Here are some tricks and tips that we personally use to better manage our work time:
In addition to recording scheduled meetings and appointments in our online calendars, we use our work calendars as a rolling to-do list for everything that is outstanding on our projects. Each task we have, from writing up documents, to following-up with prospective clients, to checking up after a requested delivery date, is allocated time on our weekly calendars. This also includes repeating tasks such as updating the Sales and Marketing status report before each meeting or confirming that our timesheets are completed each week. Using our calendar this way helps us to see all of our outstanding work in one central place; and it also means that we have blocked time in our daily schedules to actually work on each task, so that we are more likely to get it done that day.
Using our calendars to this level of detail also assists us in completing our timesheets more accurately. Not only do we have a record of what work was completed each day, but we make a point of updating each entry in the calendar to reflect exactly how much time was required to complete that task. This includes adding entries that say “Mtg, cont.” if a meeting which somebody else scheduled in our calendars goes beyond the originally scheduled time. It also includes recording quick discussions with people after the fact to make sure that we know what each “nickel and dime” in our day was allocated to.
The other key benefit to using this approach in a publicly viewable online calendar system is that the other people in the organization can easily see the priorities that each of us is working on and make a judgment call as to whether their meeting is really more important than generating client invoices, meeting with prospective clients. etc. Of course, that does not stop people from overbooking appointments in our calendars when an urgent item does come up. But it does help them to know whether each of us is scheduled to be in the office or away at a client site during that time, so that they can reschedule the appointment where needed.
Most importantly, at the end of each day, we make a point of moving any action that was not completed to another future point in our calendars to make sure that it does not get overlooked.
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