- How do you currently use your calendar?
- What categories do you prioritize on your calendar?
- How often do you update them?
- Are there areas of your business where you feel you are just losing time?
Keep these answers close because over the next 5 weeks we are going to focus on 5 main areas of calendar planning: Client Time, Sales Time, Promotion Time, Networking Time and Personal Time. But you will want to use this process for other categories we don’t discuss and these answers will be critical to your success.
So take out your calendar- paper, electronic, wall, flipchart or blank piece of paper and get ready to plan! You cannot do this wrong and PLEASE whatever you do, don’t wait for the perfect calendar before you begin.
This week, we start with Client Time!
When I define “Client Time” I mean time spent in appointments with paying clients or time spent working on paying client projects- depending on your business model. Notice I said paying clients. This category is not about complimentary sessions, probono work or pre-work you are doing for clients in hope that they will sign with you.
Very clear cut, right?
Now here are a few questions that I want you to answer honestly.
- How many clients do you have currently?
- How many hours a month do you devote to each client?
- Is that broken into phone sessions, project sessions, in-person meetings or some other form of work time?
- How many clients is a “full practice” or “full slate”?
- Where is the gap?
You will want to plan your calendar for the number of clients you plan to have when you are at full capacity. NOT for the number you have now. Our goal is to block out time on your calendar to service those clients—all of those clients- even the ones you do not have yet. But first, a few more questions:
- What time of day is the best time to reach those clients? Daytime-evening-early morning?
- What part of the week is best? Weekdays, Weekends, Mondays?
- Are your clients spread out amongst many time zones?
- When do YOU like to speak to clients?
- When do you feel most focused and effective at your client work?
- Are their deadlines or meetings that have to be accounted for because they affect the client work?
At first you might need to try various combinations of time blocks to settle into the one that works best for you. In fact, I can guarantee that you will need to.
For example, early on in my business I put time on my calendar every day to work with clients. They were spread out throughout the week and I did not have enough clients to actually fill all the time. The result for me, and of course this is just for me, is that I felt unfocused. I never got on a roll. Now, I create chunks of time three days a week to speak to clients. When I am speaking to them, I am on a roll… talking about planning and strategy.
If you have client work to do- copywriting, project planning, graphic design, etc- choose a time when you can remain focused and ideally this is NOT time when you could be on the phone with potential clients or clients. (You’ll learn more on that next week.) I use the early mornings and block off a large chunk of time (ex: 6 am to 12 pm) a couple days a week based on how many projects I am tackling. From a creative standpoint, I am fresher in the morning, can work faster and more effectively and can get a lot done before my west coast clients ever hit their desks. For some of my entrepreneurial friends, they get started with all that creativity after dinner.
Tip: I put a little time between clients on my calendar in case I run over. But more importantly, so I can breathe a little and clear my head between each intense session. This was learned the hard way. Believe me! And it works wonderfully for client work in addition to appointments.
Tip: All that time you created for the full practice but are not using? No worries. Next week when we talk about “Sales Time” we will find a use for that time.