By Mandy L. Manley, Professional Organizer and Owner of Skeleton Key Organizing
When you own your own business, time is so much more than just money. It’s a limited resource that you must spend on big-impact items as well as bookkeeping, education, networking and planning. Whether your business is your primary source of income, or your side hustle, you’ll benefit from having a firm grasp of how to manage your time properly. Let’s take a look at some strategies for effective time management that will help you keep your business on track.
1. Choose a Calendar
It may seem obvious, but choosing a calendar that suits your skill level and technology preferences is the first vital step in becoming a savvy planner. If you never leave home (or even your desk) without your phone, consider a free calendar app like Google calendar. There are many perks to using a digital calendar: they can sync between all your devices, are sharable and many accept voice commands for easy scheduling. However, if you know technology isn’t your strong suit or you’re a more visual person, consider using a paper planner. Choose a planner that fits in your daily carry bag, and make sure you have a pen or pencil on hand at all times. Be careful if you choose a hybrid method; you’ll need to make sure you record all appointments in both places so you don’t accidentally overbook!
2. Schedule Your Priorities
A useful calendar is a reflection of your priorities. Take a look at the things that matter most to you, and the actions you know will help grow your business. Rank them in order of importance and impact and make sure to schedule these items to reoccur as often as you need to keep your business moving forward. Remember that success doesn’t happen overnight; it’s the result of diligence and repetition over weeks, months and years. Take the time to list out your priorities, goals and repeatable action items; we’ll use them in step two!
3. Block Your Time
Ready to manage your calendar like a pro? Take a note from the pages of successful CEOs and busy solopreneurs and implement the strategy of time blocking. Whether your calendar is digital or analog, block out appointments to do the work from the priorities you listed above. For example, if you know that you will gain new customers by talking to 5 new people each week, then block these outreach opportunities on your calendar as appointments. You can even color-code them so you get a better visual representation of how you’re spending your time. Block out each week until you’ve assigned each hour a task (don’t forget to schedule time for walks, shake breaks and fun!). Bottom line: Make sure that you’re scheduling time to do what matters most to you!
4. Schedule Meetings Like a Pro
Now that you’ve put your calendar to work for you, it’s time to integrate other people into the effort! No one is an island, and you’ll need to make sure you’re available to schedule appointments for sales, coaching and talking to your network. Make it easy for everyone to see when you’re free by using a digital assistant like Calendly. This efficient service means you can say goodbye to back-and-forth emails. Simply share a link to the appointment times you’ve chosen, and let others book these meetings with you. You can share a conference line and set reminders. Once they’ve booked an appointment, they can reschedule and get dial-in information directly through Calendly. Anyone else wishing to book time with you will only see what’s available! Best of all; the basic plan is totally free!
Need to get a larger group together? Sending dozens of emails to check everyone’s availability is inefficient, so try Doodle.com. This tool lets you load in a series of potential meeting times, and invitees vote on what works for them. Doodle will tabulate the results and let you know when everyone is free to meet! Hello, efficiency!
5. Plan a Review Day
The final step for managing your time well is to schedule a review day. Every week, you should review what’s coming up in the next few days. Make sure you’ve got the resources you need and send reminders before you’re walking out the door to your next appointment. By staying on top of things, others will learn that you’re on top of things and are reliable (two very good qualities for an entrepreneur to have!). Take a look at what’s coming in the next few weeks and months, and make sure your larger goals are broken down into action items. When these action items are blocked as appointments on your calendar, you’ll make swift progress toward your goals and gain traction in your business.
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got a lot to get done each day. By using the strategies above, you can put your time and calendar to work for you. Say goodbye to feeling like you don’t know what you should be doing, worrying that you won’t get it all done, and wasting time on things that don’t really matter. Get intentional about how you spend your time and savvy with your scheduling to truly master your business and have more time for the things that matter most.