6 Tips to Take Control of Your Business Calendar
If you struggle to take control of your business calendar, it’s not because it has taken on a life of its own. It’s because other people are controlling your schedule for you.
It’s the calendar hijackers that you need to get control of, and here are six ways to do just that.
#1: Identify the Calendar Hijackers Within Your Organisation…
…and help them develop their skills, so they become less reliant on you. Of course, this only really applies if you are in a leadership role. If so, developing your reports to accept more autonomy is beneficial for them as well as for you and your business calendar control.
#2: Utilise Technology…
…more for your meetings and communications. Perhaps it’s possible that some of those meetings which involve traveling, especially flying, can be held remotely instead, using tools such as or similar conferencing software.
#3: Hire a Virtual Assistant...
There is another way to make use of modern technology to take control of your calendar. A virtual assistant, working remotely and using online tools, will be a lot less expensive than hiring personal help to work inside your organization. An added benefit is that in addition to taking on some of those tiresome, but necessary administration tasks which eat your time, he or she can take charge of your business calendar too.
The important thing here is that while you won’t technically be taking back control of your calendar you’ll be delegating it to someone who fills it only on your behalf, with no agenda of her own.
Since we first published this brief article a few years ago, the virtual assistant industry has snowballed, so if you are a solopreneur or you run a small business, the time-saving opportunities associated with hiring a VA have multiplied.
#4: Delegate Some of Your Appointments
You can still engage a virtual assistant to manage your calendar and schedule on your behalf and to pick up some of those admin tasks that tend to suck your time away, but you might also think about delegating some more challenging, perhaps even customer-facing, duties if you choose a VA with the right skill set.
For example, if yours is one of those businesses that involves setting appointments to speak with new customers, clients, or prospects, a VA with strong communication skills could perform initial screening calls for you, and set follow-up appointments for those that need your attention.
That process alone could save you many hours that you would otherwise spend on the phone or in online meetings—and provide you with many more gaps in your business calendar.
#5: Restrict Your Meetings to One Fixed Day per Week
When the meetings you attend are scattered throughout the week, in-between all your other calendar commitments, your momentum is continually interrupted. For one thing, there is the continual mindset shifting required when you switch from solo work to some form of team collaboration and back again.
If this is an issue in your business, why not try blocking out one day (or even two, if necessary) per week for meetings. Make it the same day every week, and tell your team that it will be the only day on which you will lead or join meetings.
This approach to meetings can be a significant help in regaining control of your calendar. Because all your meetings are on the same day(s), you will not need to switch “modes” all the time.
On your non-meeting days, you will know you can knuckle down to some of that work that requires continuous concentration. That work will get done faster, and you should find you have more time on your hands and slots in your calendar—but don’t start filling them up with meetings outside of your assigned “meeting days”.
#6: Change Your Approach to Deadlines
Is your calendar full of deadline dates for projects and tasks? Stop and ask yourself how many of them are genuinely critical. In today’s fast-paced business world, it seems like everything must meet a deadline, but are you sure that’s the case?
One way to regain some calendar control is to rethink the way you schedule tasks. For instance, you could try:
- Giving yourself more time to complete tasks: So instead of saying you will have something done in two days, say you will have it done in five days. If you complete the assignment early, it’s a bonus.
- Instead of promising a set deadline for a project or complex set of tasks, promise only to provide regular status reports (once a week, or once every two weeks)
The crucial thing to remember with this approach is that the above are suggestions relate only to how you visibly schedule the tasks in your calendar.
Be sure to have milestones and deadlines in mind, or even written down, but don’t share them with the stakeholders. It might not be possible for all your tasks, but if you can schedule some of your activities this way, it will help you regain a degree of control over your business calendar.
Stop Being a Slave to Your Business Calendar
As long as you let your business calendar control you, your valuable time will continue to be used in meeting the needs of others—at your own expense. That’s no way to fulfill your professional potential.
Perhaps you can put one or more of the tips in this article to use. Each one offers advantages for your organization, through the development of staff, increases in your productivity, or savings in cost, while also freeing you to derive more value from your time and effort.
You’ll find many more productivity secrets and business-management insights here on the Virtual Done Well blog, and also on our updated and improved YouTube channel, to which we are now adding a new video every week. Don’t forget to stop by and take a look.
Editor’s Note: We first published this post in September 2015 under the title “3 Tips to Take Control of Your Business Calendar.” It has since been revamped and expanded with some extra tips to increase informative value. The most recent updates were made on April 2019.
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