Time is money, and for no one is that more true than time starved entrepreneurs. Creating and maintaining an effective time management diary can be the difference between success and failure. As an entrepreneur, from the moment you step out of bed, how you spend your time will dictate how much money you make. It takes excellent organisational skills, but also creativity and intuition.
Whether you are running your own time management diary, or you have an assistant to help you, this guide will take you through everything you need to consider to ensure you are getting the most out of every day.
The first thing to ascertain is how you work best. Are you more creative in the morning or the afternoon? This may help you decide what time you need to pencil out of your busy diary to work on more creative tasks such as blog writing and planning. You can then be very specific about when you book meetings, ensuring your time is used effectively, as well as efficiently.
Use the “all day” appointment function to remind yourself about important events, like anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, conferences and other important activities that need to be taken into consideration, but don’t require a specific action. Take note of how this displays on different devices as different programmes use different formats, and if you cannot schedule other appointments alongside an all day appointment it will quickly become very disorganised. For those using Outlook diary management software this technique works well.
Make use of the inbuilt organisation features to help you run an effective time management diary, such as categories and colour coding to help you file things neatly. The aim is that you can see what you are doing any given day at a glance, so select a different colour or category for all the types of events that commonly occur, including client meetings, meetings with colleagues, dentist appointments and time to write, read and respond to emails.
For clients and associates who you have a long-term relationship with, consider booking recurring meetings. This works particularly well with direct reports and colleagues that you will want regular contact with. Manage these closely however. If you find that you are regularly cancelling or rescheduling then you have to consider whether a recurring appointment is really the best use of your time.
You will often find that you have to book tentative appointments with busy clients. It is absolutely fine to pencil out space in your diary for these important meetings, but remember to also setup an alert to remind yourself to confirm the appointment closer to the time, and then free up the time if the appointment is not possible.
When business appointment setting, think carefully about what else is going on that day, and even the day before and after. If you are likely to need a day to prepare for the meeting, or will need to draft a proposal straight after the meeting, you will have to think much more holistically about when you schedule that appointment. Likewise, if you have a meeting that could well overrun, then allow more time than you would otherwise. There’s nothing more off-putting than a meeting in which one of you is clock-watching.
If you have an important deadline, you will also want to consider booking out some time the day before to ensure you can work on the project uninterrupted. Whilst multi-tasking is a great time-saver on occasion, being able to focus on one thing clearly is often much more productive, so block out time for the most important items in your schedule.
Consider business travel planning when booking your appointments. It’s all well and good squeezing five meetings into one day because you are travelling into London and you want to make the most of it, but have you actually checked how long it will take you to get from one place to the next? Bear in mind that you will also have to factor in walking times, the possibility of getting lost and the chance of delays – all the more important for those high value appointments that you absolutely cannot arrive late for.
Ensure every appointment you make has a clear agenda. Turning up to an appointment without an agreed agenda can and will lead to time being wasted.
To maximise the effectiveness of your virtual diary, make sure you include any supplementary information you may need at the time of entry. At a minimum this should include date, time, location, attendees, agenda and the type of meeting (online, face-to-face, telephone etc.).
In addition, every appointment should have an attachment with any supporting documentation you may need. This could simply be a note on the agreed agenda, memos of previous communication or a presentation that you intend to give at the meeting. For those with a very busy diary, you can do this task once per month, setting up a file for every day of the coming month, with all the supporting documentation you will require.
Consider delegating to a personal or virtual assistant who could create a virtual diary for you that synchronises with your Outlook diary management system. Running an effective time management diary takes time, patience, diplomacy and intuition – all things that personal assistants are highly skilled in. A virtual diary like Google Calendar will allow your PA to view multiple clients contact details, email appointments to your business partners, add notes, link to Google Maps, attach documents and set alarms, all on one user friendly system.
In addition to creating a virtual diary, there are a multitude of other tasks to outsource to a virtual assistant that will free up time for more productive activities. In addition to just booking the meeting they can book a suitable venue, book a table for lunch, order travel tickets, book a hotel room, confirm the appointment a few days before, and reschedule if it gets cancelled. Leaving you with more time to do what your do best – run your business!
Hopefully you found this blog on running an effective time management diary useful. If you’re a busy entrepreneur who thinks they might benefit from our online diary management services or would like to know more about how we could save you time with our other online pa services then call us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation.