September 5, 2023
Recently, I had a client share with me that while they time block a lot and feel organized, they don’t protect that time well and often stray from their schedule. They wondered what to do when clients requested calls at times they had already blocked for deep work or other business development activities.
To some, the answer may be obvious but, to others, it prompts a deeper inquiry into how their schedule is set up and an examination into if it’s working for them, versus against them. In order to assess the effectiveness of your schedule when it comes to your ability to stay in control of your time, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What are your working hours?
Think about the times of day that you are most productive. Maybe you work a traditional 9-5 day or perhaps your hours are more flexible. You’ll also want to account for the hours during the day when you are away from your computer for breaks or lunchtime.
2. Are you available at all times for calls?
If you are, is this the most productive approach that you could be taking? Are you able to consistently accomplish the things you’ve set out to do each day? Does it feel like your day is disjointed, full of stops and starts to accommodate calls at various times? Do you often find yourself rescheduling to-do’s to accommodate last-minute calls?
3. How much advance notice do you get for new call bookings?
How often do you accept a request for a call last minute and how does this affect your work habits?
Try to think about how much time would be ideal for you to prepare for a call while staying on top of your other work. Factor that into how much notice you should actually be getting. Some folks are comfortable with same-day bookings, but we’d recommend giving yourself 24 hours’ notice.
4. Which dates and times do you have blocked for deep work?
Like the client I mentioned at the outset, many find themselves having to make a choice between protecting the time they’ve set up for deep work versus taking a call.
Most of us would want to be present for our clients but at the same time, making that choice in the moment can derail your work and daily schedule if it’s unexpected. Think about the time it takes for you to get back on track with your tasks when you break to take an unexpected call or meeting.
There’s a better way – to schedule your availability for calls around your time-blocked deep work time so that you’re able to complete planned tasks and meet your existing commitments.
5. Could you set up your schedule so you’re only available for calls on specific days and times each week?
Set up specific availability in your appointment booking tool and/or calendar and then only schedule meetings during those designated times. This will help you stick to a productive schedule and allow you to use your energy and time effectively.
If you’re not used to using scheduling tools like Calendly, read on to the end of this blog for tips on how to get started.
6. Can specific days or times be made sacred and off-limits to calls?
It’s important to take breaks from certain types of work to refresh and recharge, and for many (especially introverts) this might include calls with clients! Try to have specific days and times in your schedule when calls are off-limits. This will provide you with precious blocks of time you can save for uninterrupted deep work or simply recharging.
7. Which times of day are best for deep work and which are best for calls based on your energy profile?
Keep track of your energy levels throughout the day and pay attention to when you’re most productive on certain tasks. For example, if you find your creative juices are flowing first thing in thing in morning, you may want to block deep work time for content creation in the mornings and then block time for calls after lunch when your energy tends to dip.
8. When do your potential clients typically request meetings? What time zones are they in? What are their working hours?
In addition to your needs, it’s also important to keep the needs of your clients in mind as well. If you have clients with different working hours or who are in different time zones, try to find a time that works for both of you to add to your overall call availability. This way, those clients will be able to find a time that works for them to schedule a call with you.
BONUS TIP – Visibility into your schedule at a glance
Once you’ve figured out your availability and set it up in your appointment booking system, you can time block those dates and times on your calendar as recurring events set to ‘free’. This provides a visual on when you might get booked in for calls so you can plan around that effectively, but it still allows your booking tool to book appointments during those time blocks.
Using Scheduling Tools and Appointment Booking Links
Sometimes people shy away from using booking links, but using them saves both parties a ton of time and improves our overall effectiveness. Using a booking link is far more streamlined and easy than taking individual requests one by one.
For myself, my Calendly link has been a game changer. I no longer have to go back and forth to find a time that works for all parties. With this type of booking tool, you can simply share a link with your availability for bookings on a website, in an email, or in a DM professionally and efficiently. The system will then automatically add any booked appointments to your choice of calendar and send a calendar invite to your meeting guest with the call or web conferencing details and related links.
Calendly publishes great resources to help you get started including blogs about automating client scheduling, customer stories about how Calendly has improved their organization, and ebooks and tutorials to help you get started with their tool! You can always try out a different booking tool if this one doesn’t suit your needs.
If it’s not a concern related to using new tech, but more so, how it may be perceived by your clients, you may wonder how to position this to a client when they request a call. The aim is to be professional and courteous and to highlight that this method will allow them to book a call efficiently. Here’s the language that I use, feel free to take it and make it your own:
“I’ll share my booking link here. Please feel free to book in at a time that’s convenient for you. Alternatively, please share your booking link or dates and times that work for you and we can go from there.”
Protecting your time is crucial to productivity and effectiveness as a business owner, and you shouldn’t let unexpected calls get in the way of getting things done!
Taking advantage of the scheduling resources we have available to us in combination with using time-blocking as a scheduling strategy, are the first steps to taking back control of our time and getting sh!t done!
Contact us here for info on our upcoming FREE workshop ‘Ditch the Overwhelm + Get Sh!t Done’ held this September. In this workshop, Moriah Bacus, Accountability Coach + Project Manager, will help you to put your own time blocking into place. You’ll learn how this strategy can help you put a new habit or activity into place and actually have it stick, plus other scheduling and habit-building tactics.