Ep 238 | Take Back Control of Your Calendar

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Meetings are great – you can get a lot done. Typically, they requre more work afterwards and your calendar can quickly get filled up without time to get the actual work done. 2024 is the year you master your calendar and get things done. Not all meetings NEED to happen and really asking yourself the purpose and the end goal can go a long way. What you allow your schedule to become is ultimately on you. This episode gives you some tools to make sure you have room in your schedule to do all the things!

What you'll learn:

→ how to take control back with your calendar.
→ making scheduling easier.
→ blocking off personal items so you don't get double booked.
→ why its important to understand how you work best.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[3:35] Automating schedule through a digital calendar is extremely helpful and a great time saver. However, if you don't pay attention to the time you block off for other things it can get out of control quickly. Make sure you're managing your schedule appropriately to give you the time you need in your day for the tasks you need to do.
[4:32] Monthly, look ahead at your schedule and determine what tasks need to get done and block off time. This could be content creation, pulling data, reconciling finances, etc. Make sure you have time set aside so you don't get to the end of the month and have to scramble.
[6:12] Make sure your personal things are on your calendar as well. This could be gym time, kiddo obligations, lunch, etc. When its on your calendar its easier to not get double booked and you can reduce stress of the things you need to schedule and get done.
[8:15] Create focus time and block it off. Giver yourself at least one 2-3 hour block a week that you know you have to get stuff done. That way you don't have multiple meetings oddly spaced out and you can focus on one bigger project or task.
[9:54] Take meetings and schedule tasks when you work best. Not everyone works the same way. Allow yourself to do the tasks at the time you're at your best. For example, its better for me to have meetings in the afternoons and focus on big tasks in the morning. There are also certain days of the week where my schedule is better for meetings and better for tasks due to family schedules.


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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-mulhern] Hey, hey, welcome to our first official episode for January 2024. And this month is all about taking action, perfecting your systems and getting things done. I love January for that I love a fresh start, I love that we have fresh goals. And so in this episode today, I'm going to be talking to you a little bit about how to master your calendar. If you feel overwhelmed by your calendar, like I do, sometimes, I love these tips for ways to kind of take advantage of the time that you have and make sure that you have things ready to go so that you have space to get things done that you need to get done. We have this balance between the work I need to do for my business, you know, inside my business, the administrative things, you know, the things that have to get done so that we can do the other things like I've done our meetings and run our special events and all the things and sometimes it layers on top of itself and it can get a little crazy. I'm gonna share some tips for how when I feel like I'm at my best, how i Master my calendar. And it's always a work in progress. And sometimes I have to come back and remind myself and get back into a rhythm during busy seasons. And there's an ebb and flow to things. So give yourself some grace. But hopefully this will help you with some ways and ideas for how to make the most of your calendar.

Now, new for 2024. We have a new freebie every single month that you can download to help you with some of the elements, our freebie this month. And this is what our episode is brought to you by our digital marketing therapy episode is brought to you buy this month's freebie. And it is a checklist to help you evaluate your tech. Now we're going to talk more about this in future episodes. But we created a checklist to kind of help you determine what tech you are or excuse me, when you're trying to get new tech, how to evaluate if it's the right piece for you. You could also use it to evaluate if the stuff you're using is going to be helpful for you in the long term. So as you kind of maybe think about January, how can you pull out some of the things that you're paying for that maybe you don't need anymore. So just a good tool to help you evaluate the subscriptions that you have the technology that you're using, is it the right piece for what you need. And that's why we created this tool. So you can download that. At the end the show notes for this episode, and every episode this month at https://thefirstclick.net/podcast. The show notes for this episode will specifically be at https://thefirstclick.net/238. So head on over there, snag that freebie and start saving yourself some money maybe on some technology that you don't need.

Let's get into the episode.

[Intro] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each month we dive deep into a digital marketing or fundraising strategy that you can implement in your organization. Each week, you'll hear from guest experts, nonprofits, and myself on best practices, tips and resources to help you raise more money online and reach your organizational goals.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern]  So it often feels like our calendars control us that we don't control our calendars or our time. And we can spin our wheels and really get frustrated thinking about all of the different things that we have to do and create. And it's a little overwhelming at times, right? So there's so many different ways that you can do this. And I'm not going to give you a one size fits all solution, right? Some people time blocked, some people do the Pomodoro method, which is where you work in in smaller chunks of time. Some people just work 24/7. So I'm going to share with you a few things that I do because my calendar sometimes gets out of control quickly. I use a tool called acuity scheduling. And I love it because it takes a lot of that time out of the back and forth when it comes to scheduling. So for example, if somebody says, Hey, can I get on your calendar to chat for 30 minutes, then you know, I can just send them my calendar link, they can book the time that's convenient for them. And away we go. But it can also mean that sometimes I lose complete control over my calendar, right, I'll have three meetings throughout the day, each might be 30 minutes, but because people are auto scheduling, they're only like, I have maybe 15 or 20 minutes in between the meetings. And it's just wasted time that I can't actually get anything done. That's frustrating. And so I've really learned to kind of still use that tool and still really keep things moving forward in that regard. But make sure that I'm building in space for the things that I need to do. So the first thing that I like to do is think about what do I have to do every single month, and I go bigger, and then I kind of break it down. So every single month, what are some of the things that I know I have to do? I have to do some data polls and make sure I'm tracking some of those elements. I might have to do some website reviews, like what is it that you need to do every single month without fail? And then make sure you have that time blocked off on your calendar. So whether it's the third Thursday of every month, whatever it might be, put that on your calendar as a recurring meeting. Gonna do two things for you one you know you've got that Time and Space built into do that work so it doesn't creep up on you. Also in your mind, you're like, oh, I don't have to worry about this. Now I've got this calendar, it's in there, I've got space for it, I'm good to go. So that's everything you have to do every month. And then think about what you need to do on a weekly basis. Right. So maybe that is social media scheduling, maybe that is podcast editing, whatever it might be writing a blog post, I don't know, think about those and block those things off on your calendar. So now you know you've got the space and time to do these things that need to get done. That's one really quick tip for how you can get consistent with your marketing, especially if you're a small shop. Because a lot of times when you get busy with everything else, you just kind of forget it, right? And you're like, Okay, well, I'll just get to it later. If it's not on your calendar, you're not going to carve out the time and space to do it. Now, here's the other tricky thing with some of these tasks that maybe aren't your favorite, or you don't think are as important, you might push them off and say, Okay, well, I can put that, I can just block that off with something else. To challenge you to not do that to test it for at least a quarter. And just see what it looks like when you have this space set up for you to get these things done. Now, I also want you to think about the personal things that you have. So for example, on my Work calendar, right, I have my gym time blocked off at least three days a week, I also have the drop up, drop off and pickup time for my kiddos blocked off. So that I have personal things that I know that are in there. So when people are automatically scheduling with me, they don't see what I'm doing. But that time is not available. And so I think that's also really important. Anything that you have, if it's, you know that you want to make sure that you are having a 30 minute lunch break every single day, lock it off on your calendar, right, so people can't sneak in and take that time, your time is valuable. And you deserve to have some of that time for yourself. Well, depending on how your schedule works, and who does your scheduling or who has access to your calendar, I would also block off your mornings, if you know you don't want meetings until 10am block off your morning and just say focus work or something of that regard, it's really important that you put that in there because people can't read your mind. They don't know what you have going on with acuity, for example, and I'll link that up in the show notes. But with acuity, I can set my blood work hours, so that it won't even even if my calendar doesn't have anything in it, it only shows those available times. So that's another really quick tip. Now the other thing I know I started kind of monthly and weekly, because that's kind of our everyday day to day. But also think about the things that you might have to do quarterly or annually, maybe it's financials, bookkeeping, I always recommend an annual review of your website, it might be budgeting sessions, whatever, go ahead and put those on your calendar, you can always change and move them around, but at least have them there. So that you know you've got that time dedicated and blocked off and people can't steal that time for you, from you. Really the big trick is how can you make sure that people don't have access to your time that you need to allocate to other important parts of your business and your personal life. So finally, I also if I know that there are certain things that are coming up, or if I may be in a quieter season, I will put, like right now on Tuesdays, I just have focused time. And it's a three hour block that is just automatically recurring on my calendar. Now it's at my discretion if I want to change that. But now I know at least have a two or three hour chunk of time once a week where nobody can book time with me that I can focus on things that I need to get done. You could absolutely use that as like a placeholder for donor meetings, or it could be writing whatever it might be. But I just have that in there every single Tuesday. So I can get in that habit, that's when I know I'm going to have a chunk of time to just work on a big project, whatever that project might be. If you're somebody who's super organized, you can start to fill in some of the topics around that totally at your discretion. But I love to do that and have that dedicated space where I know people can't overlap a bunch of meetings with weird spacing, and whatnot. And then really just making sure that you respect yourself just as much as you respect all the other people's appointments that you're taking. Your time is valuable, your time is yours. And so you don't need to give it all up having boundaries and figuring out what those boundaries are for you. What time do you start work? What time do you end work? How often do you respond to emails? When do you respond to them, right? Managing your calendar in that way is really important for your self care, mental health and like avoiding that burnout. So that is what I do to master and master is a strong term but to take control of my calendar. I really try to make sure that I know what's in there that I'm controlling when the meetings can happen when the record Things can happen, right? I only do podcast recordings on so many days a week, because I don't want to have to, you know, make sure that I'm ready. Not that I get all fancied up, but I just want to make sure that I'm, you know, in that mode, and then I kind of batch those tasks. So just really being conscious of how can I set up my schedule to work with my flow. I know on these days, I have to do school pickup and drop off. So I'm a little bit more frazzled, I'm not going to take donor meetings those days. On these days, I don't have to do any of that I have some time to get up and get ready, get some work done. Think through some tasks that I have, I'm in a much better mindset, these are going to be great days for me to have donor meetings, and just communicate. And sometimes it's not always going to work. But when you stand up for yourself and your time and set your own boundaries, you'd be surprised how people are willing to work within your boundaries. It's all good. So this is my challenge to you in January, I hope that you can kind of set this up, pay attention to how you work best, what works best for you calendar your time that way. Because I'm a much more focused, productive person in the mornings afternoons are harder. So I know that I need to put certain tasks in the morning, and other tasks in the afternoon. And so really pay attention to how you work best what works for you set up your calendar accordingly. And then at that point, it's up to you the follow through, right, people are not taking advantage of you, you're letting them take advantage of your calendar. So follow through, respect your own time, make sure you give yourself space to get the things done that you need to get done. And that's my calendar pep talk. I love these short and sweet episodes where I just get to come and chat with you quickly about some of these things that I've been working on. Again, make sure you head over to the show notes at https://thefirstclick.net/238 to grab that freebie I mentioned or any other resources that I talked about in today's episode acuity including acuity. There's tons of great calendar options out there. But thank you for listening and watching. If you're here on YouTube, make sure you subscribe wherever you listen, we're streaming on all the podcast platforms, and I can't wait to see you in the next one.

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