Time to admit there’s a better way to stay on top of your appointments.
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, your calendar is jam-packed. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s been managed effectively. In fact, it may merely be a cluttered mess that’s setting you up for failure. But how can you tell? As the founder of Calendar, an app that helps business owners manage their time better, I’ve studied over 200 million calendar meetings and formulated these 11 signs you’re not managing yours effectively.
Has it been brought to your attention that you frequently complain there isn’t enough time to get everything done? Let’s not sugarcoat this — that’s a lie. As author H. Jackson Brown Jr. correctly said, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.”
Instead of whining, do something about it by making time. How you go about this is different for everyone. The first place to start is by conducting a time audit. For example, you may notice that you over- or underestimate how long it takes you to complete a task, or that you’re spending too much time on unproductive activities like checking social media.
I have a friend who is always late. It’s almost his mantra. And while it’s something that we joke about, the fact of the matter is that being tardy is one of the worst habits you can possess both personally and professionally. Lateness is rude and disrespectful and will eventually harm your reputation and fracture relationships. Not to mention that scrambling and rushing from one thing to the next has to be stressful,
As with feeling short on available hours, a quick time audit can help you root out this unfortunate tendency and offer better insight into daily rituals like the commute to and from work. Also, get into the habit of leaving buffers between appointments and meetings and start taking into account travel time so that you can leave punctually.
At minimum, you should at least glance through your calendar every evening and first thing in the morning. That may sound exacting, but preparation will always breed confidence. You’ll begin to be where you have to be on time. The reason I look over my calendar in the a.m. is to make sure everything is still in order. For instance, a conference call with a client could have been rescheduled while I was asleep.
Checking beforehand will save you time and keep you organized. You’ll use extra time slots for preparation for something else. Scheduling and rescheduling are only possible if you use the right tools. Consider scheduling software, such as intelligent calendars, that will keep you on top of your game. Carve out the time to review your calendar every week and month will keep you organized and on top of your intentions.
What do I mean by this? If your calendar isn’t color-coded, then every one of your entries is the same color. That may not sound like a big deal, but you want to know exactly where to look when you open it. Confusion is not going to catapult you toward higher productivity.
How you color code is totally up to you. However, you should be aware of some psychology, e.g. grey represents balance, which makes it an excellent choice for meetings, while blue triggers a relaxation response that’s ideal for less-taxing tasks.
Another option would be to use chakra color-coding. Thinking chakra is a method in which each color is associated with the body’s energy points. Though I don’t personally use this approach often, specific colors do mean things to me, and carrying that over to my calendar keeps me motivated.
You have to be selective when it comes to requests for your time, and the most natural solution is to say “no” more often. I know this can be awkward for some people, and you don’t want to let others down, but your time is your most valuable resource. Accepting every invite or stopping what you’re doing every time to help someone else out will lessen time spent on your own priorities. Only say “yes” when you have the availability or it’s something that you’re genuinely excited for. If not, politely turn down the request.
You just got invited to a friend’s birthday dinner. Without consulting your calendar, you accepted the invite. Then, the day before the party, you received a reminder about a client meeting that night and have to make a last-minute decision that’s going to tick someone off.
Scheduling conflicts are unacceptable. They do nothing except add more stress and anxiety to your life and jeopardize your relationships. Before accepting an invite, make sure that you have nothing else in your calendar. If you have a blank space, then schedule it and block it, and remember those aforementioned buffers between appointments so that you leave plenty of time to get from Point A to B.
Florence Nightingale once said, “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse.” I love that quote. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. If you aren’t getting work done or running late, you aren’t managing your calendar effectively. In short, stop with the excuses. No one wants to hear them. Instead, get your calendar in order and make the most of the time that you do have.
These three terms might seem unrelated at first glance, but each can reveal the roadblocks to your success. For example, do you spend an excessive amount of time choosing between options A and B? Maybe you put off working on a task until the last minute and you obsess over your work being perfect.
Ask yourself if you’re indecisive. Are you putting off what you have to do via procrastination or suffering from perfectionism? Each of these symptoms can throw you’re entire calendar out of whack. You may have set aside two hours to get something done, but it takes you four. As a result, those two extra hours carry over to your next item.
It takes some practice and self-discipline to break these bad habits. Sticking to the allotted time you’ve given to a specific task in your calendar is a start. And once you get started, your brain doesn’t want to leave the work unfinished thanks to the Zeigarnik Effect. Plus, you can always go back and revise your work when you have the availability.
Do you feel that your personal and professional relationships are strained because of your tardiness or unreliability? That may be an indication that you’re not correctly managing your calendar. For example, you may overcommit, leading to scheduling conflicts, or be known for running late because you scheduled back-to-back meetings. When your calendar is in order, you will immediately see a reduction in these inconveniences and begin to demonstrate that you are reliable and respectful of other people’s time.
If you’re still using email as your primary tool to schedule appointments, then it’s time to find a better alternative. As opposed to responding to lengthy email threads, use automated scheduling software that only shows others when you’re available. If a specific time is already booked, then the software won’t allow anyone to schedule an appointment with you.
Finally, a finely tuned calendar will save you from burning out. If you are not organized, it puts your health in jeopardy, making it more likely that you’ll forget your goals, diminishing your work performance. While managing your calendar won’t solve all of these problems, it’s an effective way to alleviate burn out. The main reason you’ll want to work on the goal of a balanced calendar is that by using this tool, all other goals can be realized. You’ll maintain a healthy work-life balance and take breaks when you need them.