Do you own your calendar? Or does your calendar own you? I must admit that this is one area that I constantly have to work on. While I have come light years over the past few years, it is still an area that I find needs continual improvement.

If I can’t manage my time properly, I feel suffocated. I don’t really own the business, the business owns me. As we become more and more efficient with our practices, and as we build out operational procedures to streamline administrative activities, managing our calendar becomes the final step to creating the ideal practice.

So how do we begin creating a more manageable calendar? I am a big believer in grouping activities. The reality is that multi-tasking is not an efficient way to handle our tasks. When we jump from one task to another, all of our work becomes less efficient, and we constantly have to re-shift our focus throughout the day.

Email and phone calls

As an example, let’s start with email and phone calls. If you’re constantly checking emails throughout the day, you will be reacting to things that can distract you away from your other tasks. Instead, block time on your calendar to specifically check emails. I like to do this first thing in the morning, and again at the end of the day. Then, when I’m reviewing and responding to my emails, I don’t do anything else, and I close my office door and turn on “do not disturb” on my phone.

Likewise, I don’t answer calls constantly throughout the day. In order to function at peak productivity, I need to be able to focus completely on the task at hand. As an example, if I have blocked two hours on my calendar to do investment research and manage portfolios, I cannot allow phone calls to constantly distract me.

Instead, I have budgeted times to return phone calls. I can then move through the calls efficiently, because I don’t have any other distractions.

The three main activities

Managing our days requires a similar approach. We have three types of activities we perform in our jobs. One is meeting with clients. Two is working on the business, which includes strategic planning, marketing, money management, etc. And three is administrative support and running the office, which I try to delegate as much as possible.

I wish to block these activities separately. I don’t want to spend 30 minutes working on business planning, only to then have to have a client meeting, then meet with an employee, and then come back to finish my business planning. That makes all of my activity inefficient.

I have found that by grouping activity on my calendar, I can become much more efficient with my time. I can now view the business as an enhancement to my lifestyle, not a detriment.

For more from Jim Brogan, see:

How to “own your market”

How to build the right brand

What is your purpose?