Scheduling your day increases your productivity, allows you to define and organise your day — by getting everything done. Diary management, whether it is for your personal or professional life, can be an extremely time-consuming process. From experience, setting boundaries is the key to keeping your calendar under control.
Below are a few of my diary management tips and tricks that I hope will make your life a little easier:
- Use recurrent meetings. If you have a weekly, fortnightly or monthly meeting, or a yearly occurrence, Outlook will automatically update this for you without you having to go in and enter each individual appointment. Simply use the recurrence button from within the appointment.
- Tentative meeting requests. Often you will be asked to find time for a meeting that may or may not happen. It is well worth putting a ‘holding’ meeting in your diary but do ensure you set yourself a reminder to confirm the meeting or delete it from your calendar.
- Confirming appointments. Appointments can be unpredictable. But there is one thing that helps alleviate the majority of the problems with booking and maintaining an appointment schedule: appointment confirmations. Asking your clients to confirm their set appointment or reschedule for a more convenient time — can dramatically reduce no-shows and late arrivals.
- “All day appointments”. 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.
- Categories and colour coding. Before you start randomly assigning colours to events or tasks on your calendar — first realize that different colours represent different things to our brains. By colour coding and categorising your calendars, you’re not making any huge changes to your calendaring process. You won’t need to explain new tools or systems; you’re just making the calendars you already use easier to view and understand.
- Schedule time for tasks. It is very easy for diaries to become crammed with meetings, you should always allow yourself time to get other tasks done. Allowing time between tasks means that if you do get the time frame wrong, you can adjust accordingly.
- Create a meetings reference folder. This is my favourite tool for keeping on top of supporting documents for meetings. Create a folder designated for meetings. I recommend that you create subfolders based on year, and then one folder per meeting as a third folder layer. If you want to structure meetings by date, remember to name the folder by year_month_date. Alternatively, you can name the meetings “Meeting 1, Meeting 2”.
- Trust. Without trust, delegating your diary management to an assistant won’t work. It can be daunting to trust someone with such a precious part of your business, the time in front of your clients, however, for any experienced executive/virtual assistant, this is second nature.
- Include travel time. By scheduling ‘travel time’ into your diary you will always know where you are supposed to be and how to get there. If the meeting is taking place thirty minutes away from the office, allow for this travelling time by scheduling it into your diary. Similarly, if flights or trains have been booked, all the timing and supporting confirmations can be added directly to the calendar entry.
- Conduct a weekly review. This is a principle from David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done,” and the concept goes as follows: “From a practical standpoint, here is the three-part drill that [makes up the Weekly Review]: get clear, get current, and get creative. Getting clear will ensure all your collected stuff is processed. Getting current will ensure that all your orienting “maps” or lists are reviewed and up to date. The creative part happens to some degree automatically, as you get clear and current.”
Get more done by outsourcing your diary management to a virtual assistant.
One of the best ways to manage complex diaries – either individual ones or across teams – is to put the process in the hands of a neutral third party. Busy schedules and effective diary management can take up at least a third of your day. Effective diary management means you should always be able to concentrate on the tasks that will have the biggest impact on your business.
Our diary management service is completely tailored to your company’s specific requirements. To explore our professional skills, insights and experience, contact us today.