Have you ever missed a deadline? Failed to show up for an appointment? Paid a late fee? If so, your calendar – or lack of it – is likely to blame.
Some people resist using a calendar, thinking it’s too difficult to manage, won’t be available when and where they need it, or that it will make them inflexible. The truth is, setting up a calendar and using it can be almost completely automated, and when you take the time to schedule your work, you’ll actually find more freedom in your day, not less. Here are a few calendar management strategies that can work for you.
Share Calendars to Avoid Back-and-Forth Scheduling Conversations
How many emails does it take to schedule an interview or coaching session? For most people, it requires at least three. One to propose a time, another to say why that won’t work and to suggest others, and a final confirming email. What a waste!
Instead, by using a shared calendar or appointment system such as VCita, Acuity or Calendly, you can schedule meetings and appointments in one click. Your client will see exactly what times are available, and be able to pick the one that works for her schedule as well.
You can achieve a similar system within your family by sharing a Google calendar. Need to schedule a dentist appointment for your son? One quick check of the calendar lets you know your daughter has a choir performance that day – better choose a different day for that cleaning.
The Hard Landscape
David Allen of Getting Things Done recommends using your calendar only for those things that must be done on a specific day. In other words, your calendar is not your to-do list, it’s a schedule of appointments. By only scheduling that which must be completed, such as doctor appointments and travel, you leave the rest of your days open for a more fluid lifestyle, while still completing tasks on time.
Long-Term Planning with a Marketing Calendar
Day-to-day appointments and managing deadlines is great, but smart entrepreneurs also use their calendar for long-term planning. Product launches, marketing schedules, joint venture plans and more are all wisely written on a calendar. That allows you to easily see what’s coming up and to match your own products and promotions with those of others, for even greater reach.
Your marketing calendar can include everything from keywords to target for PPC campaigns to blog post ideas to products you’d like to create. Your calendar doesn’t have to be carved in stone, though. Be sure you leave room for on-the-fly promotions and last-minute opportunities as well.
Let Someone Else Do It
Finally, if you find yourself resisting using a calendar, outsource it! Your VA will most likely handle your calendar with more efficiency than you do, because she won’t be so easily distracted by other things going on in your life. Not only that, but with someone else managing your calendar, you’ll have more time for actually getting stuff done.