The Essentials of Planning For Your Day

Have you ever heard someone say, or maybe you have said it yourself; “there aren’t enough hours in the day”, or, “I’m so busy that I can’t fit one more minute into my busy schedule”?

Both statements are very common among entrepreneurs and it’s probably true for many of us; but is it really true for most of us?

I believe that most business people lack the ability to properly plan for their workday. I also believe that when one accurately plans for each day, hour by hour, minute by minute, we become more productive individuals. I know that there are studies that prove what I am about to say, right now I’m just speaking from my own experience.

Before I even begin to speak about time management, let’s take a minute to talk about how we should respect other people’s time.

Time, it is an essential and scarce commodity, that is why we value it so much.

Business people, especially entrepreneurs, have been told that the secret to success is networking.  That, of course, is another interesting subject to ponder upon at another time.  Nonetheless, for the sake of making a point let’s briefly touch upon how Networking could conceivably ruin our scheduled life.

The need to effectively Network leads us to joining a myriad of organizations, each one with their own methods for accomplishing the task at hand, which is meeting new people and hoping to win new business as a result.

Breakfasts, lunches, after-hours events, get-togethers, committees, and not to mention the all too necessary one-on-ones.  It’s a miracle that we have time to do our jobs. Time has become so precious that we can actually attach a dollar value to it. In managing our time we discover that every waking minute is necessary to accomplish our goal; success!

So, if we are aware that our time is so precious, why is it that sometimes we don’t have the same awareness for other people’s time?  Say what?  Before we can speak of our own time, we need to understand the importance of someone else’s time because there is a direct correlation between one and the other.

Maybe if I illustrate.

A few months back I had an appointment to meet a possible future client at a known local coffee shop.  The person I was to meet, while on his way to our meeting, finds out that he had to divert to the airport to pick up his wife whose plane was about to land any minute.  Something he had to do, sometimes we don’t have a choice, we need to change our schedule on the fly.  My appointment had left my cell phone number at home, so he decided to go ahead and meet me at the designated location, at the agreed time, where he immediately explained his situation and proceeded to apologize and say that he couldn’t stay for the meeting, I understood, we rescheduled and that was the end of that.  Why did I use this example; you ask?  Well, although there are holes to be poked in the way that my appointment handled this particular circumstance, he did respect my time enough to show up and offer me an explanation which I really appreciated.

Just remember, when leaving your home or office in the morning take the necessary information with you where you can contact your appointment if you are unable to arrive on time or if you need to reschedule.  Remember, your appointment’s time is equally as precious as yours.  Believe it or not, respecting the other person’s time will help you to begin respecting your own.

Now, back to the main subject.

Because unexpected situations appear in our daily life, we need to be “scheduly prepared”.  I know, I just made up a new word and phrase, but it’ll makes sense once I explain.

“Scheduly prepared”, simply means that by scheduling your whole day you will be able to overcome any inconvenience that may arise during that particular day and find enough time to squeeze in those tasks that at one time you thought were impossible to include in your day.

For example, my weekly calendar is set up as follows: I have scheduled every day from Monday thru Saturday, from 7 to 8 AM Gym time.  That means that on those days at that specific time I expect myself to be at the gym.  At noontime I have scheduled “lunch” for one hour.  On Monday thru Friday I have scheduled from 9 AM to 5 PM office time.  Notice that I have not included any specific appointments, the reason for that is that I don’t know which day I will have appointments or a breakfast or a luncheon, with the exception of the set monthly activities which fall on the same day of every month.  I usually don’t know how the following week is going to look like until Friday of the present week or the following Monday, at which time I will adjust my calendar to reflect any changes in schedule.

Another example is: I know that on the first and third wednesday of the month I have a business breakfast which lasts two hours, I also know that on the second and third Tuesday of the month I have another business breakfast and a committee meeting, respectively, and on the last Wednesday of the month another committee meeting, so these are permanent adjustments to my schedule.  On those early morning appointments I know I can’t go to the gym so I take the gym out, but adjust the office hours to reflect both meeting and travel times.

Wow!! Now you’re confusing me; Travel time? Yes, travel time. That may be part of the issue that you may be having, sometimes we don’t take into consideration travel time.

For example: I have a breakfast in the city of Doral that ends at 9 AM.  If my appointment that morning is also in Doral then I can set the appointment for 9:30 AM.  That gives me plenty of time to leave the breakfast venue, get to the parking lot and drive to the appointment with time to spare.

Given the same scenario, but the appointment is now in the city of Coral Gables.  Now I have to take into consideration distance and traffic, so I will set my second appointment of the morning for 10:30 AM.  Does it take an hour and half to get to Coral Gables, of course not, maybe a half hour in normal traffic, if there were such a thing as normal traffic in Miami.  Back to the scenario; I do have to walk from the breakfast venue to get to the car, drive out of the parking lot, and that alone may take 15 minutes, that’s if someone does’t stop me to ask a question or strike up a conversation.  So by giving me an hour and a half to the next appointment, I have assured myself that I don’t have to rush through traffic, that I have anticipated any detours on the way and, most importantly, I will arrive at my destination on time. Remember, arriving on time is part of the key to time management.

So, what happens if after all of my careful planning I have managed to arrive a  half hour early?  Good question!  If I’m early to the appointment, depending on how early I may be, I will either find a coffee shop with a wifi connection where I can sit and answer my emails, or I will sit in my car and answer simple phone calls.  The point being,that every non-driving minute of my time is productive.

Am I a mind reader or what?  Did you not just ask yourself; what’s a simple phone cal?  A simple phone call is one which will not require detailed explanations or research to answer any question posed during the conversation.  For instance, a call to the office to see if I have any mail, or to a client just to acknowledge their phone call and to tell them that I will get back to them after my next meeting.

I have now effectively blocked out every conceivable minute of the day, for every workday of the week.  I know what you’re thinking; I have painted myself into a corner and that you are right, there is no time left in the day.  Well, look at your calendar again.  See all those times that you have blocked out as office or lunch hours, those times can be rerouted into anything that you need to do. Networking, Appointments, go to the gym, if you would rather hit the gym in the evening, attend association meetings, after-hours events, etc.; whatever you need to do, the time is there to pick and choose from.  Miraculous? No, just excellent planning.

By blocking every minute of your work-day you have overcome what is probably your worst enemy; which is getting up each morning and wasting your most valuable time trying to figure out where you need to go, who you need to see or which task needs to be completed.  If you do not have business related appointments or breakfasts, or association meetings, or after hours events, you should have your Task Reminder filled with uncompleted tasks which can be accomplished during your scheduled office hours. Now you can wake up in the morning and look at your calendar and know exactly where it is that you will be each and every day and what hours can be rerouted for business appointments and any other activity that you once thought could not be included into your day.

Your Calendar and Task Reminder, are the two most valuable time management tools you will ever need.  Both of these tools have helped me to arrive at appointments on time, attend all association meetings and travel extensively.  By the way, did I forget to mention that my business requires extensive travel?  Well, it does.

If your business requires extensive travel, that may be another monkey wrench thrown into your scheduling dilemma, one which can be easily resolved by being “Scheduly Prepared.”

Another time that we forget to include in our day is family time.  Yes, they need to be scheduled in as well.  No, I’m not being sacrilegious, I just know how many times we are chastised by our spouse and children for “not having time for them”, and they are right, we rarely fit our loved ones into our busy schedule, and by not doing so they end up at the bottom of the “time totem pole”.  So, if we get into the habit of including our family in our daily calendar they will have gained their rightful place in our busy life.

In a nutshell:

  • Schedule every minute of your workday
  • First thing to add to your calendar are those events that are constant
  • Make sure that you have a daily task list to remind you of what you have to do while in the office
  • When leaving your home or office make sure that you have your appointment’s contact information readily available
  • If you can’t make it to an appointment or need to reschedule, makes sure that you give your appointment sufficient time for him or her to reroute their day
  • Don’t let extensive travel throw you off schedule
  • Include in your calendar leisure or family time
  • Be Scheduly Prepared!!!!

Your time is the only precious commodity in your life whose outcome you can actually control, so do it.

Believe me, if I can, I know that you can too!

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