What is effective diary management?
Managing your time well is about far more than just putting in appointments and meetings; it is about scheduling time for a range of tasks so that your working life is organised. This includes time for your own personal development, as well as making time for your staff, for strategy and planning and for business development. Most importantly, it is also about ensuring that there is free time – space – in your diary so that you have flexibility as well as pre-arranged time. Many businesses are turning to diary management software and virtual diary options, which ensure that the diary is always up-to-date and synchronised across all your devices.
So, what should an entrepreneur diary cover?
Your diary should reflect the way you approach your business. You may have regular meetings with staff, professional advisers, consultants or investors. You may have networking events or trade meetings you chair or be on the committee of an organisation and need to put time aside for work there.
You should also make time to work on the strategy for and direction of your business. This is particularly important for businesses of any size, because there is a constant need to refine your proposition, identify your key markets and decide how to exploit them. Whether you are working with a personal mentor or with your team, time spent concentrating on these issues without distraction is valuable.
And of course your diary must cover your day-to-day appointments: internal and external meetings and consultations that help to keep your business running.
Just managing all these elements of your diary management can take up valuable time, which is why business owners are increasingly turning to a virtual diary assistant and dedicated diary software.
Adopting virtual diary management
Changing from managing your own diary to having someone take the task on for you is a simple, but transformative change for any entrepreneur. Time management helps to free up the time you need to work on your business and, when it’s handled in close collaboration with an efficient administrator, can help you to have confidence that your diary is well-planned and well-run – leaving you to get on with your day-to-day tasks.
What’s more, it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are highly functional calendar apps that are free and synchronise not only across devices but across applications, meaning that you can create an event in one piece of software and it will automatically update all the calendars you use. Some of these apps you will have heard of and some are less well-known, so it’s worth taking the time to look at some of the ones which might work best for you:
– you may already use this feature-rich calendar app, which works across platforms and syncs immediately on all your devices, so no matter whether you input your new event from your phone, your iPad or your desktop, every device is immediately updated. You can set reminders, call meetings, view multiple calendars and share your calendar so that others can see your availability.
– one of the most popular choices for tech-based companies, Fruux is an open source calendar that supports pretty much every platform. The company has put a lot of effort into making sure the calendar looks good and works well – the downside of this is that if you want anything other than the basic package, you’ll need to pay.
– free of charge, this app supports all major platforms and is designed to help with collaborative scheduling, so that everyone across your workplace can see who’s available when. You can organize meetings easily – even across different timezones and with different devices, and users can be working on a variety of calendars and still schedule quickly and easily.
How can a virtual assistant help?
Choosing to outsource diary management may seem like a big step, but you’ll quickly benefit from having someone manage your day-to-day diary. Your assistant will take on all the tasks that you really don’t have time to do yourself – from arranging conference calls to putting time in for your home life activities. You will come to rely on your diary manager to ensure that you know where you need to be and what you need to do – leaving you free to concentrate on the content of the appointment rather than the mechanics of making it. A virtual assistant diary management service will:
- Book appointments and schedule meetings
- Co-ordinate so appointments are convenient
- Confirm appointments ahead of time, so you don’t waste time on cancelled or re-arranged meetings
- Amend or re-book meetings on your behalf
- Organise complex conference calls or video calls, dealing with multiple parties and ensuring you have the appropriate codes and numbers to access the meeting
- Control so your schedule is completely up to date and synchronised across all your devices
- Tag or code events so that you know whether they are work, home, holiday or consultancy
- Manage recurring meeting appointments
- Act as a for reminders and notes on papers or information you may need
- Highlight deadlines and ensure there is time for you to meet them
It’s easy to see how outsourcing this part of your administrative role can not only give you hours of extra time during the week, but help to improve time management skills and general planning. This can give you the confidence you need to concentrate on your business, whilst working closely with your assistant to make sure you stay on track.