How to make your planner your friend

Despite a recent mini-rant about how “productivity-enhancing” tools and technology can actually decrease your productivity, I do acknowledge that certain tools, used properly, can be an enormous amount in growing your business.  A case in point is whatever you use as a calendar or scheduling tool.

Whether you use one of the latest Dick Tracy-like “watches” or a four-pound Franklin Planner, it’s obviously essential to keep track of commitments and activities.  Here are some ways you can ensure you’re making the best use of whatever tool works best for you.

Schedule recurring events for the entire year.

 If you know a very useful networking group meets the second Tuesday of every month, take a few minutes to block out that time from now until the end of the year.  This is simplicity itself, even for those of us who are somewhat technologically challenged, with most smartphones.

Have all important information in one spot.

It’s not enough to note the date of a recurring meeting.  You also get to make sure you have the location and directions (if needed) in your planner.  Better yet, include a phone number for the contact person so you can call if your GPS somehow leads you astray.

Set aside time dedicated solely to business development.

This is one of the most critical success factors for ongoing growth.  Too often, even successful entrepreneurs get so caught up working with clients (i.e., working in the business) that they neglect to do ongoing marketing to ensure they have clients in the future (i.e., work on the business).  Schedule time for business development!!

I know many small-business owners who put a higher emphasis on client work than they do on business development, and in many ways this makes sense.  After all, your current clients are the ones helping you do little things like pay the rent or mortgage.

On the other hand, do you really want to spend your business life on a revenue rollercoaster?  You know what I mean: When you’re busy with existing clients, you have no time to market and get new prospects in the pipeline, which means that when you’re done with current clients you have no more revenue coming in but do have a lot of time for marketing, which means your pipeline gets full, and you get so busy serving clients that you have no time to market….You get the idea.

Time to get off the rollercoaster!  Schedule business development activities, track down an accountability partner to ensure that you do the work you say you’re going to do, and consider moving to a different venue, like a library study room or a local co-working space, to do this development work.  I find this type of change in venue improves my focus; you might experience the same benefit.

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So what planning tools and practices have you found to be most helpful in staying on top of important activities without losing your sanity?  Please share here; new success strategies are always welcome!

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