“The most precious resource we all have is time.” — Steve Jobs
Ah, time. If only we could get more of it. The constant battle between your calendar notifications and the hustle to accomplish activities during the day sometimes feels like juggling flames (notice the calm of the guy in the middle?! Talk about trust.).
Day in and day out, meeting after meeting, who hasn’t been bombarded with impromptu meetings that could have been an email?
Don’t get us wrong, meetings need to happen — but they should be impactful. Agendas, facilitator, note taker, and next steps for ownership to implement the changes are all things that should happen so everyone is prepared and engaged. Everyone learns differently and has different work styles, which is why we’ve compiled some ways our team has learned to balance and manage time based on preferences.
Here are seven strategies to squeeze more time out of your day and focus on the things that really matter.
1. Block Fridays for internal work only with no external meetings
It’s amazing how much work you can truly get done when you protect your schedule. By blocking external meetings on Fridays, you get:
- Dedicated focus time to get caught up on tasks that may have fallen through the cracks during the week
- Time to focus on education and personal development
- Time to simply get organized for the upcoming week
This helps you enter the weekend with a more restful mindset and start Monday ahead of the curve!
2. Book a day (full 8 hours) a month for BHAG, 10,000 foot view planning
At least eight hours a month of dedicated, undisturbed time to review monthly and quarterly goals, annual progress, and strategic thinking. Whether it is a leadership team meeting or working solo sessions, it’s imperative that you remain focused on both your short-term objectives and big picture goals .
TIP: We highly recommend a framework such as Scaling Up in conjunction with a software to keep track of progress such as Align.
3. Limit time spent multitasking
For those industries that handle high volume of calls while also spending time on execution, grouping these different activities can help your brain focus and be more efficient. Neuroscientists say multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of your brain. Here’s an excerpt from this insightful article that may give you room for pause:
“Gloria Mark, professor in the department of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, says that when people are interrupted, it typically takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to their work.”
Take the challenge for one day to count how many times you are interrupted, and try to refocus those interruptions to the appropriate time blocks, continue to work on reducing your number of distractions and see your productivity increase.
4.Short bursts: Block time morning/ afternoon for half of the day to focus on one type of activity
In the same article, Daniel Levitin, professor of behavioral neuroscience at McGill University believes that technology can help protect against its own distractions, such as software interfaces that force users to take breaks every couple of hours. And when it comes to long-term projects, Levitin says you should spend 25 minutes to two hours working on the project at a time. If you attempt to multitask and spend less than 25 minutes on a challenging task, then, “you’re barely getting warmed up before you quit.”
In practice, try to block time on your calendar to focus on specific activities that need your undivided attention. You can do this by blocking time in the morning or afternoon as seen below,
or by alternating activity block types by day.
5. Minimize non-productive tasks
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, we spend 28 percent of our workweeks reading, writing or responding to email. So how do we determine the things that are role specific and add value? The goal is to minimize non-productive, non-value-add tasks that can be solved with Wiki or Knowledge Base, training videos, group chat etc. Leaning into collaboration tools to support the questions that don’t directly correlate with role productivity and using these tools as overarching resource libraries. Check out HubSpot’s knowledge base here.
Drastically reduce the volume of emails and slack questions by having a self-serve or chatbot-served library of common FAQs, freeing you up to focus on your priority tasks.
Bonus Tip: Color Code Your Google Calendar!
Did you know you can now color code your Google calendar? Some examples of color codes for our calendars are:
- Client meeting
- Team meeting
- Meeting pre/ post follow up
- Execution of task
- Company culture
- Morning huddle
- 1-1 coaching
- Lunch breaks
6. Use a HubSpot calendar to manage your open meeting slots
It’s free and easy to use! Eliminate back and forth with your internal team, prospects and clients on picking a time that works for everyone! Get the free calendar here.
Select a single person's calendar or round robin between a sales team. Need to have multiple people on your team join a meeting? Create a shared link that looks at both calendars and serves up times that overlap for both people that the prospect can select!
Select length of time, what qualifying questions to ask before someone can book a meeting and many more features! Here’s how to customize your calendar.
Keep reading: How to Book More Meetings With the HubSpot Meetings Tool
7. Add personal time to your calendar
Check out our First Friday program where we close down the office the first Friday of every month to focus on wellbeing.
Make sure you plan for both daily, weekly, monthly and annual fun. Whether that be self care (meditation, exercise, journaling, reading), travel, or just connecting with friends or family. We don’t want to ever have regrets of “I wish I did that”. For all the care and time we spend on using a work calendar, what if we took as much time and thought to plan for living a full and balanced life?
Still not sure what to do? Here’s some things our team has done on First Friday to make sure they get in fun every month:
- Mountain biking
- Visiting grandparents
- Spa time
- Beach days
- Reading in a hammock
- Lunch dates
- Trying new recipes
- Picnics in the park
- Mini golf
- Go to the movies
- Festive theme parties
- Pumpkin picking
- Going to the dog park
Final Takeaway Tips:
- Set up a free HubSpot calendar to easily offer calendar availability during your blocks. Here is how to set it up.
- Set up notifications fo focus time in your social tools like Slack or Teamwork chat when you are away
- Set up recurring meeting blocks
- Determine what constitutes as a team an “emergency”
- Automatically sync your Google Meet, Zoom or other meeting tool to your calendar scheduler to save time
Test and adjust, be flexible and patient with yourself and your team — it can be a big adjustment! Times of year, cycles in your business, seasons, workload, all of which have an impact on how realistic each of these is to implement. There is no one size fits all. The goal is to find balance to be able to spend more time on the things that have the most impact and more time to enjoy life!