The number one reason why so many busy professionals feel stressed, anxious, unmotivated and unhappy about their work is poor time management. In this quick tips episode of the Powerful Marketing Tips podcast, Laura Kukemelk shares the 7 steps to effective calendar management so that you can be more productive! Find the episode transcript below.
Let’s get one thing clear. There is no such thing as time management. We cannot manage time as it will always keep going regardless of our actions. But what we can manage is ourselves… So, essentially time management equals self management!
And as most of us really value things like flexibility and freedom, the idea of restricting or disciplining yourself can be very outputting, I know. But contrary to what you may think, having rules and discipline for yourself will actually lower your stress levels, increase your productivity and therefore your overall happiness!
Because when you put tasks into your calendar and simply follow that, your mind doesn’t have to multitask and frantically remember everything you need to do. You will know that each task will be done in due time, so you’ll be calmer and less anxious. If someone asks when any given task will be done, you can simply check your calendar and tell them exactly when you’ll be working on it.
So, let’s go through the 7 steps to effective calendar management.
- Step number 1 to effectively manage your calendar is to… actually use a CALENDAR. Oh really, right? But you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t use one as they say that it’s all in their head and they don’t need one. So, I had to include this step. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer to use a physical notebook or an online calendar such as Google Calendar. Find something that works for you and stick with it.
- Step number 2 is to effectively plan your calendar every week. Think back to when you were in school. You had certain lessons or classes at a certain time. When the time was up, the bell rang, and you had to move on to the next class. The same principle can be applied to your professional life as well! So, choose a time that you will use to plan your next week’s schedule, for example a Friday evening or a Sunday or even Monday morning.
- Step number 3 is to start filling up your calendar with the most important tasks first. These do not necessarily mean the unexpected tasks that scream at you the loudest or the meetings that other people want to book with you. Start by putting in the strategic activities related to your business’ growth. For example, setting aside 2 hours every Tuesday morning to work on an upcoming product launch or dedicating every Friday afternoon to team building to make sure that your team remains motivated, or investing an hour every Thursday to network. Think what are those strategic activities that have to happen no matter what and put them into your schedule first so you wouldn’t procrastinate!
- Step number 4 to effective calendar management is to stick to the time slots that you’ve scheduled. No matter how tempting it would be to do something else. If you are not able to complete in time, schedule the next available time for finishing up. Or if you do complete, schedule the next time that you’d need to revisit this topic. For example, in one month. This way you will not forget anything important.
- Step number 5 is to group similar tasks into one time slot, so you wouldn’t have to jump from one topic to another. For example, you may dedicate your mornings to meetings and afternoons for planning, creating etc. Or, if you have different clients that you serve, it is wise to do different tasks for one client back to back before switching to another client.
- Step number 6 is to leave room for unexpected things, emails, calls and also breaks and lunch. If you overbook your calendar, you will leave no room for breathing, causing you to start acting out of time again. When possible, underpromise and then overdeliver, not the other way around.
- Step number 7 is to track your time, for example with Toggl Track or any other time tracking app. This pushes you to focus on the task at hand and it also enables you to analyze later how much time you actually spent on the tasks that you planned. If you see that you can complete a task in a shorter amount of time, you can plan better for next week. Or vice versa, if you see that you’d need more time, just schedule more for next time.
It can sound time-consuming and complicated at first, but if you stick with it for a couple of weeks, you’ll already start to see much more clearly where your time goes and also you will see your progress, as you will have evidence on your calendar about what you worked on this week.
I wish you good luck and happy scheduling!