This guest post has been contributed by Tilman Eberle of Doodle
Most people have uttered an inward curse as a meeting enters its third hour, with more actions joining an already lengthy to-do list. Meetings with investors, partners, customers, prospects and recruiters can be a genuine barrier to productive working and the time spent in meetings could add up to weeks for a small business owner over a calendar year.
Even arranging those meetings can be a drain on your time and we’ve all been witness to the constant to’ing and fro’ing of emails that come with trying to coordinate a meeting with several participants. But there are measures that can be put in place to help keep your head above water in managing your time and calendar wisely. Whether you have a PA, secretary or manage your own diary it can be a full-time job staying on top of meetings. So to help with this, Doodle, an online scheduling service, has compiled a list of tips and tricks that can decrease the amount of time spent on coordinating meetings and managing a schedule and allow people to concentrate on their business instead.
Consolidate: Use one tool as the central place for your schedule. Everybody has a different preference (an old-school filofax, the company’s Outlook-system or an online calendar), but the key is to make sure that you have everything in the same place. This prevents double-booking issues and general confusion.
Share: A sharable online calendar like Google Calendar can be used by individuals who frequently need to coordinate meetings with other people. Depending on the situation, whether work, social or other, the calendar can be shared with coworkers, family, friends or anyone else.
Separate: Calendars that mix to-do lists with appointments are a recipe for disaster. Add appointments to your calendar, but don’t combine them with your to-do list. Keeping your tasks separate will keep your mind clear and a task management tool like RememberTheMilk can help with this.
Declutter: Don’t store random notes in your calendar. Instead, keep your notes in a paper notebook, a specific document or a service such as Evernote that helps you remember things, using your computer, phone, tablet and the web.
Streamline your schedule: When you need to set up a meeting or social event with more than one person, use an online scheduling tool instead of sending emails or making phone calls. This will eliminate the constant back and forth communication, saving a strain on your inbox and reducing the volume of email you have to read personally.
Focus: Make the calendar entries (or the events from the online scheduling tool) the communication channels for your appointments (invitations, updates, location changes, etc.).
Travel smart: Including travel information in your calendar can help to keep you organised while you travel, and a tool like TripIt will do a lot of the work for you. Also, instead of travelling for meetings, consider scheduling conference calls or online meetings to save even more time – more often than not these are just as effective.
Make it personal: It’s your life and your schedule. Find the calendar management methods that work best for you and stick with them.
You may still have to attend the occasional pointless meeting but with these helpful tips, tricks and technologies you can organise and streamline your life and calendar.