Do you want to increase productivity in your business? Have you ever tried using a default diary?
I know, I know, you’ve read article after article about productivity, giving you advice about making ‘To Do’ lists for this and downloading ‘Time saving’ apps for that and one of the most common tips given is to create a default diary. And do you do it? …..No.
I hear you. I’ve been there myself. You read these articles because you are up to your neck in work and don’t have time to sit down and create something that is not client orientated, so the tips go into the ‘one day’ pile.
You’re probably wondering if its even worth using up more of your precious time to read the rest of this article if youre just going to hear the same stuff again? But I can assure you, it WILL be worth it. Yes it does mean finding some extra time during your morning to put something together, but what I am about to share with you I actually did on a MONDAY MORNING! Busiest time of the week. Worst time to do anything other than client activities. Must be mad, right? I can honestly say it was worth every second as I got all that time back tenfold within the first two weeks.
So what did I do? Well first of all lets clarify what a default diary is for those that have been running their business on another planet and never heard of one. Then I will share how I adapted it to make the biggest difference to my business.
What Is A Default Diary?
A default diary is where you allocate slots in your diary for regular important activities that must be completed each week and unless there is an earthquake, nothing will deter you from them. This will include things like regular staff meetings, admin time, client calls etc. A sensible diary however, will never be completely full as there will always be some emergency or forgotten activity, so leaving spaces for these and new meeting requests prevents the plan going out of the window in the first week. So an average default diary will probably look something like this if you had a business selling particular products:-
This in itself can be far more effective than spending every day flying by the seat of your pants and getting to the end of the week exhausted, and realising you didn’t achieve half of what you wanted to. However, for some, even if you take the time to create one, you often stop following it after a short period. Why? Because you probably haven’t taken into account how you work at your best.
How Do You Identify How You Work At Your Best?
I was fortunate enough to meet Sheryl Andrews of Step by Step Listening and with her expertise and Wealth Dynamics profiling, she highlighted how my personality and traits work at their best and the areas of my business this includes. It also highlighted my weaker areas where I may need more support. The results surprised me as I had never looked at it that way before. I assumed as a business owner I had to juggle all aspects of the business and therefore I was a good ‘All-rounder’, probably the same as you are thinking now? It helped me to realise where I let distractions get in the way, naturally during tasks that I didn’t enjoy or I found more difficult. Whereas, other areas of my business I could happily spend hours working on and made great progress. If this rings any bells with you, I highly recommend you arrange a one-to-one with her and have your Wealth Dynamics profile done. It will be a game-changer!
CLICK HERE to arrange a complimentary 60 minute call with Sheryl and find out more.
How Did I Adapt My Default Diary?
Being a creative person I enjoy creating visuals for clients and writing helpful blogs and eBooks. However I noticed that when doing the tasks I dread like admin and finances, I was easily distracted, so I built my default diary around this knowledge. I set aside time every day for Creativity and scheduled Admin and accounts for Friday morning's when all other activities were completed for the week.
A successful default diary is not just about scheduling particular activities, it should also take into consideration the type of activity to ensure your day is balanced. Enjoying your work will always help you to stay positive and productive as you are less likely to lose focus.
The Most Effective Way To Create Your Default Diary
The most effective way I have found, is to get a piece of flipchart paper and divide it into the working days. Then take a pad of ‘Post-It’ notes and write one activity you need to complete regularly and make sure you include everything from lunch to filing, to writing up proposals. Then place each ‘Post-It’ note under the day you feel they need to be completed. For example, as a Facebook Manager I need to schedule client posts for their Facebook business pages, So this goes in the beginning of the week. We also update our charity sponsor page (Born Free) twice a week with their latest news, so logically we need two entries, one early in the week and one later.
Now take a step back and look at the big picture. I bet most of them are in the beginning of the week, right? Yep, me too. This instantly puts you on the back foot and makes you feel like you are playing catch up all week. So now ask yourself one question for each activity. ‘What would happen if that didn’t happen that day?’ You may feel that some jobs can’t be moved to later in the week. If this is the case, ask yourself another question ‘What is stopping me carrying out that activity at the end of the previous week?’ Often, the answer is that it would actually make Mondays far more manageable!
Before you know it, you have spread your workload over the whole week and life doesn’t feel so hectic anymore. While doing this, be mindful that you ensure there is at least one activity each day that you enjoy, often at the end of the day so you finish your work on a high.
Now block out sections in your diary for each, allocating a realistic time period to complete them. I recommend using a digital diary i.e. Outlook or Google Calendar so that you can set reminders to pop up and keep you on track.
The final result will look something like this:
I have colour coded mine into activity types to see clearly the type of work I am doing when. As you can see, it’s obvious where the spaces are to book for meetings and appointments. Before you think ‘strange timeline’ Our online diaries are set to UK time as we have mainly UK clients and it’s easier to schedule meetings in the same time zone.
Taking It A Step Further
What made the BIG difference for me was creating a wall sized Default Diary with an A4 sheet for each day and colour coding the ‘type’ of activity on there also, as a constant reminder of the variety I have each day. This version of the default diary is perfect for those that don't spend all day on a computer, as you can see your plan clearly.
What you can then do is add ‘Post-It’ notes to the more general activities with specific tasks for that week. For example, the creative time on my diary is for image creation, eBooks, Training and Blogs, but I may have a specific set of images I need to create. I also have a section for Client Monthly Reports and I can add a note to say which clients are due that week. It works great! This is how it looks:
Although this activity took me a total of 3 hours of a VERY busy Monday morning, I found myself being far more focussed on the task at hand and the pop-up reminders from Outlook helped to keep my timing on track too. By the time I got to the end of the week, I found I even had time to start looking at a new product idea that I wanted to introduce to the business! I was no longer distracted and started to even enjoy the more mundane tasks as there was a real sense of achievement. In just two weeks of working to this diary, I have managed to create a draft of a new product, the sales page to go with it, including payment gateway and email integration and an eBook – ‘The Facebook Ads Winning Recipe’! All in addition to the normal weekly activities, none of which I had time to even think about before.
So, if you truly want your business to grow and be in better control of your working week, don’t use the excuse ‘I haven’t got time to spend 3 hours doing that!’ Ask yourself a different question – ‘Can I afford NOT to do this for my business?’
Do you have a default diary? What tips have you tried that have help you? We would love to hear your feedback in the comments below.
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This is Suzii, signing out till next time. Have a great day everyone!