It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
This week I asked our panel of experts…
“How do you manage your calendar (both business and personal)?
Special software, outsourcing, or plain old paper and pen?”
I think you'll find the responses interesting.
Connie Ragen Green of Affiliate Marketing Case Studies says:
I manage my personal and business calendar two ways – by using the calendar feature on my iPhone and by using a desk calendar in both of my home offices. This has been the easiest way for me to see what I have coming up, as well as what I've done in the past.
I also use something I call rocks, pebbles, and sand that you may be familiar with. For each month I write in the plans I have with my family and close friends, as well as personal appointments and commitments. These are my rocks. I would almost never change any of these. Next comes my business obligations and my charity and volunteer time, which are my pebbles. These are very important to me, but not nearly as important as my rocks. Everything else is sand. I've done this for almost eight years and it helps me to keep my life and my business in perspective when it comes to what is truly important to me.
Kevin Riley of Maximize Your E-Mail Marketing Profits In 2013 says:
I keep a wall calendar on the wall of my office. I find that writing things down there keeps me much better organized than some app (esp. since I have 5 computers and am always switching where I am working).
I also print out a PDF ToDo list that I created years ago, and I write down important tasks to accomplish the next day.
The wall calendar is my general (long term) planner, and the ToDo list is my specific (short term) planner.
Kelly McCausey of Solo Smarts Podcast says:
I operate well on the theory that ‘it doesn't get done if it isn't on my calendar' so my calendar is part appointment schedule and part serious to do list.
When something needs to get done this week, it gets a spot on my calendar. By actually putting tasks on the calendar, I have to estimate the amount of time needed and not overbook myself. This practice is called ‘time chunking' and it's a huge part of my ability to focus and get things done.
I'm a Google Calendar fan all the way. It's easy to use and plugs in with other tools I'm taking advantage of, like TimeTrade. TimeTrade is a web based appointment booking tool that gives my coaching clients and podcast guests the freedom to book their own meetings with me. TimeTrade does cost money, but it has actually saved me a few thousand in Virtual Assistant hours in the last year so I'll be paying the annual fee with a smile on my face.
Tiffany Dow of Squidoo Quick Commissions Guide says:
I love offline calendars. I started managing mine separately, since one calendar never seemed to have enough room for everything in my life.
I found a free PDF monthly calendar download site here: http://www.pdfcalendar.com/monthly.
I print out 6 calendars and I label them like this:
- 1 Owner Content
Activities is for all of our family’s activities – everything from early dismissals from school to doctor’s appointments.
Ghostwriting is where I map out my clients’ projects by page count. So if I have a client who ordered 25 pages, I split it up over the course of a week with 5 pages per day for them.
Bills helps me see how much needs to be earned, by what date, to have everything paid for. I sometimes track earnings on this calendar, too.
PLR and 1 Owner Content is where I list a topic per day on the calendar. I allow myself the flexibility to skip around, but I cross out topics as I create the new PLR or 1 Owner Content packs. It just helps to have 30 topics per month mapped out.
My project calendar is where I map out tasks for major products I’m creating. It might include everything from creating an outline to securing JV partners.
All of these calendars stay by my desk and I just highlight or cross things off as I go. It helps to see all that I’ve accomplished, too. That’s a feel good factor that is important to me. And what's great is, if I get offtrack, I can just reprint quickly and map it out again.
Rachel Rofe of How To Get Every Book You Write Onto The First Page Of Kindle says:
I manage my calendar via Google Calendar. I love it because it's always available either on my computer or on my phone, and I pretty much always have one of those around.
If I am at a doctor's appointment, for example, I can just whip out my phone when looking to schedule a follow up appointment and have all my availability right in front of me.
It's also fantastic because I can share my calendar with my main assistant and then also with MyFancyHands.com.
Every week, MyFancyHands sends me a “Looking Ahead” email with everything I have going on that week, which is very helpful. They get that by syncing into my calendar.
They can also look at my calendar and offer to confirm appointments, etc. Here's a screenshot showing you what I mean:
The arrows are where they offer to give me extra help.
Also, when they schedule appointments for me, they put it right into my calendar. And my assistant can see when to schedule interviews for me because she can see everything too.
In short — Google Calendar rules. 🙂
Dr. Mani of How to Set Goals says:
Paper and pen works well for me.
But then, if you see this, you'll know why 😆
I draw circles around dates on a calendar that hangs on my wall.
I also set alarms on my mobile phone to serve as reminders.
Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of Plan Your Online Business says:
I use Outlook 2003 for my calendar. Yes, it's old, but it's familiar and my favorite layout. I tried newer versions, but none of them worked for me. I believe that if you have to argue with a tool to get it to do what you want, it's the wrong tool for you.
One of the things I love about my outlook calendar is that I can drag emails into the calendar to schedule appointments or work sessions.
I keep both business and personal on the calendar, using color coding to differentiate. I use colors for personal, travel required, speaking (meaning I have prep to do!), required call (for coaching and consulting), then those other items – birthdays, anniversaries, webinars to attend, meeting to attend, movies I want to see, etc.
Each appointment has all of the details needed for it – program description, links to the webinar, where I filed the notes. I also set reminders to go off 15 minutes before a live event or days in advance of a birthday or trip.
We have a year-long wall calendar that both my husband and I use to schedule trips and important dates. As soon as we know when and where we'll be it's added to the wall calendar. It's an easy visual tool.
To see more of my productivity tools, check Organize Your Online Business
Shannon Cherry of Learn How I Get *Paid* to Attend Events says:
I use a combination of calendar management processes.
First, I use Google Calendar. I like it because I can access it everywhere and on every device I own. And it's easy to schedule on the fly.
I also hook that calendar with my TimeTrade software. I have all my clients book their own time so there is no back and forth about scheduling. And finally, I also have a VA who helps me do my scheduling for those odd scheduling items. (I personally am horrible about scheduling my own things. I often double book or don't give myself enough ‘break' time so for me it's better to outsource.)
Now when it comes to scheduling my marketing campaigns, I use Trello. It's an easy to-do and calendar system so my entire team knows what needs to be done and when.
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
Wow. I'm really pretty shocked by the responses. There are a lot more pen and paper types than I thought there would be. 🙂
Our entire family uses Google Calendar along with the apps that ride along with it (iPhone, iPads, iPods, etc).
Each person's activities display as a different color in the calendar and we can all see each other's stuff to keep things straight.
It's a life saver when it comes to me trying to make a doctor's appointment for one of the kiddos or for setting appointments for myself. It keeps our busy family schedule running as smoothly as possible – plus I can safely book travel dates, knowing that everything that we've got going on is already in the calendar so I won't book a speaking engagement during one of my daughter's shows for instance.
Just that one thing has really reduced my stress level. Now, whether I'm in my car or at the beach or in Las Vegas at a sushi restaurant, if someone needs me to check my calendar or schedule something, I can. When I had the pencil and paper method, I would have to jot down a note or say “I'm not near my calendar right now” or call my husband and have him look at the calendar. Now I always have it at my fingertips.
Plus, the beauty of the Google calendar tied to your phone is that you can set reminders. There's been more than one occasion where my phone has beeped and I jumped up and yelled “Crap!” as I had lost track of time and needed to be somewhere in an hour – so in the shower I went. 🙂 (Thank you Google!)
As for scheduling and coordinating appointments goes – I use Time Trade, too. (Thank you, Kelly, for helping me to set that up.) That way, to schedule a podcast interview, I just send the link to a potential guest and they set their time, based upon my availability. They then receive all of the instructions and the appointment syncs with Google Calendar. Yep. You heard that right…. TimeTrade works with Google Calendar. So, I tell TimeTrade “These are the times and dates when I will do interviews.” But, if I schedule a doctor's appointment during that time block, then TimeTrade won't LET a podcast guest schedule at that time. So there are *usually* no conflicts where I have to juggle more than I want to.
It's POETRY IN MOTION.
One last thing. My “to do” list is not electronic. I keep that separate on paper. So, I am old fashioned in that way. I just love love love the convenience of managing my calendar from the cloud and being able to access it anytime and anywhere. (If you can't tell… I love it!) 🙂
What about you?
What are you using to manage your personal and business calendars? Please join the discussion.