Managing time is one of the areas that business owners highlight most often as a problem. It’s not unusual to feel like you’re constantly running out of time and not able to dedicate the hours you need to the things that matter – both inside and outside your business. Efficient diary organisation can help you to improve time management skills, freeing up valuable space in your week for important tasks, and ensuring that you keep a positive work-life balance.
What is effective diary management?
Managing your time well is about far more than just putting in appointments and meetings; it is about scheduling time for a range of tasks so that your working life is organised. This includes time for your own personal development, as well as making time for your staff, for strategy and planning and for business development. Most importantly, it is also about ensuring that there is free time – space – in your diary so that you have flexibility as well as pre-arranged time. Many businesses are turning to diary management software and virtual diary options, which ensure that the diary is always up-to-date and synchronised across all your devices.
So, what should an entrepreneur diary cover?
Your diary should reflect the way you approach your business. You may have regular meetings with staff, professional advisers, consultants or investors. You may have networking events or trade meetings. You chair or might be on the committee of an organisation and need to put time aside for work there.
You should also make time to work on the strategy for and direction of your business. This is particularly important for businesses of any size, because there is a constant need to refine your proposition, identify your key markets and decide how to exploit them. Whether you are working with a personal mentor or with your team, time spent concentrating on these issues without distraction is valuable.
And of course your diary must cover your day-to-day appointments: internal and external meetings and consultations that help to keep your business running.
Just managing all these elements of your diary management can take up valuable time, which is why business owners are increasingly turning to a virtual diary assistant and dedicated diary software.
Adopting virtual diary management
Changing from managing your own diary to having someone take the task on for you is a simple, but transformative change for any entrepreneur. Time management helps to free up the time you need to work on your business and, when it’s handled in close collaboration with an efficient administrator, can help you to have confidence that your diary is well-planned and well-run – leaving you to get on with your day-to-day tasks.
What’s more, it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are highly functional calendar apps that are free and synchronise not only across devices but across applications, meaning that you can create an event in one piece of software and it will automatically update all the calendars you use. Of course, you might also choose to pay for an app, giving you access to additional features that work for you.
Some of these apps you will have heard of and some are less well-known, so it’s worth taking the time to look at which might work best for you.
For many people, using the calendar that is connected to the existing systems you use is the default option. These include:
Google Calendar – this is completely free if you are a Google user, and is often recommended as one of the best calendar options. You can create several different calendar types, use the app or the desktop version and sync across your devices. It also integrates with all other applications, so it’s a really useful tool. Of course, you need to have a Google account to access it, but that’s easy to do, and gives you a range of benefits.
Apple Calendar – like Google, this calendar is only available to Apple users, but if this is the default system for you, your team or your family, it’s a great, free option. You can integrate it with other iOS apps, and manage multiple accounts in a single calendar. And of course, integration with Apple maps means you an also get a heads up on directions and journey times for your appointments.
Microsoft Outlook Calendar – automatically available to anyone using Outlook on Microsoft, this is one of the most widely-used calendars in the world. It can be used on both iOS and Android devices, and allows you to create events, group schedules and organise meetings. You can also use it to send meeting requests for Teams meetings, which makes it an intuitive choice for many business users.
nTask – we’ve heard lots of great things about this app. It has great functionality and usability and is compatible with all devices and operating systems. It’s easy to set up and easy to understand, and is great for productivity because it allows you to manage tasks, projects, meetings and time tracking. It often comes near the top – or at the top – of the best calendar lists, so it’s definitely worth investigating. There’s a free option, and a premium option which is just $3 per month.
Fantastical – this is another calendar app with a great reputation in the market. It’s great design features make it a cool app to use – but it’s also very functional. At present, it’s only available to iOS and Mac users, and there isn’t a free option, but it gets rave reviews, so it’s worth checking out.
Calendly – you’ve probably booked an appointment with someone by Calendly already. This app was designed to help business people schedule meetings online quickly and easily. You can simply put a Calendly link on your email signature or on your website and with just a single click, your customer can book an appointment. You can use this as an individual or across your team – there’s a free option for individual users, and a subscription offer for those with more users
How can a virtual assistant help?
Choosing to outsource diary management may seem like a big step, but you’ll quickly benefit from having someone manage your day-to-day diary. Your assistant will take on all the tasks that you really don’t have time to do yourself – from arranging conference calls to putting time in for your home life activities. You will come to rely on your diary manager to ensure that you know where you need to be and what you need to do – leaving you free to concentrate on the content of the appointment rather than the mechanics of making it. A virtual assistant diary management service will:
- Book appointments and schedule meetings
- Co-ordinate business meeting planning so appointments are convenient.
- Confirm appointments ahead of time, so you don’t waste time on cancelled or re-arranged meetings
- Amend or re-book meetings on your behalf
- Organise complex conference calls or video calls, dealing with multiple parties and ensuring you have the appropriate codes and numbers to access the meeting.
- Control online diary management so your schedule is completely up to date and synchronised across all your devices
- Tag or code events so that you know whether they are work, home, holiday or consultancy
- Manage recurring meeting appointments
- Act as a to do list manager for reminders and notes on papers or information you may need
- Highlight deadlines and ensure there is time for you to meet them
It’s easy to see how outsourcing this part of your administrative role can not only give you hours of extra time during the week, but help to improve time management skills and general planning. This can give you the confidence you need to concentrate on your business, whilst working closely with your assistant to make sure you stay on track.
We hope you have found this blog useful – particularly if you are thinking about how best to manage your time. If you need help with diary management or would like to know more about our other virtual business assistant services feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation.”