Rearrange This One Thing for a More Balanced Schedule
Being an entrepreneur means having a totally flexible schedule and all the time in the world to do your work, right? That might be the dream, but more often than not, entrepreneurs have chaotic schedules that run their life.
I want to have control over my schedule not let my schedule take control over me.
When I take a hard look at my calendar and what derailed me from having the focus and freedom I so badly want, there’s usually one thing that gets in the way.
Meetings chop up your day and make it hard to find enough time to get in the zone with the work that needs your focus.
Unfortunately, meetings are also totally necessary. There’s a lot of benefit to meeting someone in person to get to know them or scheduling a call to discuss the details of an upcoming project. I. Get. It.
But there has to be a way to take all the necessary meetings and not lose total control of your schedule.
Here are four things I do to take back control over my schedule:
1. Schedule all meetings and calls on the same day
The best way for me to focus and get things done is to have no interruptions. Surprise, surprise.
A short call may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve noticed that it does make it harder to get back in to whatever I was doing before. I’m still thinking about my work when I’m on the call and I’m still thinking about the call when I go back to my work.
To counter this, I try to schedule all of my calls and meetings for the week on a single day (or two). It’s not always possible, but if I can schedule them together, my whole week is better and my clients are happier too.
2. Limit in-person meetings
I am not going to lie about this: I think in-person meetings are mostly useless.
In most cases, in-person meetings end up being a huge waste of time. I waste time driving there and back. And during the meeting, I can’t help but think about how it would be a better use of time for me to actually be at my desk, doing the work the client has paid me to do.
It is rare that something needs to be done in person that couldn’t be done on a call. So, when a client suggests an in-person meeting, I almost always suggest a call instead.
The only time I don’t hate meetings as much is when I meet someone for the first time and am trying to get to know them. A face-to-face introductory meeting has a lot of value when you want to quickly go from strangers to collaborators.
3. Give the meeting a hard stop
Some of my clients are awesome people to talk to and it’s easy to continue an interesting conversation. The only problem is that it’s also too easy for a 30 minute call to turn into an hour long call when the conversation is good.
Then I’m off my schedule, the dominos start falling, and I’ve lost control.
Ultimately, I want to get my work done, not spend more time on the phone.
I started giving myself a hard stop. Sometimes I say something like, “Just so you know, I have another meeting right after this, so let’s make sure we get everything done before then.”
I may not have anything after the call, that other meeting might just be with myself and the work I need to get done, but making it known that I have a hard stop at 30 minutes, tends to make the meeting more efficient.
4. Make status updates a regular thing
In PR, it’s really common for clients to ask for a status update. I used to take the time to write a response whenever a client asked, but it became too disruptive and time consuming.
It’s better for the client if I spend that time working on pitching them to the media, rather than writing up another status update.
The only issue is that it looks really bad to not give a full response about the status of a project. It’s not something you should ignore.
So instead, I give a status update every Friday or at the end of the month depending on the client. Since the client expects a status update, they are way less likely to ask randomly.
This might seem like it’s specific to PR, but really it can work for anyone with a boss or client that interrupts your work by checking in. Get in the habit of sending a consistent status update, and they won’t waste your time asking you for one.