As coaches, we know running a business takes a lot of time, discipline, and expertise. It’s easy to let sessions through the cracks or even forget to feed and care for ourselves when the deadlines pile up.
We’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of project management scheduling tips to help you work through the nightmare of scheduling and avoid getting lost in the maze of your calendar. Plus, Practice has all the tools you need to elevate your business and handle all your scheduling needs.
6 tips to manage your time like a pro
Perfecting our schedules and growing our businesses starts with us. We’re responsible for customer service, project management, and the planning process, but we also need to consider our health and mental well-being. A stressed coach can’t function optimally, and overworking affects our performance and client relationships negatively. Don’t neglect the most important member of your team — yourself.
Time management will help us as coaches and our clients. It'll make our sessions run smoother, the scheduling process easier, and help our clients reach their goals efficiently. Once we fall into a rhythm of great time management, we’ll avoid double booking and last-minute changes, thereby improving the client experience.
Take control of your time with these six scheduling tips:
1. Create a routine
Even if our day-to-day responsibilities don’t line up exactly, creating a routine will give our clients and us a sense of consistency. Creating a routine will help us know what to expect each day, even if our calendars aren’t immediately available. We can create routines by blocking times for specific activities, including breaks and when it’s time to call it a day.
Grouping meetings and calls into blocks is a great tactic to compartmentalize different tasks. Additionally, we can optimize these appointments by adjusting their slot duration as needed. Remember to factor potential travel and preparation time into our schedules and to leave time between meetings just in case we’re running a minute or two late. A coaching structure also helps us better manage our time and keeps sessions on track.
Consider what responsibilities we have in a day and how long they take. We often overlook the amount of time we spend answering emails and messages, so scheduling times throughout the day helps us stay on track. The same is true for preparing for and planning sessions — we should block out time specifically for this purpose. Once we’ve blocked off time for specific tasks, it’s important to stick to a schedule and complete the work we’ve assigned ourselves.
Once we have this basic routine, we can mix and match our work priorities and slot them into blocks as needed. This gives us some flexibility in our schedules and ensures we’re giving ourselves time off to relax and manage our tasks efficiently.
2. Pick a tool
Creating and adjusting schedules can be difficult, so we should use tools to make the process easier. Here’s a list of project management scheduling tools to help us throughout our scheduling process:
- A pen and paper calendar. We can use physical calendars to visualize our project schedule. A planner is great for portability if we’re constantly on the go. This also allows us to record projected finish dates and schedule changes as they happen. Plus, nothing is more satisfying than crossing off a task.
- Google Calendar. Digital scheduling software is easily accessible on multiple devices, and most even have shareable appointment and meeting scheduling functionality. This is a highly accessible tool for project teams and clients. It’s easy to visualize activity blocks and slots with Google Calendar and update project statuses and edit end dates and deadlines.
- A printed-out template. It’s easy to customize templates from our day-to-day to our start date with new clients and their first session. This method provides an easy way to take notes or mark date constraints.
- Phone alarms. Whether for important one-off events, recurring tasks, or even just as a reminder to take a break, alarms keep us on track. They remind us to move on with our daily tasks once we’ve reached the end of our specified time slot.
- CRM platforms. Practice offers CRM tools to help coaches with all their administrative needs, from scheduling to customer service. Our platform makes scheduling appointments and staying on track easy.
It may take some trial and error to find the most suitable schedule management tools for our businesses — we might need to use a combination of tools — but once we do, creating a routine is easy.
With our wealth of responsibilities, it’s important to know when and what to prioritize. We can’t understate the importance of project scheduling. This helps us stay focused and saves time and energy. A priority matrix provides a great methodology for learning how to manage a schedule and prioritize crucial tasks. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use a priority matrix:
1. Create a chart with the axes “impact” and “effort. We’ll end up with four quadrants:
- Quadrant one (top left): These are high-impact and low-effort tasks, or “quick wins.”
- Quadrant two (top right): These projects are high-impact but require high effort; they’re our “major projects.”
- Quadrant three (bottom left): These tasks are both low-impact and low-effort. These are our “fill-ins.”
- Quadrant four (bottom right): These low-impact and high-effort tasks are our “thankless tasks.”
2. Categorize all scheduled tasks into one of the four quadrants based on their ratio of effort to impact.
3. Prioritize quick wins. Complete these tasks first when they arise.
4. Work on major projects. Creating checkpoints and milestones to keep ourselves on track is helpful for these less time-sensitive tasks.
5. Delegate or decline fill-ins. We can make much better use of our time by focusing on other quadrants.
6. Delay thankless tasks. If possible, we should try to decline these projects to maximize the effectiveness of our businesses.
4. Block your schedule
After completing our project management scheduling, it’s time to let everyone know our availability. If we’ve set aside time for ourselves to rest and recuperate, it’s important we inform those around us when they can reach us. These blocks of “me” time include lunches, preparation time, and rest. Remember, we shouldn’t assign ourselves work-related tasks during this time either.
At the end of each week, we should reflect and consider what we could improve or remove from our routine. If certain tasks require more time to complete, we can refine our routines and priority matrices to account for this.
With repeated adjustments, we can reach a more effective baseline to plan our following week, make more accurate forecasts, and adapt to potential project scheduling hiccups. In time, this will allow us to refine our project execution, account for lags, and better understand how much time projects will take.
6. Take time for yourself
As coaches, we often push ourselves to achieve greatness and help our clients do the same. Although this is an admirable goal, it’s worth keeping in mind project success isn’t everything. The more we overwork ourselves, the less we can effectively help our clients and team members.
We might even want to schedule specific dates off as personal days once in a while to keep things fresh. Being away from our work allows us to clear our minds and take inspiration from different sources. Taking a breather before returning to the daily grind gives us new ideas and motivation to help our clients achieve their goals with the shortest route not the longest path.
Optimize your schedule with Practice
Hopefully, you’ve picked up some tips and tricks to optimize your schedule. These six best practices will maximize your time so you can focus on clients and still have time to prioritize yourself. Creating a routine and sticking to it will ensure you have the tools and time to thrive.
Do you want to optimize your work blocks and make the most of your weekly routine? Try Practice’s client management tools and take control of your schedule.