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Diary Management Skills – 7 Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs

Catherine from SPA Business Support

As any professional will know, time is a valuable commodity and it must be managed wisely. Often, entrepreneurs are required to work on numerous tasks or projects at once and this can result in demanding schedules and time-sensitive conflicts.

Dealing with investors, media and clients, as well as running the business and taking on new staff can leave entrepreneurs with very little free time. Whilst an existing company may have the resources to hire additional in-house personnel, building a business can be the busiest time for entrepreneurs.

Due to this, it’s essential that diaries are managed properly. Entrepreneurs who are struggling to find enough hours in the day may notice that a few key changes to their diary management releases a significant amount of time.

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Here are 7 of the best diary management skills to help busy entrepreneurs:

1. Plan your diary in advance

Last-minute meetings or urgent calls will always crop up, but planning your diary in advance will ensure that everything else is scheduled. Although you’ll need to add events to your calendar on a daily basis, taking a few minutes to plan your diary at the start of each week can help you to visualise what the next seven days will entail.

Following this, you can schedule additional meetings, conferences, or calls at times that are appropriate for you.

In addition to providing a clear line-of-sight for the days ahead, effective diary management details a clear agenda and objective for every meeting or appointment scheduled that week. Your time is valuable, after all – and there is nothing worse than gazing upon a meeting scheduled in your calendar and forgetting why it’s there in the first place!

You need to leverage your time, and that means you cannot afford to be attending poorly run meetings … or meetings that you’re unprepared for due to lack of appropriate diary management.

2. Take advantage of colour codes

Most professionals rely on electronic or online diary management and this offers many advantages. Easy to update and accessible from anywhere, online calendars ensure that you can always check what’s coming up.

It’s important to get the most out of diary management software and there’s bound to be numerous features you’re not using. Colour coding your engagements can be an extremely useful way to organise your diary.

Highlighting different types of engagements in varying colours means that you can see what events are approaching, just by glancing at your diary. Meetings with potential investors, conferences with in-house colleagues and even important family events can be categorised so that you’re able to recognise them instantly, rather than having to read through your daily list of appointments.

When colour-coding your diary, try to match your natural working style with your commitments. If you’re not a morning person, why schedule important affairs before you’ve had a cup (or three) of coffee? If you realise you’re the type of professional who prefers a quiet Friday afternoon, your schedule should be set up to reflect events, meetings and commitments that align with your productivity high points.

3. Factor in breaks

Unfortunately, entrepreneurs often find it hard to switch off and don’t usually take as many breaks as they should. Over time, this can have a negative effect on their professional lives, as well as their health and well-being.

In addition to the various commitments, meetings, appointments and workflow oversight required in a day, juggling important information regarding future events of the same nature – and with the same unyielding frequency – can turn out to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back if left unchecked. 

This is one of many reasons why virtual or remote assistants have become a popular addition to the workforce. Offboarding this aspect of your daily routine can pay dividends that go beyond the obvious time freed up for work tasks – provided you take some of the newly-freed-up time for yourself.

Regardless of who is managing your diary, it’s vital to include regular breaks and time away from the office. In addition to factoring a daily lunch break into your diary, for example, you may need to include specific days off.

While taking regular breaks might sound counterproductive when it comes to boosting productivity, it's one of the best ways to do so.

4. Collate as many details as possible

When adding something to your diary, don’t be tempted to simply note down vague details. Whilst you might have additional information stored in your head, it can be difficult to recall it at a later date.

For example, rather than simply diarising a meeting with a specific person, you’ll need to make a note of where the meeting is to be held; the topic (including any preparation that might be required); any other attendees; the nature of the meeting and the contact details of the host.

These built-in reminders go beyond simple scheduling detail. By filling in the relevant information alongside an already busy diary littered with appointments, you'll create a sense of built-in relief when opening the page to what could otherwise amount to a sea of context-less time obligations. 

Whilst you may have the information elsewhere, adding these details to your diary means that you can access it quickly and easily, should you need to.

It is also a good idea to consider syncing your diary with your inbox. This is especially effective if you outsource your diary management to a remote personal assistant, as they can easily navigate between your calendar and inbox to ensure line-of-sight into any conflicting events, and ensure the necessary parties for a big meeting are accurately informed ahead of time. 

This simple addition will save countless time otherwise lost when cross-referencing your different touchpoints in order to lock down meeting times or appointments.

5. Use your time wisely

When you’re arranging events or planning recurring meetings, it’s vital to be aware of other engagements. For example, if you are arranging two out-of-office meetings you may want to schedule them on the same day, at nearby locations. This can cut down on your travel time and ensure that you aren’t left idle between events.

Similarly, determine whether face-to-face meetings can be changed to phone calls, or even video conferencing. Often this cuts down on the time a discussion takes but still enables you to achieve the same results.

Read more about how you can use your time wisely in our complete guide to diary management.

6. Back-up your diary

Once you implement all of your diary management skills, you’ll realise just how useful your diary is. In fact, most entrepreneurs and professionals would struggle to operate without a properly managed diary.

It’s vital, therefore, that your calendar is properly backed up, in case there is an electronic or internet issue. Unfortunately, this can happen all too frequently and you risk losing anything you haven’t secured.

Having a data recovery plan and keeping your diary backed up via cloud computing, for example, ensures that you can access the document from wherever you are and that you aren’t solely reliant on hardware. If a hard drive or server fails, it could delete crucial data, but if it’s also stored virtually, you’ll be able to access a back-up instantaneously.

7. Get professional help with diary management

Organising a diary is no easy feat, particularly for a busy entrepreneur. Whilst it may be tempting to overlook the management of your calendar when you have so many other tasks to do, but this can result in you missing important events, being ill-prepared and losing crucial time.

By accessing professional remote help with diary management, however, you can ensure that your engagements are managed effectively and that your time is put to good use. Often, the additional time gained by having a well-organised diary means that entrepreneurs are able to spend more time at home or commit to additional professional endeavors.

An experienced PA, for example, will have specific expertise when it comes to diary management. By allowing an accredited professional to manage this aspect of your career, you’ll benefit from their experience and you should notice that your engagements are more streamlined. As well as building a cohesive diary for you on a regular basis, using a professional PA will enable you to do what you do best – sourcing new investors, liaising with the press, increasing new revenue and, ultimately, building your businesses.

The skill associated with effectively coordinating diary appointments and obligations may not be amongst the first credentials you'd list on your resume. A virtual executive assistant, on the other hand, certainly would – so why not leave the heavy lifting to the professionals?

When outsourcing your diary management requirements, you can also gain assistance in other areas. By using a highly trained, virtual PA, for example, you could also access help with email management, call handling, documentation and research. Whilst it may not be viable for an entrepreneur to hire in-house staff to complete these tasks, outsourcing your business or administrative needs will allow you to focus on the more crucial aspects of your business.

How SmartPA can support

Delegate your to-do list to our expert virtual PAs and streamline your business costs. Join over 3000 businesses who use our services to ensure their administrative tasks are completed accurately and on time.

The advantages of a SmartPA virtual administrative assistant go beyond effective diary management. In addition to the increases in productivity you’ll enjoy, there are significant cost benefits associated with onboarding a remote assistant.

In the U.K., a full-time employee is entitled to 28 days off per year, in addition to the time missed for sick days and other unforeseeable circumstances that may arise. Paid time off not only affects your bottom line, but it delays productivity that a never-absent employee would otherwise accomplish. With SmartPA solutions, you’ll have access to a team of remote professionals who are available everyday that your business operates. 

Every business relishes the concept of a never-sick, never-vacationing employee. With a managed VA service solution, this dream is a reality. The operating costs saved by tasking your diary management responsibilities to a virtual assistant add to your bottom line over the course of a calendar year – to say nothing of constant business day oversight into your important affairs and documents!

The tasks a remote personal assistant can tackle go far beyond a traditional telephone answering service. Our team of experienced professionals leverages the latest diary management software with years of experience in order to create bespoke solutions for your booking, event, and time management needs.

Getting the right person to support your business does not need to be difficult and costs less than you think. Get in touch today.

We have also released our "Complete Guide to Diary Management" which is jam-packed full of tips on how to maximise your employees' time, stay on top of invitations and never miss appointments again. 


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