As an accounting firm coach assisting firms across Australia I am very reliant on my calendar in Microsoft Outlook. I use my calendar not just for client and other appointments but for appointments with myself for getting tasks done. I also use it for both personal and business matters – a single view of my life. If it’s important it’s in my calendar!

Accounting Firm CoachingFor any given week you will see the following colours:

Dark Blue             Client work

Mid Blue              Marketing and sales activity

Light blue            The default Outlook colour used for items that are tentative

Black                      Business management – working on my business not in it

Red                        Business or personal administration – stuff like finance and IT feature here

Purple                   Airline flights (I had 15 in November so it appears quite a lot!)

Yellow                   Travel on the ground

Orange                 Accommodation

Green                   Personal and fun activities.

So why do I do this? Here are three reasons:

  1. It makes it very easy for me to see at a glance the nature of what I am doing on any given day or week.
    This in turn means I can quickly see if something is missing. For example I recently looked at a week where I had purple showing for some flights but no yellow for travel to the airport and entry to the carpark. I quickly realised I had not booked the parking.
  2. It gives me a sense of how I am spending my time.
    Ideally in most weeks I will want to see a mix of most of the colours but more dark and mid blue than anything else– after all those are the activities that directly earn my living. So if I look at next week and see a lot of red I might think – OK I really need to make sure I’ve got a lot of blue the following week to make up for that. I also want to see a reasonable amount of green because all work an no play makes Rob a dull boy!
  3. It helps me think more deeply about how I spend my time and in doing so supports effective use of my time.
    In that regard it is not just the colour coding that helps. I have a business plan and that business plan helps guides decisions about how I use my time and what priorities will be for any given week. My routine is over the weekend to spend time reviewing the week ahead and a few weeks after that. I also review the week just finished to check that I did everything that was in my calendar. Sometimes there will be something that didn’t get done and I schedule it for another time.

Colour coding is an important component of my approach to calendar management and getting things done. The other components are the regular planning and review routine and drawing on the business plan to determine priorities.

How are you managing your calendar?