Save Time with Scheduling Tools
Rae is the Director of Happiness of Team Savvy. She's the founder of Productive Co., a company that helps businesses run efficiently and effectively. With a master's degree in operations management in tow, she eliminates bottlenecks, implements systems, and improves processes to optimize time, money, and energy for small businesses. She's the go-to gal for Dubsado set up and Pinterest management.
From one business owner to another: I know you are busy. You have a lot of hats to wear and a never-ending to-do list. Tools, systems, and automation exist to make your life easier. Take advantage of these opportunities and save time with scheduling tools.
Even as a solopreneur or product-based business owner working with team members or suppliers, scheduling tools will reduce the number of emails you send and receive. That means they can you save time– a limited resource we could all use more of. And remember, time is money, honey.
When it comes to scheduling apps, there’s a great debate out there: Acuity or Calendly? Both are great options, however, they are best suited for client self-scheduling. That means a client can look at your availability and choose a time that works for them. However, you likely need a variety of scheduling tools for different activities: organizing group meetings, planning our your own schedule, and managing tasks. A client self-scheduling tool just won’t do for these, so let’s dive in and see what tools you need to utilize. All of these tools listed have free versions, too.
Self-scheduling: Acuity or Calendly
If you are a service-based business owner, you will need to meet with your clients in person, on the phone, or over video chat at some point in time. I recommend all service-based business owners use a self-scheduler to simplify and speed up booking.
What do I mean? If a client sends you an email requesting an appointment, they have to wait for you to respond, then you have wait for them to confirm, etc. That results in several messages to complete one transaction and the process becomes drawn out.
Instead, send clients a link to your scheduling page and let them select the option that best works for them. It’s more convenient for both parties and reduces the number of emails exchanged.
Now, back to the great debate: Acuity or Calendly? It probably depends on what works best for your business, but they are both great tools. Frankly, it’s better you choose something over nothing.
Each of these tools allows you to create multiple appointment types of various session lengths. Save even more time by including meeting details and small intake form. For example, my clients to choose whether we meet over Skype, Zoom, or the phone and I provide my contact details for each option.
Self-scheduling tools also allow you to put limits on your availability, so you control what days and times you accept meetings. Furthermore, you can require appointments be booked no less and no more than specified times in advance. For example, I require appointments be booked no less than 24 hours in advance, but no more than 2 weeks in advance.
Here at Heather Crabtree Headquarters (Team Savvy if you’re sassy), we use Acuity’s Emerging Entrepreneur plan for our coaching clients. It’s a paid plan and we use it for a few reasons:
Two-way calendar sync
Acuity recognizes when you have other events on your calendar, preventing double-booking from occuring. Acuity also puts new appointments on your calendar, saving you the step of manually inputting the details. This works for Google, iCloud, Office 365, and Exchange.
Neither the free versions of Acuity or Calendly provide automated appointment reminders. The paid version of Acuity allows us to send out as many reminders as we want. We like to send out reminders 24 hours and 1 hour in advance, reducing the possibility our clients will forget an appointment.
Acuity’s integrations save us a lot of time by automating tasks. Automatically add new inquirers to your email list and Google Contacts. Require a payment upon booking via Stripe, Paypal, and Square. Record new transactions in Freshbooks or QuickBooks Online. Keep track of referrals. Automate even more with the Zapier integration.
Both Acuity and Calendly offer free versions that are plenty sufficient for basic scheduling. Keep in mind, the free versions may not have as many automation and integration features that you could benefit from. The less automation and integration, the more manual things will be on your end. Consider if the value of time you could save would outweigh the investment of a paid version.
Group scheduling: Doodle, NeedToMeet, or Vyte.In
One of the biggest time-wasters at any job is trying to coordinate a team meeting through group/mass email. This method leaves a lot of room for error and annoyance. If you are guilty of the this workplace sanity violation, I beg you to stop right now.
Acuity and Calendly are great for when one person needs to see another person’s availability. For group meetings, however, these tools aren’t the best because you need to see multiple people’s availability. Instead, use a tool specifically for coordinating group scheduling like Doodle, NeedToMeet, or Vyte.In.
These tools allow the organizer to select an array of times and share those time slots with their team. From there, everyone on the team shares their overlapping availability and the host selects a time that best suits everyone’s schedules.
Doodle, NeedToMeet, and Vyte.In keep group scheduling neat and tidy.
Schedule Sharing: Google Calendar
If you use Google Calendar, you can create multiple types of calendars and share them with designated people.
On Team Savvy, we keep an “Out-of-Office” calendar that is shared with all of our team members. I can mark off any days I’ll be out of the office and the rest of the team will see when I’m not available. It’s a nifty feature you should take advantage of.
Bonus: You can color-code each type of calendar to make things easy to process. You can also choose if you want to view all your calendars at once or just a few at a time.
Block Scheduling: Google Calendar
Productivity experts often tout the benefits of block scheduling. That means you designate chunks of time for types of activities. There are two main reasons productivity experts support block scheduling. The first is that you are deciding to make time for certain activities instead of hoping you’ll “find” time. Basically, if it’s not on your calendar, you might not get around to it. Secondly, every time we switch activities, it requires activation energy. Jumping back and forth between tabs requires you to spend time getting back into the “groove” of things. Research shows that multitasking is quite counterproductive. Constant interruptions to your focus prevents you from doing your best work.
For example, you could spend Mondays and Wednesdays between 9am-11am on marketing activities and reserve Fridays for admin work.
Bonus: You can color-code your activities, so you can see at a glance how much time you are spending on each type of activity.
Scheduling Projects & Due Dates: Asana or Trello
You need a designated space for assigning and keeping track of project due dates. For that, you should be using a project management software. Once again, if you are trying to delegate or assign tasks this via email or Slack, I beg you to stop. If you don’t, I’m going to call the Productivity Police on you.
Why? It requires an unnecessary amount of text exchanges. Also, that message can easily become lost in a string of text (as I like to call it, “The Text Vortex”). The goal is to save you time and sanity, so reduce the number of messages you receive and send. Assign and schedule tasks within a project management software where they can live in an organized fashion. Whenever you put a new task, make sure to assign a person to the task and a due date. No more scrolling through message after message trying to find a new assignment.
In summary, we love Acuity for self-scheduling, but you likely need more than one type of scheduling tool for your business. By utilizing these tools for different types of activities, you can streamline all of your scheduling. You’ll reduce digital clutter, reduce time spent in your inbox, and improve your productivity.
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