Top Five Schedule Management Tips
Don’t Miss That Next Meeting: Learn the Skills to Manage Your Schedule
Virtual meetings have made it possible attend meetings being held around the world. So much so that you could find yourself booked every hour of the day or booked for multiple meetings in the same hour. If you’ve found yourself trying to navigate leaving one meeting that’s run long to attend another that’s just getting started keep reading for our top five tips to better manage your schedule.
Book It or It Doesn’t Exist
Having multiple calendars for your personal and professional life can quickly overwhelm and confuse you. Decide on a single point of reference to track all events in your life and then commit to adding all events to the calendar as soon as they’re confirmed. Whenever an event or meeting is proposed, check your calendar, and only agree if you have time both before and after to show up to the meeting on time and leave before another meeting is going to start. 15 minutes of transition time is usually sufficient to grab a drink, stretch your legs, and prepare for the next meeting.
Pencil It In
Holding dates can be a helpful strategy when multiple committees or groups that you work with are trying to schedule you for a meeting. Just remember to delete the other holds when you finally book the meeting. An easy way to do this is to label each with a keyword such as ‘HOLD-XXMtg’ and then listing the other hold dates in the description of the meeting. When you finally book, review the description for the list of other days/times and delete them from your calendar. There are also several software programs that will do this for you. If using a paper calendar, try using post-it notes which can be easily removed once the meeting is scheduled.
Identifying which meetings are ‘must attend’ and which would be ‘nice to be at’ is an easy way of prioritizing which meetings can be cancelled or postponed when you need to adjust your schedule. If you use color coding to identify the type of event such as webinars, team meetings, calls, and personal appointments, try adding keywords to the meeting headings such as High Priority (HP) or Low Priority (LP). If using paper, you can also highlight and use different colored pens.
Book Time to Work
It can be easy to fill your calendar with meetings, calls, and other events and find yourself scrambling to fit in a few hours of work between each. If a project needs to be completed, you might find yourself staying up late to complete the work and regretting the time spent in meetings. To prevent this, book time on your calendar to do assigned tasks. When booking work time, consider upcoming projects, when each step needs to be completed, the amount of time you estimate it will take, and book sufficient time to complete each task. By adding it to your calendar, you’ll quickly see that you have an important project that takes priority and will more easily be able to turn down meeting requests. Also, if you share your calendar with your team, they’ll also see you’re busy and won’t try to book time with you.
Establish Your Work Hours
Clearly label in your calendar which times are considered ‘work hours’ and which are personal hours. If you know you need to attend a late meeting, move the start time of your work hours to match. This will help you better manage the balance between your personal and professional commitments. If you take a break for lunch or want to spend your breaks walking outside, book the time in your calendar. If you use an electronica calendar, you have the added benefit of the calendar reminding you to go outside for some fresh air and it will prevent you from booking a meeting during this time.
With a fast-paced schedule, it can seem overwhelming to keep track of what meeting is next and what you’re trying to accomplish. The above tips will help you gain control and better manage your time, relieving stress and helping you feel confident that you’re on top of your work and to do items.