Be a Scheduling Ninja, Part 1

A few key strategies that help me kick time’s ass

First of all, why would you want to be a scheduling ninja? If you don’t like to conserve energy, be more efficient, have predictable and consistent results, build scalability in your business, and most of all have people like you, then you should probably just stop reading right now. Consider this fair warning.

Still reading? Perhaps, like me and many of my clients, you want all these things and MORE. You don’t want to live a desperate existence as a slave to your calendar, forever rushing like a headless chicken from one task to the next. So, now that we have that common ground, here are a few key things I find helpful when it comes to scheduling your time:

Your peak hours

When are you the most creative? The most sluggish? Are you a morning person or a night owl? If you aren’t sure, start taking notice of how you feel throughout the day for two weeks. Pay attention to your schedule, and how it feels to you.

What makes you happy?

As discussed in my previous post 6 Ways to Self-Care Like a Boss, it’s important to identify what recharges your batteries and makes you feel good, so you can actually make time for it! When scheduling, I put ME and some of my self-care stuff in FIRST, and then fill in my work and social stuff around it. Remember, you are your most important client.

Schedule your scheduling

I know this might sound a bit crazy, but I like to review my week Sunday evening, I advise my clients to do the same or block off time at the end or beginning of every week, to review, prepare and make sure everything is lining up right. And for those pesky clients that are perpetually late or forget, send them a reminder, just so you’re not sitting at a coffee shop waiting….waiting….waiting….

Think in a pattern

I learned the power of strategy and ‘big picture’ thinking when working as a door to door knife saleswoman for CutCo company in my twenties. Driving my little hooptie around Chicago, I learned to map out the routes that were the most efficient, rather than looking at each sales call as an individual task, they all added up to a larger goal. How could I see the most people, while traveling the least amount of miles, and saving on gas? As a BONUS…Another part of my sales strategy at this time was parking my beater car around the corner so no one would see how ghetto it was!

Bad car jokes aside, a geographic strategy is important for scheduling. Save yourself time and money and book appointments back to back at the same location. Most people nowadays have their second office at the local coffee shop or watering hole… sit in one spot and have your meetings come to you.  This is a life saver, I will set my alarm, for 10 minutes shy of our scheduled time, so that I am truly present and not constantly checking my phone or looking at the clock, which by the way, isn’t a good feeling to the person sitting across from you. I usually tell them, I have my alarm set to honor our time, and if my next client comes in before I am completed, I give them the “eye” that I will be right with them.  Like a revolving door, my appts show, smooth and efficient!

Leave wiggle room

Leave some unscheduled time for when life ‘happens’. Get a flat tire or a call from school that your kid is projectile vomiting? No worries! You have wiggle room. You can call up your 1 ‘o’clock and move them to later in the week because you’re a ninja and just happened to leave a spot open for something like this. (Caution: don’t be the perpetual “rescheduler” though, use it sparingly.) Good job you! This also leaves room for good surprises too, like a chance encounter with your dream client who wants to meet ASAP so they can hire you for (enter your most expensive service here).

Damage control

Now you’ve really done it. We’ve all been there when we’ve totally FUBARed our day and scheduled two people at once, or spaced an appointment. It’s OK. You’re a human, not a robot. The most important thing is to OWN IT, ASAP and be HONEST. Contact the person immediately and apologize, and reschedule your appointment right then. DON’T make excuses. The next time you meet, do something small, but nice for them. Simply getting there early and buying them a coffee or beverage of their choice can set a positive tone.

Being HONEST side note: don’t cancel an appt using a fake excuse and get caught up.  The last thing you want to do is have your client see you at the beach later that day or at a networking event that night after you suddenly came down with the flu earlier in the day.

Many scheduling mishaps happen when we don’t have our calendar, or it’s not up to date, and someone asks us for a meeting. You know that nagging feeling in your head that there’s something you know you have to do at that time, but you can’t remember what. In situations like this, I say something like “I’ll pencil you in and confirm via text later today”. If I have to move the appointment, the person is already prepared for the possibility of change.

That’s a wrap, ninjas

Tune in for my next post, where I’ll break down some of my step by step practices that help me achieve scheduling bliss.

What does your schedule look like, and what challenges are you facing? I want to hear from you. Need some advanced scheduling ninja training?

Lets chat!

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