Calendaring :  Clustering and Clumping Time

Calendaring : Clustering and Clumping Time

Time management is really about priority management.  Using the Clustering and Clumping Time technique will allow you to get more done in less time AND with grace and ease.

Find a calendaring system that works for you. The Google calendar is popular because you can share it with your team and it can be synchronized to your phone, desktop calendar or other electronic device. A paper calendar can work as well if that is your preference. A paper calendar will require you to spend extra time manually filling in the block time slots. You decide what works for you to apply the block scheduling strategies.

First

Fill your calendar with all required and desired personal and family time.

  • What time do you wake up every day?
  • How much time is required for your morning routine?
  • Does that include mental focus time to set your daily intention?
  • Do you exercise at regular intervals?
  • What about shopping, meal preparation, etc.
  • Do you like to take off on certain days of the week?

Do your best to complete as many of the details of your daily routines as possible so that your schedule accurately reflects your life. This will allow you to have a better handle on the reality of the time available to devote to your goals and business activities.

Second

Fill in your calendar with any planned vacations, workshops and/or seminars and networking events that you regularly attend. Be sure to include the following:

  • Regular networking events you attend on a weekly or monthly basis
  • Conference calls or online training that you are registered for

Third

Make a list of all of the activities involved in reaching your goal and in the day-to-day operation of your business. When creating the list of specific activities, do your best to include them in categories so that you will be able to easily block out time for the same types of activities at the same time. Much like an assembly line for an automotive company, it is easier and more time efficient to perform a series of similar tasks at the same time. For example, the telephone calls category would include: follow up calls to prospective clients, calls to potential strategic alliances, making appointment with people, etc.

Category Examples: Telephone Calls, Administrative, Email, Social Media, Copywriting, etc.

Sample activities you may want to apply to the clustering and clumping time technique to include:

  • Making follow-up telephone calls to prospects
  • Making calls to strategic partners and/or alliances
  • Emails to send after networking events
  • Checking email
  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media activities
  • Making payments
  • Filing, organizing, etc.
  • Writing and/or copywriting (blogging, article writing, sales campaigns)
  • Servicing clients (fulfillment)
  • Creating marketing materials
  • Continuous learning and building of expertise (tele-classes, reading, studying, etc.)

Fourth

Once you have created this activities list, create blocks on your calendar so that you have structure for your business and your life.  Following is a base sample for your reference to get you started clustering and clumping time (of course, your blocks may have different items):

clustering-and-clumping-time

 

I hope that you already noticed that this clustering and clumping technique allows you to be more present with clients and help more people consistently. Keeping it clear and consistent helps to keep you more productive in marketing and with your clients, rather than running around like a chicken with your head cut off.  We always know what is coming next when we are clustering and clumping time.

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About Online Biz Boomer Babe

Rachel Lavern is a Certified Business Coach and founder of My Booming Online Business--a blog for middle-age, global, uptown women. She is on a mission to transform entrepreneurs' finances by teaching the action set, mindset and skill set needed to get launched + make money.

Comments

  1. Hi Rachel,

    I love the way the calendar works. I haven’t done it myself …yet..but it makes so much sense. The first list is important because if we don’t do that, we are all over the place and will forget appointments. I know..I’ve done it!

    I do like the idea of clumping because I can see visually what needs to be taken care of. You sure woke me up today because lately I’ve been a bit scattered. The warm weather has arrived and I’ve been playing hookie. I do have to re-organize my time because of the long Summer days that I love to enjoy.

    Thanks!

    -Donna
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  2. I can vouch that this system works wonderfully! I learned to live by my calendar, blocking off segments and times, when I worked in corporate America, oh-so-long ago. It’s cemented in my mind now.
    I hadn’t thought of using colored blocks, and just love that idea! I’ll add that one.
    Thanks, Rachel!
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  3. I love the clustering and clumping name. It so clearly describes the technique. Too many people just randomly schedule activities but your method is so much more efficient.

  4. Great tips on time management, Rachel. I setup several recurring appointments in my calendar for each client and color code them. It works for me.

  5. Good stuff! I’ve had to rearrange my time-management thinking as I work from my home business. As I started to create my time blocks, I discovered that I had woefully underestimated (at least in my own head) how much time each task took — I looked at my online timer and learned that trying to block time to do all my writing (for example) at once was insane. Writing is creative and creativity flows best for me shortly after I get up in the morning. Now I spread it out over several days. I also shifted social media creation from the morning to the afternoon. Just made more sense, as it doesn’t take nearly as much mental juice to produce and schedule posts as it does to handle those revenue-producing activities. Gotta look at your best ROI for your time!

    • I also do my most important critical activity in the my highest productivity part of my day Jackie—early in the morning after my morning rituals. I believe in breaking my day into zones based on my energy during each time period.

  6. I read this at the perfect time as I’ve been wondering how I can use my time more effectively. I’m an avid list writer so I know what needs to be done but your idea of creating the blocks makes so much sense. The colour makes it even easier to identify when things should be done. Great advice.
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  7. This blog is so timely for me. I have always done time blocking but have recently gotten away from it. Not only that, I’ve come to realize that my current schedule just isn’t working for me anymore and it needs a major overhaul. Just what I needed today!! Thank you!!!

  8. Yea, Jackie Harder has gotten on me about time blocking and while I am very organized… I just suck at this… I do use Google Calendar for my family so my kids can put in THEIR activities, as that is their job.. but it has glitches, which irritates me also. Great tips Rachel.. perfect!

  9. Hi Rachel,

    It’s been a while since I have visited your site. Great suggestions and ideas.

    I haven’t really worked with Google calendar before but I just recently used a Google spreadsheet and it turned out to be very handy, so I’m going to check the calendar feature out too.

    Thanks again and have a great weekend.

  10. I personally like paper calendars, maybe because I am all about writing longhand as much as possible. It’s good for the brain and the soul. I actually don’t like online calendars like, Google. This sounds like a wonderful system for those who are into clustering and clumping their time blocks. I sometimes wonder if I am from a different planet, as I have my own way of working and my trusty day timer, is a great way for me to keep track of events and followup for both my personal and business lives. Thanks for sharing this system with us, Rachel!
    Beverley Golden recently posted…A Story is a Living BeingMy Profile

    • It took me a very long time to begin using an online calendar Beverley…say about seven months ago. I LOVE writing longhand too and I have purchased a Franklin Planner system for the last 14 years or so…I have a current one two. Moving to an online calendar was born out of necessity…I was getting into too many binds. We should all use whatever system suits our lifestyle.

  11. Rachel, I liked what you wrote about adding the activities to the clustering. Adds and extra layer of detail to make sure everything is covered and also gives you a good idea of how much time something will actually take. I can underestimate how long something may take me at times because I put so much energy into every task. Oh, and I wouldn’t survive without color-coding.

    • Oh, that is a good one Meghan! One objection that people often make to this method is that they don’t know how long something will take. There are two answers to this:

      1) When you give yourself a time limit, you’ll often work within it. That’s efficient.

      2) The other is that yes, sometimes you will mis-estimate. But over time you’ll come to know how long activities take you, and you’ll be able to plan for them.

  12. Like Beverley, I use my paper calendar much to the chagrin of my coach. Our coach set up an editorial calendar with color blocks & THAT I refer to, but my own is from a daily to do list & weekly paper calendar. Sometimes I feel pressured for time but since I was a full time working mom with my own personal interest, I learned good time management skills a long time ago that still are in good use.
    Good reminder post.

  13. Rachel – As an operating room nurse since forever, I can tell you that this is EXACTLY the way the best surgical schedules are constructed. Each surgeon who regularly brings in surgeries to a hospital gets his cluster times and operating rooms assigned to him/her. This way, he or she knows he will not get circumvented and have to wait around doing nothing while another surgeon occupies his space. A set # of ORs are kept open for emergencies. All ORs (except for emergency ORs) are closed during weekly staff meetings … etc. It works!

  14. I can definitely the benefits Rachel!

    And let me say, I really love and totally resonate with your opening sentence! “Time management
    is about priority management!”that is a totally awesome mindset and perspective!

    And it definitely makes perfect sense. You have helped put things in their proper perspective.

    And the really cool part is, this entire process you have so eloquently laid out,
    is so non techie.Boy what a relief.and it doesn’t take up a lot of time to emulate.

    although this definitely my very first time been exposed to your pretty straightforward
    concept, I can definitely see and appreciate the potential benefits Rachel!Thanks!
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  15. Hi Rachel

    Time is indeed money so this technique comes in handy. As you have shared, I see how much the clustering and clumping technique will increase productivity.

    I agree with the blocks of activity that one must set for himself in the calender plus it is best to use a calender that flows with a personality. I have been using Google calender to its full potential . Perhaps it is time to adopt this system. Thanks for sharing. Take care

  16. I was just working out a new schedule earlier today. I usually keep a daily list and work through it, but your calendar idea makes more sense. Since I’ve become more involved in social media, I need to allocate more time. I was either engaged in an all-out campaign to get it done or trying to fit it in piecemeal throughout the day. Now, I can schedule specific times and not feel overwhelmed. Thanks for sharing, Rachel.

  17. Hi Rachel,
    What a great way to stay productive! I really need to look more into utilizing Google calendar 🙂 Thanks for sharing these awesome tips!

  18. Unfortunately my time management often turns out to be crisis management! I tend to leave things to the last minute. For really important jobs or appointments I use a little program called Active Desktop Calendar. It pops up at set times (daily, weekly …) I can set an alarm to repeat during the day to keep reminding me.
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  19. Hi Rachel,
    I learned about the calendar system five years ago and never stop using it ever since. It saves me time and troubles on a daily basis. Love it, thank you for sharing!

  20. Good points, thanks, I am not very good with any of this.:-)