Once you give up control of your calendar, you wind up scrambling to keep appointments, bring on new clients, take care of yourself, and spend quality time with family and friends. Here are tips on how you can schedule yourself to accomplish everything you want, with no scrambling involved.

Plan by the week.

Many people just plan every day as they move through it, which is why they wind up with time management problems. Instead, plan an entire week—and do it before that week starts. This means you’ll know by Friday what you’ll be doing every day of the next week. Have a calendar meeting with the people in your life who count on you to be around, especially those outside your work. This lets you coordinate family commitments and other demands on your personal time, and keeps your personal relationships in a positive space.

Schedule the things that can’t be moved—and the fun things.

First, set up your schedule to protect the non-negotiables in your life, such as going to your children’s events, and making it home for dinner with the family. Once you’ve put into your calendar the things that cannot be moved, you can build your days around those priorities, so they won’t be negatively impacted.

You don’t want fun things to dominate your schedule, but don’t overlook then. Add to your calendar some things you enjoy, things that mean something to you. This helps you maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Schedule times for new business, meetings, and getting work done.

You spend time in your business in three key areas:

  • finding and following up on leads to develop the business;
  • meeting with prospects, customers, colleagues, and partners;
  • getting your work done—both the work that brings in revenue and the non-billable administrative activities that keep your operation functioning.

Put your lead generation work into your calendar to make sure it doesn’t get pushed aside for something else. Then, insert time blocks for your meetings. If you don’t know when some meetings will happen in the week ahead, add a meeting block to your calendar anyway. Reserve enough time to cover travel for meetings outside the office, and stick to your time blocks. This avoids getting stuck in those three- or four-hour meetings that take the control of your day away from you.

Next, make time for the work you do that generates the revenue coming into your business. Depending on your trade or profession, these activities will take up more or less time on your schedule. In most trades, for example, the time you spend generating revenue is also the time you spending meeting with the customer at the customer’s location. In the legal profession, most meeting time is billable work time. Some businesses require more time for paperwork, or for research into problem solving.

Finally, schedule time for all the administrative tasks that need to be done: billing and bookkeeping; phone calls to banks, utility companies, and insurers; record keeping; preparing for meetings with prospects and customers. All these things must be done, so they should be scheduled.

When you shift scheduled items, do not delete them.

No schedule is cast in concrete. Things come up that cause other things to be shifted. Meetings may be cancelled, people may be unavailable, deliveries may be delayed. Plus, new opportunities can emerge, such as when you hear from a prospect out of the blue. Whatever causes your schedule to change, make sure that you move what was in the planned time block to another slot. Try not to delete things from your schedule—especially those things that directly generate revenue.