourself.

If you struggle with putting yourself first, add self-care time to your calendar. People will respect that you are dedicating time to recharge so that you’re always operating at full capacity. With numerous changes to the workplace, such as remote work and flexible schedules, you’ll need to resist the impulse to be always “on.” You’ll be surprised by how supportive many people will be when you openly discuss your personal needs.

Create Time Blocks (Including Breaks)

When working on several projects each day, you’ll find a lot of success by setting time blocks for yourself. This is a scheduling tactic that involves breaking down your day into set time increments. Within each of these schedule blocks, you focus all of your time and attention on the individual task at hand and nothing else.

This time management method works in two ways. First, it helps you focus your attention on one task at a time. If you stick with your time block, you won’t let distractions stop you from accomplishing your daily goals. Secondly, time blocks allow you to map out your day more effectively. If you’re trying to get less busy and more efficient, your time blocks can reflect that.

You should also include break time in your time blocks. During a busy day, it can be hard to take a step back from your labors or even justify doing so. If breaks are purposefully scheduled into your day, you’ll find it easier to step away for 10 minutes and keep your energy and morale high throughout the entire workday.

Set Goals for Each Meeting

Some people hold meetings just for the sake of having meetings. Gathering together looks like productivity on the outside. In reality, business professionals are wasting an unbelievable number of hours in meetings that could be used in dozens of more beneficial ways.

Never hold a meeting without a definitive plan. The lack of an agenda is a red flag that an upcoming meeting has no real purpose or direction. Instead of sitting in an hour-long meeting grasping at straws, you could be wrapping up projects or making sales calls.

When a meeting has a specific goal, it offers actual value. Everyone in the meeting can now work toward an endpoint, whether it’s a new tagline for a rebrand or analyzing the financial numbers from the last quarter. Once you’ve met the goal, you can adjourn the meeting without taking up any more precious time from the team’s schedule.

Get Into Automation

A lot of business is busywork. It might feel good that you’re chipping away at tasks that benefit your company, but there’s often a better way. Many of these menial tasks can be automated and completed with just as much efficacy.

Examples of automation include email marketing, employee time tracking, and even data entry. The more tasks you are able to automate, the more your schedule opens up. You can now focus your time on larger projects that require higher-level attention rather than going from routine task to routine task trying to keep your business running every day.

Try to replace busyness with enhanced productivity in the coming weeks. Pay attention to how you feel at the end of your trial period. Do you feel less stressed? Now look at your achievements during that same amount of time. You’ll be amazed to see how much you can accomplish by making this simple shift in your mindset.

Image Credit: Christina Morillo; Pexels; Thank you!

 

Reasons to Stop Planning Too Much — Live in the Now.

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Reasons Stop Planning So Much Live Now

It seems easy enough, yet we humans struggle to appreciate the present. Why? We frequently speak only of our future plans — but what about building your now? You hear, “Know your why.” Start thinking, “Know your now.”

Some people think we lose out on fantastic moments because we are too busy rehashing previous events or preparing for the future. We seldom pause to smell the flowers. We don’t enjoy the moment. Keep the destructive process from becoming the precedent.

It’s sad not to be in your own personal time zone — since we don’t know how many more moments we’ll have. Meditation and many of the healthy habits we work to learn are all about living in the now.

Go ahead and plan your life in detail.

This is not suggesting we spend less time planning. To leave out the planning is terrible counsel. Setting goals is critical to our personal and professional happiness. Setting and achieving realistic objectives fosters personal accountability. Careful planning is a kind of goal-setting that gives significance to our lives since it requires devotion, hard effort, and tenacity to achieve.

Some people feel our culture has gotten obsessed with planning. We frequently speak about constructing for the future, but what about building the now? We all want true pleasure, and to experience it, we must live in the now. Focusing only on the future causes tension and negative thoughts and even uncertainty to enter our thought processes.

Why should you concentrate on living now instead of preparing too far ahead?

1. Right now is the only moment you can control.

No matter how much you plan, you can never predict how life will unfold. You will only know when you are there.

The only moment you can control is this one right now. You may either appreciate or despise the situation. And of course, you may also choose to squander the moment by ignoring it, but the choice is yours.

Planning won’t get you out of the moment. It may help you achieve your objectives, but it will not enhance your current quality of life. Planning for the future won’t ensure a desirable result, so why not focus on the now?

2. Enjoy every minute in the now.

Nobody knows how many moments you will get to experience. This is vital to understand. Nobody knows when their next moment will be gone. Your next moment isn’t specific, so why not make the most of it?

You can’t have this perspective if you’re always planning your next level. You can only feel this excitement for life by living in the now. It’s trite and impractical, but it’s true.

Don’t waste time. Plan when needed, but not at the price of enjoying the moment. Life is brief, so enjoy it while you can.

3. Being present reduces stress.

Too much future and past thinking generate stress. Some of the stress that comes from not living now may be harmful to one’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Yes, your thinking takes a controlled effort to remain within a balanced life — but the effort will be worth it.

The over-planners hinder themselves from living in the present and cause unneeded tension in their life. Invigorate your life with present-focused living practices.

You certainly don’t have time to meditate for five hours a day and not make plans for the future, but making tiny adjustments will help decrease stressors and help you be able to get a jump on the inevitable problems that come up in life.

Observe when your mind starts focusing on the future instead of the current moment. Ask yourself whether this is required. Being conscious of your thoughts can help you be more present.

4. Plans seldom come to fruition as expected, so live in the now.

Know that you have planned the best you know-how, and expect that things don’t always turn out as your plan dictates whether you like it or not. How often have you attempted to plan something that didn’t work out? What happened? Did you become offended, or did you accept and comprehend the situation, do something else, or move forward?

Plans go awry. You fail a lot as an imperfect species. It is inevitable.

Trying to plan every stage of your life is tricky and unhealthy. Plan for the best — but be determined that you will not be annoyed or disturbed when those plans don’t work out.

You don’t have to prepare for the worst — just have contingency plans here and there in your life — then, just let life happen and be.

Make preparations if that helps you, but don’t lose sight of the moment. If your plans don’t work out, try to accept them.

5. Being present makes you happy now and in the future

Some people don’t like using the term “makes you happier” since nothing makes you happier than yourself. With that in mind, living in the now is one of the surest ways to achieve true joy in your life. But, yes, happiness is a choice most of the time.

Without going into all the statistics and studies, it is clear that living in the now is one of the most important keys to happiness. Too much long-term planning will keep you from enjoying the moment.

Take a moment each day and observe how living in the now has made you feel? How can you make a better plan? How can you remain in the present if your plans take a dive off the planned course? Plan when necessary, but keep an eye on the present.

Strike a balance between spontaneity and forethought. You can only control the present moment.

You’ve heard it before if you’ve worked on mindfulness at all — this moment is a gift. Try to believe that and be okay with the statement. Enjoying the present reduces stress. Recognize that plans don’t always go as planned. Accept the moment and be joyful.

Plan as you see fit. Save for a family and a home — then invest in yourself. Set and achieve objectives. As you plan, put yourself first and don’t lose sight of where you are now.

Reasons to Stop Planning Too Much — Live in the Now was originally published on Calendar by

Image Credit: Jill Wellington; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways to Streamline Your Schedule So You Don’t Miss Anything

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Streamline Schedule Don't Miss Anything

How you use your time each day is extremely important. If you want to be as productive as possible within an 8-hour workday, you need to learn how to best allocate your time. By following a proper schedule, you can get a lot more done in the same time period.

Slapping events and projects onto a calendar is only the start. Once you’ve got a schedule laid out, you need to maximize it. A few simple adjustments will get your schedule firing on all cylinders, streamlining your personal workflow without missing any important details or activities.

1. Use Collaborative Scheduling

Team calendars are a great way to optimize not only your own time, but that of everyone in the office. In a collaborative workplace, a lot of your schedule will be dependent on the people you work with. Meeting times, hybrid work schedules, deadlines, and more need to be coordinated throughout the entire organization without missing a beat.

With a shared team calendar, all of this information can be found in one place. This way, everyone knows what’s going on and can check each other’s schedule before booking meetings or appointments with one another. This will keep you in the loop even during a busy week where keeping track of all of these events seems impossible.

2. Take Advantage of Event Reminders

You can’t always rely on your memory, even if you have a mind like a steel trap. Reminders will provide a failsafe for every event and appointment you book so that even if you do forget about one, you’ll be able to jog your memory in time.

Consider the best event reminder strategy for each meeting and appointment. Instead of accepting the 10 minutes prior default, you may need to set some reminders a couple of hours in advance. That will give you time to prepare for the meeting beforehand and still arrive on time. Reminders set the night before an event might remind you not to overbook your schedule for the upcoming day. In some cases, you might even benefit from multiple reminders to help you through every stage of the process.

3. Avoid Overbooking

Whatever type of time management or scheduling software you use, make sure that it has a feature that prevents you from scheduling events that conflict. If your program of choice doesn’t alert you to potential overbooking, you may inadvertently stack events together and get yourself into quite a predicament. It won’t be until your events collide in real time that you realize the mistake you’ve made.

The right software will ensure you don’t actively have to think about overbooking. While you’re making plans, it will stop you from scheduling too much. This will allow you to shift events around or reschedule various commitments so everything works out. If you’re not getting any alerts from a program with this capability, it means you’re good to go.

4. Set Up a Scheduling Link

One way to streamline your schedule is to get other people to organize it for you. This might sound like an abdication of responsibility, but it’s actually quite practical. All you need to do is set up a scheduling link for yourself.

This link will be connected to your online calendar software. You can attach it at the end of emails or on a website for others to access. By using the link, coworkers, clients, and others can see your availability and schedule a time to meet with you. This eliminates the seemingly endless back-and-forths that occur when two parties try to coordinate schedules.

You can update your scheduling link to only allow certain times of day to be made available to others. This way no one will book a time slot where you’re at the gym or taking a lunch break. If every day follows a different routine, you can adjust your scheduling link accordingly.

5. Don’t Overdo It

If you don’t want to miss anything on your schedule, stop overpacking it. If your schedule is constantly at its breaking point with meetings, phone calls, deadlines, and events, you’ll run a higher risk of missing something important. This could create a catastrophic domino effect — or at the very least be incredibly stressful to handle.

Cutting back can be easier said than done, especially for busy professionals. Instead of hoping that your schedule will magically develop breathing room, try a new approach. For example, you can force yourself to include 10 minutes of buffer in between each commitment. This will ensure that you always have time to make it to your next appointment or prepare for back-to-back meetings.

Another thing you can do is track your time. Certain calendar apps will monitor how you’re spending your time, which can help you plan more efficiently in the future. By tracking your schedule, you may realize that you’re spending too much time in meetings and can take steps to cut down the number or duration of those you schedule.

To improve your time management, try to review your schedule at least once a month. Make some slight adjustments and continue pressing forward. By year’s end, you’ll have the most streamlined schedule possible.

Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thank you!

Maintaining a Schedule Can Help You Live Longer

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Maintaining Schedule Help Live Longer

Some may go on and on about how a schedule of activities or routines inhibits creativity or spontaneity. Of course, there may be a situation or two where that would be true — however, there are other situations in which this is not the case. Maintaining a schedule frees up time for your creative ventures.

People who do not adhere to a schedule, are more likely to skip appointments, postpone necessary work, live or work in an unorganized environment, and haphazardly finish projects if they finish at all.

It’s a recipe for catastrophe in every sense of the word. So how do you plan for uncertain times?

If you want to be successful, you must recognize the importance of having a schedule – one that sets dates and times that will allow you to arrive on time, finish the duties at hand, and prepare for extra successes.

The Best Way to Get Started With a Schedule

So, what is the best way to get started with a schedule? One of the most important things you can do is ask crucial questions. It is to ensure that you fully comprehend the timetable given to you.

For some individuals, keeping a timetable is as easy as checking off the items on a to-do list as they come across them on their computer. On the other hand, others may find that more specifics allow them to simplify a timetable or completely integrate a calendar into other parts of their lives.

Asking which activities on the schedule are the top priorities or which items on the plan may be postponed or swapped with other things are examples of questions you would ask.

Track Your Time — do Some Research

After completing your research, you may find that you need to change certain aspects of your life. You may find there is no link to your work or school schedule. As you would expect, not all of these activities are time-suckers; instead, they merely need a reorganization of your time.

Taking a two-hour lunch break, for example, may need to be shortened to one hour or half an hour to complete other tasks on your to-do list within that period.

If your goal is to spend the early Saturday morning hours with research at the library it may be necessary to shift your shopping habits to Sunday nights if you have been used to doing it on Saturday mornings. And remember that not all timetables are etched in stone. For example, you may change your schedule to accommodate new jobs or projects that need more or less time to complete than initially planned.

Following your experience, a few well-placed questions, and some minor rearranging, you will have a timetable that you can safely follow—knowing that your new schedule will lead you to achieve the essential tasks vital to your life. Much less effort has to be expended when you make a reasonable plan for your essential work.

The times, they are a-changin.’

Yes, the times change. Our schedules reflect this volatility — or they should. But sometimes, we keep our heads in the sand. Like the ostrich, we do not wish to see what’s happening around us, and we may try to duck out on reality. With careful observation, you’ll be able to see what types of procrastination are interrupting your schedule. Don’t be one that refuses to schedule in needed changes in your life. Go ahead and admit that your time management skills need a little refurbishing and just do it.

Being Flexible is Not the Same as Being Careless

When scheduling conflicts arise, as they will, a quick response is usually best. However, hemming, hawing, and beating around the bush is an excellent way of alienating others. Instead, be decisive with what commitments you say you will make, then stick with your decision. Opportunity melts like frost, and, especially as an entrepreneur — you have to take the reins and move quickly.

The most significant fatality to time management success is being noncommittal and deciding not to decide. After all, who looks back with pride at all the appointments they didn’t keep — and the decisions that were put off? There never seems like enough time, but actions that were never planned won’t be something you are proud of in the future.

It’s all in the timing

Professional comics say it’s all in the timing and point to the times to speed up and when to slow down. When the comedians hold a pause or stomp the punchline at the right moment — it’s magical. Timing can basically be applied in the same way for business leaders and organization managers. Timing is everything.

The Bible intones “there is a time and season for everything.’” So it is in business — there’s a time to start — and a time to end. A time to let go. A time to meet — and a time to lock the door and go over the audit yourself.

The trick is to know when to do what. And that trick is simple. Psychology Today has a great time management test. IF you follow basic time management principles, you can adapt to your particular circumstances. And IF you take advantage of the latest time management technology and theory, you will be a lot further ahead than if you don’t.

Basics of Time Management and Living Longer and Peacefully

Every MBA course offers dozens of classes on how to untangle the basics of time management.

Nobody has an easy schedule. Nobody. Not the janitor. Or the CEO. Not even the poet in her ivory tower. But once you learn to dance to the tune that time plays for you, life becomes more bearable and more your own.

Some say that minutes are hard cider, hours champagne, and days become flagons of the finest mead. Just ask those who seem to have nothing to do. An accident? Nope. They have come to grips with their time and they wrestle it to the ground.

If you plan correctly and make time yours — you’ll come out on top. You shouldn’t dream of doing anything less!

Image Credit: Jess Bailey Designs; Pexels; Thank you!

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