Using scheduling software is almost guaranteed to improve your time management. However, not everyone is using this technology to its full potential. It’s like buying a new Ferrari and only ever driving it five miles under the speed limit.
To unlock the top speed of a sports car, you need to know what its engine can do. If you’re interested in little more than the car’s paint job and leather seats, you’re only getting surface-level value. The same goes for scheduling software. Familiarizing yourself with its features and how to maximize them will have your productivity going from 0 to 60 in record time.
There’s a thrill to living in the moment, but that’s hardly a productive lifestyle. If you plan to use your time to the utmost advantage, you need to plan ahead. Ask any industry mogul or successful entrepreneur, and you’ll be impressed by how much planning goes into their everyday life.
You should tackle planning on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, which can be accomplished by changing the view of your scheduling software of choice. With daily planning, you can structure your workday so that your most challenging tasks are scheduled during your peak productivity hours. Weekly planning enables you to confirm all your scheduled meetings and take note of upcoming deadlines. With monthly planning, you can review your personal KPIs using data tracked by your scheduling software and make adjustments to plan for an even more productive month ahead.
In addition to personal planning, your scheduling software is key to coordinating well with others. Leading a team, for example, will require the balancing of a lot of different roles, tasks and deadlines. A content manager can look at scheduling software and see that a new blog post is due tomorrow morning by writer X, followed by a revision from an in-house editor by the end of the work day. The manager and the rest of the team will know exactly whom to talk to at every stage of the project, keeping confusion and miscommunication to a minimum.
Balance Your Personal and Professional Life
As important as your career might be, nothing should come before your family and yourself. In fact, a Deloitte study showed that companies that promote work-life balance saw twice the productivity from their employees. Your scheduling software will be put to best use when it promotes work-life balance.
Use your scheduling software to prioritize family time. Plan dates with your spouse and add your kids’ sporting events and dance recitals to your online calendar. These events should be non-negotiable, and you can make sure you cement them into your schedule by using the same software you use for organizing your business.
Work-life balance is much easier to achieve when you leave work at work. To make this happen, use scheduling tactics that help you unlock your full productivity while on the clock. One approach is the Pomodoro technique, where you schedule your work into small blocks of time dedicated to a single task with short breaks in between. Using this scheduling method will enable you to increase your focus throughout the day and finish more tasks in the same amount of time, leaving less work to take home.
Geek Out With Color Coding
A personalized color-coding system allows you to decipher your schedule with just a quick glance. Each of the activities in your schedule can be designated its own color. For example, red can be used to indicate client meetings that you just can’t miss. Yellow can be devoted to longer-range tasks, such as strategizing or reporting. Blue can be used for family time or other personal responsibilities and so forth. The more quickly you can identify your scheduling priorities, the faster you can start completing tasks.
Once you get used to your color code, one look at your daily schedule will tell you where you need to be and at what time. A flash of red will notify you of a board meeting coming up that you need to prepare for. A trace of blue at the end of your schedule will remind you that you can’t stay late at the office tonight, regardless of the event specifics. Research shows that the use of visual cues can help viewers grasp needed information more efficiently, so go ahead and colorful.
Creating an event in your schedule isn’t always enough. You’re not taking advantage of everything scheduling software has to offer if you’re not setting reminders to go along with important events. Taking a few seconds to set up reminders for each meeting or appointment can be the safety net you need to ensure your schedule runs smoothly.
For starters, the reminders you set will act as a precaution in case your memory fails you or you lose track of paper notes. Nothing is worse than missing an important meeting or leaving the wrong impression by showing up late. Leverage your scheduling software to ensure that’s never a concern.
Another purpose of reminders is to help you prepare for upcoming events. A reminder set half an hour before an important presentation gives you a final opportunity to compose yourself and make sure you have all your materials ready.
Check In With Others
There’s nothing productive about preparing for and going to a meeting where the other person doesn’t show. Effective scheduling requires both parties to be in sync. Even if you do everything right, there’s always a chance that someone who committed to a meeting will arrive late or fail to show at all. All your planning and organizing efforts will have gone to waste.
You can avoid this by sending reminders to those you have made plans with in advance. Most scheduling software programs allow you to set up reminder messages to send to others.
To maximize your productivity, you can craft the perfect reminder once and use it for all engagements thereafter. You won’t have to worry about peers or clients missing meetings anymore, and you won’t have to write a custom email each time. You can also share a meeting agenda or scheduling link to enhance collaboration between you and your counterpart.
It’s time to stop using your scheduling software only for the bare minimum. This Swiss Army knife of software tools has an array of helpful features that you should be using to increase your productivity. To make the most of your precious time, get started today.