15 Tips to Get More Out of Your Business Diary
Your business diary can be one of the most useful tools for your work when used the right way.
A paper diary can be an effective organisational tool when used efficiently. If you value it as a vital business tool and actively seek to get more out of your diary, you can seriously impact your organisational skills and productivity.
1. Choose the right diary for youYou’ll get more out of a diary that actually meets your needs, so do some research before purchasing. Check out our Diary Planner Buying Guide for help working out what you need.
2. Take some time to set it upOnce you’ve got your perfect business diary, spend some time customising it and getting it ready to help you through the year ahead. Start by writing your name and contact number, or inserting a business card, so that it can be returned to you in the (hopefully unlikely) event that it is separated from you. Next, transfer important dates and information from your current diary into the new one so that you don’t miss any annual events like birthdays. If your diary has a year planner, you can jot down these events on it as well for a high-level view of upcoming events. Maybe you’ve already booked some holidays or know of other important dates, so get them locked into your diary now before you forget.
3. Give it a make-overIf your diary isn’t a gorgeous fashion style, you can still customise it to suit your taste. Washi tape is an inexpensive and quick way to add some colour to joosh it up. Once the outside is covered, you can work your magic on the inside, adding month tabs or colourful designs to draw attention to your important dates. When your diary is visually appealing you are more likely to want to have it with you and to use it.
4. Colour-codingUsing a colour-coded system can help you to see what you’ve got coming up at a glance. Work out a system based on your workstyle, assigning colours, including highlighter colours, and create a key on a page at the front or back of your diary.
5. Make it the first thing you look at each dayYour business diary is a reference point for your work day. Before you start anything new, open it up and assess your day. You may want to prioritise certain tasks, or bump something from today into tomorrow – now’s the time to get it sorted out and get your day on track.
6. Carry it with youYou’ll get more out of your business diary if you always have it with you throughout the work day. This may limit the size you can choose, but it will mean that you don’t have to transfer important information from scribbled Post-Its or your digital calendar, reducing the chances of getting it wrong, forgetting something, or losing the information. Your diary should accompany you to meetings and any offsite appointments as well. If you take work home with you, make sure the diary comes along, too.
7. Keep it openWhether you’re at your desk or in a meeting, keep your diary open and ready as a reference and to accept new entries.
8. Write it down straight awayAs soon as you make a new appointment or create a new task, add it straight into your diary. It’s also a handy place to make notes during phone conversations and when ideas pop into your head. Then you can flip back through to recall what you’ve written. The physical act of writing will help to reinforce it in your memory, but it will also act as a safety net for your memory so that you don’t have to worry if you forget. This way you could reduce your mental load, only needing to remember that the information is in your diary and that you need to carry the diary with you.
9. Carry a pen with youDon’t forget to keep a pen with you so that you can jot things down wherever you are. Multi-colour pens, like the BIC 4 Colour are great as you’ve got your colour-coding system in one pen. Or you may prefer an erasable pen, like the Pilot Frixion, so you can make easy amendments.
10. Break down your tasksSome tasks are made up of smaller bite-size chunks that can be split up and tackled individually. By diarising them separately, you can prompt yourself to work on them and stay ahead of your deadline.
11. Set reminders for important eventsAdd a countdown or set reminders in the lead up to important events to mentally prepare for them. Like a kid counting down to Christmas, you can really ramp up the excitement before your event with a visual countdown in your diary. And if you have tasks to perform in preparation for your event or meeting, you can schedule these at appropriate intervals in advance to allow time. You may also find it helpful to add a sticky flag to these dates to make them easier to find in your diary.
12. Prepare for tomorrow todayCommit the last 10 minutes of your work day mapping out your to-do’s for tomorrow and looking over your appointments.
13. Prepare for next week this weekAt the end of each week, allow time to run your eyes over the coming week’s schedule, workload and deadlines.
14. Prepare for next monthKeeping track of long-term and high range entries in your diary will make it more likely that you’ll meet your deadlines, be prepared for your presentations, meetings and appointments, and stay on track.
15. Use your diary your wayUltimately, you’ll be more likely to use your business diary consistently and get more out of it when you find what works best for you. You may want to use a page per month to map out each month’s major tasks or projects. Or you may just love using the address section to store your important contacts. Perhaps you’re responsible for staff leave and want a place to record movements. Or you need a reliable reference for metric conversions or school holidays. Whatever it is, over time you will find what works for you and how you want to use your diary.
By keeping everything in one convenient location, you can reduce the stress of having to remember everything and take control of your time management, with all the key aspects of your work being recorded in your business diary. You will instantly get more out of your diary when you treat it like a written record of your work life.