My friend Rich Grof says, “you cannot manage time”; this is true. Time happens whether we try to manage it or not. The point of his statement is that we have to manage our actions and responsibilities to fit in the time we have. Today I want to talk about the tools you need to use to ensure you are managing your activities effectively.
After the first few events and meetings have been set your ability to manage where you are to be, what time is already blocked off, when you are available and your availability to manage a project will be diminished. The more you do in your business the less ability you will have to keep track of where you are supposed to be. I tell people, “if it is not in my calendar it does not exist”.
Don’t feel you have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get a functional calendar, because you don’t, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a paid product. Let’s have a quick look at what you might like to use.
The old reliable, or unreliable some might say is Outlook. This Microsoft product is an email client with a calendar and its simplicity will help you stay on time. The key is that you have to make sure you add your appointments, events, meetings and blocked time to the calendar in one place so you know where you are supposed to be at all times. There are also third-party applications to help you sync this to your smartphone.
If you are also using a physical calendar and Outlook, your challenge will be manually syncing the two calendars. If you have missed 2 or more appointments then I suggest you abandon the two calendar system.
In The Cloud
One of the best calendar options online is Google Calendar. Because it is a Google product it integrates with so many other Google products that you are probably currently using, like Gmail. It also functions seamlessly with your Android smartphone. Other products, like proprietary scheduling applications (e.g. TimeTrade) will sync online and show up in your calendar on your phone and on your browser from wherever you are. This is the future of scheduling and it is simple and inexpensive.
Have you ever done this before? You tell two people your available time, but you don’t want to block several days, so there is some overlap and they both pick the same time OR you forget to remove blocked time that someone does not book with you? Double booking or blocking time for non-excitant meetings is a waste of your time.
Missing meetings is not a great way to build confidence in your abilities so finding a way to book your time without overlap is key. Several of the people I connect with use TimeTrader (www.timedriver.com). I’m sure there are several of these types of tools online that you can take advantage of. These programs will usually sync with your Outlook or Google calendar so you can manage the inviting of people and the booking of meetings from one place.
This month I decided that this would work well for my business so I signed up for a free trial to test it out. So far, so good and at $49 per year it is a really affordable option.
Being able to quickly pull-up past information that is associated with an event or a person can also help you be more effective in your meetings. If you want to look back at a past conversation or be able to review documents and past emails with a client while you are in a meeting then you will want a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution.
At the high end of price is the CRM which not only manages your calendar but also the connections to your clients. For instant, it will allow you to create accounts for clients that you are working with and pull together all the emails from all the people at that company as a history. It can keep track of your sales process, link clients to meetings, link documents to clients or jobs, keep track of conversations, etc. This is a very powerful tool and will take some time to implement the process of using it effectively. This tool can also range from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars depending on how many people in your company will need access.
I use Microsoft Business Contact Manager, which came free with Windows Professional and integrates with Outlook. I love the functionality but it is not going to be easy to bring it into The Cloud. It really is a desktop application.
You don’t have to use the same tools I am using, but you do have to use something. Don’t ‘wing’ any part of your business; plan, implement, and manage everything, including your time.
What is your favourite way to manage your calendar activities? Do you have any favourite tools?
Share your tips below.