If you’re like most people you probably have trouble managing your schedule. Let’s face it, time management is just not something that comes natural to us. Over the years i’ve tried many strategies to keep my schedule organized. While some worked great, others weren’t so effective. Today i’ll be sharing some strategies that have worked wonders for me. Here are four scheduling hacks that will help reclaim your time.

Try to Truly Manage Your Own Time

Everyone manages their own time to some extent. However, it’s common for individuals to delegate scheduling to other people whether that’s a virtual or regular assistant. When delegating your scheduling to someone else you’re putting someone else in charge of your day. The misconception is that this saves you time when it’s often quite the opposite.

If you manage your own time you have to really think about why you’re meeting with a specific person. You get to decide which meetings take priority over others. And most of all you get to decide which meetings you don’t take at all. The time you save by making better decisions really adds up.

Pro Tip: Use a calendar application that helps automate your scheduling. If you use one of these solutions it makes it much easier to truly take control of your own time.

Block Time Specifically for Email

Email can truly take over your day if you don’t take control of it. The best way to take control of your email is to avoid checking it all the time. To do so you should block out time(s) throughout the day dedicated to checking email. In addition you should turn off notifications so you aren’t being constantly reminded to check it.

I block out 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes after lunch, and another 15 right before I leave work for email. This way I know I won’t be spending more than 45 minutes a day checking my email. Block out your times and stick to them religiously.

 Create Time Slots for Specific Meeting Types

Managing your schedule is all about being organized and consistent. One scheduling hack that’s worked well for me is creating time slots for specific meeting types. For example if you’re a sales person you’re probably having tons of introductory calls. For my sales calls I use a 10-minute time slot for an introductory call. When I book these calls I try to keep it to 10 minutes.

More often than not you’ll be able to gauge whether or not someone is interested within the first few minutes. That said, I rarely even use the 10-minutes. The great part about this is that I always know my introductory calls will take a maximum of 10 minutes. For follow up meetings I either schedule a 30-minute call or an hour and a half lunch meeting depending on the level of interest from the client. If you aren’t sure how long or short to make the time slot just make an estimate and adjust after. Obviously you can be flexible based on the situation but try your best to stay consistent.

Schedule for Exercise and Personal Time

This is one of the scheduling hacks that’s often overlooked these days. It’s also one of the most important. If you think you can work all day and night you’re mistaken. Everyone needs to take breaks and everyone needs time to disconnect. In the long run it’ll actually make you more productive.

That said it’s important to schedule time for both exercise and personal time. For exercise I recommend using a time block preferably in the morning. For personal time you should try to set a time towards the end of the work day that you fully disconnect.

At the end of the day you need to find the strategies that work best for you. The four scheduling hacks above have helped me take control of my days and stay productive. I recommend giving each a shot, you won’t be disappointed!