Diary Management Tips For The Thriving Busy Professional

by | Jan 1, 2023 | Productivity


What is diary management

Diary management is the process of planning, organising, and maintaining a schedule of appointments, tasks, and events. It involves keeping track of deadlines, meetings, and other commitments in a way that ensures nothing is overlooked or forgotten. Effective diary management can help professionals stay on top of their workload, prioritise tasks, and allocate their time efficiently.

Diary management can be done using different tools, such as physical planners or digital calendars, and it often involves the use of time management techniques such as time blocking or prioritisation. Good diary management allows professionals to have a clear understanding of their priorities, minimise distractions and interruptions, and stay focused on important tasks.

Overall, diary management is an essential skill for anyone who wants to be productive and successful in their professional or personal life.


Why diary management is important

If you want to make sure you get everything done on time, having a well-managed work diary is a must-have. Whether you prefer to use Outlook, Google Calendar, or another tool, keeping your schedule up-to-date can help you stay on top of all your tasks and deadlines. Instead of trying to juggle multiple to-do lists or post-it notes, a well-organised diary can bring all your important information together in one convenient place.

But the benefits of diary management go beyond just keeping you organized. Your diary is also an important resource for your team members, who can use it to see when you’re available and when you’re busy. This can help them plan their own schedules more effectively, ensuring that they can collaborate with you when you’re free and avoid scheduling conflicts.

In today’s fast-paced work environment, effective diary management is a key skill for anyone who wants to be successful. So, take the time to find a system that works for you, whether it’s a physical planner, a digital calendar, or a combination of both. By staying organised and keeping your schedule up-to-date, you can maximise your productivity, minimise stress, and achieve your goals with greater ease.


Improves your customer services reputation

Sharing your diary also means you can improve your customer service. If a potential client calls when you are out of the office, a team member can confidently book a convenient time for a meeting between you and the customer, providing a slick and impressive operation.


Make the most of the time & prioritise

Diary management can help you to make the most efficient use of your time. By carefully planning your day, you can ensure that you have enough time to complete all of your tasks. It also helps you to prioritise your tasks and make sure that the most important items are given the appropriate amount of attention. Finally, diary management can help you to keep track of deadlines and ensure that you are meeting all of your commitments.


Create a healthier work-life balance

Diary management is one of the most important tools you can use to create work-life balance. By keeping track of your commitments, and scheduling time for yourself, you can ensure that you have enough time for both work and play. Diary management can help you to avoid overbooking yourself, and leaving yourself feeling overwhelmed. It can also help you to identify areas where you need more support, such as childcare or housekeeping. By taking the time to manage your diary, you can ensure that you have the time you need to live a balanced life.


What to schedule in your work diary

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Multiple possible dates

Good diary management means keeping appointments updated as soon as you discover the details. If a client offers multiple possible dates for a meeting, book the time out for each option. This means no one can double book you after you have responded to the customer with the dates that work for you. Once a final date is set, you can delete other options, freeing up your diary.


Include preparation time

Take time every week to review the entries on your calendar for the next seven days. You may have booked the time in for a meeting, phone call or job interview, but have you allowed time for the necessary prep work? If you have any action items, allow yourself time before the event to complete them and ensure you are prepared. Without this time in your diary, you could find yourself overrun with other jobs and go into events feeling like you are not as ready as you could be. It is also a good idea to take a moment to perform a quick review of your calendar every morning to ensure that the items you felt were priorities are still the most important tasks on your plate.


Add appointment locations

If the diary is well managed, you can utilise all manner of efficiency-boosting tactics. For example, if you have a meeting in a particular town already booked in, you can schedule appointments with nearby clients on the same day to prevent unnecessary travel. If your diary is not up-to-date, you might miss this quick win.


Your diary is not accurate without travel times

If you do travel for appointments, remember to bear this in mind when you block out the time. Always add your travelling time before and after the meeting or event. If you’re based in London but are attending a conference in Manchester at 2pm, your colleagues and clients need to know that you will not be available in the capital after 11am. If your diary is badly managed and only has you down as busy from 2pm, you could find yourself being committed to being in two places at the same time.   Always add your travelling time before and after the meeting or event. Click To Tweet


Schedule follow-up meetings

Scheduling a follow-up meeting as soon as you finish an initial appointment with a client helps you focus on delivering the action points. Invite all of the attendees so everyone can start planning their time in order to be able to update the group by that date. This helps keep the momentum going with the work that you discuss and allows you to organise your diary in the most effective manner.


Block out time to check your emails

Block out a chunk of time to spend working through your emails. This allows you to be free to get stuck into your other tasks without distractions at all other times. That ping that comes with a new mail can instantly break your train of thought when you are trying to concentrate on other jobs and you can easily forget where you were going if you stop, head to your email app, and read and reply to the message in the middle of a task. With a set time for dealing with emails, this diary management tip allows you to plough through them in one go and be free to dedicate yourself wholly to the important jobs of the day beyond that.

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Create outlook reminders, always be prepared

Use the ‘Reminders’ function to stay ahead of deadlines. Discovering you have to complete a major report in a week’s time is far preferable to only remembering it needs to be in an hour before the cut-off time.


Add personal date reminders

You can also add in personal birthday and anniversary information, as these are the sorts of dates that can easily slip your mind when you are concentrating on making a success of your business. To manage the diary effectively, you can separate these items from the pressing work engagements, as well as distinguishing between meetings, courses, deadlines and other items by colour coding them. In need of some inspiration.


Only schedule necessary meetings

It is easy to fall into the habit of always scheduling a string of meetings for each project you work on, but when you look at your diary, do you really have time to block out time for meetings on every single topic? The fact is that meetings are not always helpful. Sometimes they achieve great results, but sometimes you could have reached the same conclusion just by collaborating on a Google Doc. Ask yourself whether a meeting is really the best, most effective and efficient course of action to get the job done. Often diary management is about what not to schedule as well as what to schedule.


Schedule your peak productivity times

Every person has a different optimum time in the day when they are at their most productive. Some people know that it is just before dawn, while others find themselves energised after lunchtime snacks and drinks! If you know what time of day works best for getting things done at record speed without distractions from meetings or other obligations, schedule it and avoid meetings during this time. This is time to get ‘stuff’ done.


Track where your time is going 

You know what they say “time is money”. Save yourself some valuable minutes by using a time tracking tool! There are a few out there that will serve you well, we have personally used Clockify and Toggl. Using these digital tools helps manage and analyse your productivity. They let you see when and where all of those little distractions happen and where your time is going, which in turn helps improve your focus!


Good diary management starts with colour codes

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Colour code using automatic conditional formatting

Conditional Formatting automatically colour codes your Outlook calendar items based on certain words you use, helping you to manage your diary. If you have Outlook 2007 or earlier, it’s called Automatic Formatting. Here’s how you use Conditional Formatting:

  1. From the Calendar window, use the ‘View’ tab and choose the ‘View Settings’ button in the group marked ‘Current View’. From there, choose ‘Conditional Formatting.
  2. Press ‘Add’ in order to create a new category of appointments.
  3. Pick a name for the category (eg. ‘Meeting’, ‘Training Course’ etc.)
  4. Select a colour for the category.
  5. Press ‘Condition’.
  6. On the ‘Appointments and Meetings’ tab enter the word you intend to use in the entry that will trigger the colour change. This will also probably be ‘Meeting’, ‘Training Course’ etc.
  7. Press ‘OK’.
  8. Repeat the process for each different category you wish to colour code.


Manually colour code outlook calendar items

You can also colour code your outlook items manually, as you input them into your diary.

Here’s how it works:

  1. From the Calendar view, right-click on an appointment.
  2. Hover over ‘Categorise’ until a choice of colours appears to the right.
  3. Select the colour you wish to use for the type of appointment.


Use naming conventions when adding an event

When adding events to your calendar, using naming conventions can help you stay organised and make it easier to find specific events later. By adopting a consistent naming convention, you can quickly identify the purpose and nature of each event, whether it’s a meeting, deadline, or personal appointment.

For example: You could use a specific prefix for each type of event (such as “MTG” for meetings, “DL” for deadlines, or “APT” for appointments) followed by a brief description of the event.

This can help you quickly scan your calendar and prioritise your time based on the nature and urgency of each event. Overall, adopting a naming convention can save you time, reduce confusion, and make your calendar more effective as a planning tool.


Managing interruptions and distractions

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One effective strategy for managing interruptions and distractions is to set aside dedicated periods of time for focused work, also known as “deep work” sessions. During these sessions, turn off notifications and eliminate potential distractions, such as social media, email, and instant messaging. If possible, find a quiet, secluded space where you can work without interruption.

It’s also important to communicate your availability to others. Let coworkers, family members, or roommates know when you will be working and ask them to avoid interrupting you during those times unless it’s an emergency. If you do get interrupted, try to quickly assess the urgency of the matter, and determine whether it can wait until your focused work session is over. If it’s something that requires your immediate attention, deal with it quickly and get back to your task as soon as possible.

Remember that managing interruptions and distractions is an ongoing process, and it takes practice and discipline to stay focused and productive. Be patient with yourself and keep experimenting with different strategies until you find what works best for you.


The role of technology in diary management

Diary management has become an essential aspect of our daily lives, and technology has made it easier than ever to keep track of our schedules. With the help of various tools and apps, scheduling and productivity have been greatly enhanced. Here are a few top tools and apps for scheduling and productivity:


Google Calendar: Allows users to schedule events, set reminders, and share calendars with others.

Trello: A project management tool that allows users to manage tasks, set deadlines, and collaborate with team members.

Asana: Similar to Trello, Asana is a project management app that allows users to manage tasks, set deadlines, and collaborate with team members.

RescueTime: A productivity app that tracks the amount of time users spend on different applications and websites, providing insights on how to improve focus and productivity.


Get assistance with your diary management

Diary management can be a time-consuming and frustrating task, especially if you’re trying to do it yourself. By outsourcing your diary management to a professional service, you can free up your time to focus on more important things.

A good diary management service will keep track of your appointments, meetings, and deadlines, and will make sure that you’re always where you need to be. They’ll also handle rescheduling and cancellations, so you don’t have to worry about it. In addition, a professional service can provide valuable insights into your schedule, and can offer suggestions on how to improve your time management.

If you’re struggling to keep on top of your Diary Management, outsourcing it to a professional service is a great solution.


Delegate your diary management to Supportal

When you’re juggling a million different tasks, it’s easy to forget about the management of your calendar. But this can result in missed appointments and lost time! That is why having an expert handle all aspects from start to end will make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.

Supportal can manage your diary on your behalf. Make sure you always hit deadlines, you know when team members are free, and that your calendar is easy to digest at all times. Contact us to find out how we can help make your business as efficient as possible through effective diary management.


FREEBIE: Colour Coded Calendar Guide

To help you implement our tips we have created a PDF giving you the steps you need to colour code your calendar with ease.

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