Guest post from the team at Cogsworth
You have limited time on this earth. Using it wisely means not wasting time on scheduling or in wasteful meetings. Think about these tips:
Create separate calendars
Separate calendars for work and home are a good idea, you can also get your partner to share their calendar with you, and you with them. Make sure you have selected them all in your Google Calendar view so you can view them simultaneously.
Blocking out time should be your top priority
Have something on your mind? Does someone tentatively want to talk to you about something? Block out time in your calendar. This is because the more you put it off, the busier you are going to get and probably forget to make the entry altogether. If you are using a scheduling tool like Cogsworth, its two-way sync functionality will ensure that your customer-facing booking page is instantly updated also. Google calendar makes adding quick events super easy with the quick modal.
Use meeting scheduling tools
There are several meeting scheduling tools that will help manage your customer bookings for you. All you need to do is prioritize 15 min to set them up, create a public booking page, sync with your personal calendars, embed on your site or in your email signature and you are away!
Review your calendar every Sunday
Monday is hectic for everyone and it is easy to get caught up in executing your schedule rather than sticking to it or even reprioritizing it. Sunday is a good day to take a bird’s eye view of your upcoming week and decide if your schedule is most suited to achieving your business and personal goals.
IMPORTANT: Don’t be afraid of canceling or rescheduling meetings. Value your own time, as others may not.
Batch similar activities together
Set a particular time in a day for responding to emails and do not indulge in anything else during that time. This will also get the work done faster. Do you have direct report meetings? A specific day of the week is great to get those done. Also, do not under-estimate walking or driving meetings where you can get a multi-tasking batch efficiency going – like in The West Wing!
A personal or virtual assistant is a great buffer between you and the outside world. Let them create hurdles of qualification for outsiders to get to you. Create a methodology and even a form of appraising the dollar value of prospective meetings.
Delegate & trust
Ask yourself, do you really need to be in that meeting? Are you adding value? Can someone else add as much value to that meeting? If so, the answer is clear – empower them to take the meeting.
All calendar systems can be modified to send you notifications minutes, hours or even days before meetings. Heed these to: prepare yourself for the next meeting, go over notes, wrap up your current work and meetings, and go in with a fresh head. If the meeting is with customers, set up SMS and email reminders for both you and them to ensure no no-shows.
Back-to-back appointments are a big no
Running between meetings means that your mental buffer is full. This means you are not doing any favors to the people you just met with or the people you are about to meet with. Often meetings have action points, these need to be recorded, prioritized and actioned. Can you do that if you are sprinting to the next meeting?
Updates can be 5-10 min stand-ups
Get your team and customers into the habit of express stand-up meetings, where everyone is standing and can give their update in under 60 seconds. Take any follow-ups or questions offline.
Practice optimization of meetings
Every meeting needs an agenda with clear action points. Aim to resolve an action point every 10 min, don’t get carried into rabbit holes and try not to hold meetings for more than 60 minutes. Accounting for a 5 min warm up and 5 min summary, this gives you 5 action points to cover.
PRO TIP: Ask meeting attendees to rate the meeting and give feedback on how to improve it for next time
BONUS TIP 2:
Block out a day a week for yourself
Keeping one day off is very important. Don’t compromise on that day no matter what. This is free-thinking time, time to catch-up and high execution time. Get into a zone, build a flow and cross those pesky items of your todo list.