Scheduling apps help eliminate the back-and-forth emails for finding the perfect time to connect, but they do so much more, including helping to increase productivity.
Below, 13 business leaders share their favorite scheduling app hacks they use to help improve their productivity.
1. Try a Color-Coding Feature
"I use different colors for different types of tasks, such as work meetings, personal errands, and deadlines. This allows me to easily tell what type of task I'm looking at when I glance over my schedule.
"Having a visual representation of my tasks helps me stay organized and prioritize what needs to be done. I also use this hack for recurring tasks, so that I can easily identify the tasks that come up on a regular basis and make sure those get taken care of first. Color-coding my calendar is an effective way for me to keep track of all my commitments in a productive manner."
2. Set a Schedule for Retrospection
"Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, and retrospection keeps this from happening. Instead of staying on the same path, look back on the results you've had in the past and make some changes.
"Retrospection is about understanding that there is always room for improvement, and this is the case with productivity, too. Reflect on how you spent time poorly in the past, either through distractions or inefficient methods. Then look to curtail your distractions and improve your methods.
"Eventually, you will become more productive if you keep an open mind about where you could have done better in the past. Set a schedule for retrospection, where you review past results on a weekly or monthly basis. Program retrospection into your calendar, and spend time sharpening your saw on a regular basis."
3. Pre-Tune Calendar Links to Time Zone, Priority, and Urgency
"In my Calendly profile, I have about 5-8 schedules depending on the business period. There are two reasons this is critical to my workflow.
"First, it allows me to push the vast majority of meetings into certain blocks during the day, leaving me without random gaps. Second, it's useful for a global workforce and customer base.
"Minimally, I have links for U.S., Europe, and Asia schedules. In addition, I have different schedules depending on priority, urgency, internal, and external meetings. Almost no one receives a link to the "My Calendly" base page. They will always receive a link that is tuned to their time zone and the priority and urgency of the meeting."
4. Rely on Automated Text and Email Reminders
"When it comes to scheduling, you don't want to constantly remind people that your meeting is about to take place. At the same time, you don't want the person on the other end not to show up.
"I don't make the phone number field mandatory, but it seems like most people are happy to put their numbers in anyway. I love this app hack because it means I don't need to log into my emails or phone and remind people, and can get on with my work day. But I'm still confident that the person has had enough reminders. I rarely get people not showing up to meetings now because of this."
5. Combine Platforms
"After someone books a meeting, Zapier automates a lot of small actions that I would be responsible for. For example, a prospect is added to an email sequence with pre-call information they need to consume before we meet. Next, Zapier creates a record in our CRM, or an existing record is changed to “Call Schedule.” I also push all of the information I've collected from the booking form into a Slack notification channel as part of our “make data public by default” approach to remote work."
6. Block Time, Use Music, and Stop Striving for Perfect
"One of the best hacks I've discovered is the power of muscle memory and conditioning my brain to go into focus mode. By blocking time on my calendar in advance, it allows me to keep that free for deep work, and I can also schedule it at the time when my energy is most high.
Set a schedule for retrospection, where you review past results on a weekly or monthly basis. Program retrospection into your calendar, and spend time sharpening your saw on a regular basis.
—Dennis Consorte, digital marketing and leadership consultant for startups, Snackable Solutions
"I also use an app called Focus at Will that features scientifically proven tracks to improve focus. With these two triggers, I've conditioned myself to higher levels of productivity, regardless of the work being done in those sessions.
"In addition, I set a timer during those blocks to get a specific task done, which helps me resist the urge to make everything perfect and challenges me to focus on execution."
7. Create Tasks from Emails
"I like the ability to create tasks from emails within Microsoft Outlook. So many of my to-do items originate from an email. With MS Outlook, I am able to quickly drag the email to my task icon and create an item on my to-do list.
"This prevents me from missing important tasks that would get lost in my email. I am able to click on my task icon and see all the to-dos. I can set priorities and deadlines, which will generate reminders to ensure I don't miss important deadlines."
8. Use Text Shortcuts
"I use an app called TextExpander to create keystroke shortcuts to automatically generate the Calendly URL. With just four keystrokes, I have a full Calendly link that I can quickly summon in emails and messaging apps without having to hunt for the URL and use copy and paste. It saves so much time!"
9. Send Automated Emails for No-Shows
"If you've ever been in a situation where your lead doesn't show up on time, you know how frustrating it can be. If you're not careful, you could end up spending more time dealing with no-shows than actually getting your work done.
"Sending an automated message when a lead doesn't show up is simple but effective. The automated message asks them to reschedule their appointment so that you can focus on other people scheduled for their session. Next, you can even put on a filter that, if they don't reply in 24 hours, cancels their session automatically. So, if you still have a no-show, don't waste your time – automate the process for handling no-shows and save yourself some stress in the process!"
10. Merge Calendars
"As a project manager, meetings pop up randomly every day. To combat this, I've been using Calm Calendar. It merges my work and personal calendar so that I can block certain times (and keep them private). The main benefit is that I can integrate it with Calendly as well. Anyone who books a new meeting can only do so in availability across both calendars."
11. Ask Qualifying Questions
"We use Calendly's questions to screen prospects before a call to see if they're the right fit. The key is to ask qualifying questions about previous strategies, goals, and even budgets. If a prospect isn't a great fit, let them know and provide a few actionable tips they can use to better position their business for a more successful engagement later on.
"You can waste a lot of time on calls with unqualified leads. Finding out halfway through a call that a prospect isn't a good fit for your company can derail productivity on several levels. Asking the right (challenging) questions upfront ensures each call is meaningful."
12. Add a Custom Message to Every Invite
"With one quick addition to scheduling calls, I've made my meetings significantly more productive. When you book a meeting, you see the option to add a custom message – a feature most of us scroll by, especially if the recipient already knows the invitation is coming.
"I now always ask, "What can I prepare for this meeting?" in the custom message box so we can start the call with everything we need. It's led to more seamless meetings that accomplish what we set out to do faster!"
13. Put a Limit on Your Number of Meetings
"I recently found a great Calendly hack that has helped me stay more productive and organized. Limit the number of meetings you have in one day by setting a maximum number of meetings per day on your Calendly account.
This helps me set boundaries for myself and my time so I'm not spending too much time running from one Zoom call to another. Plus, any additional requests can be reserved for the next day. It's an incredibly useful hack that has improved my work-life balance significantly.
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