Is your calendar so packed with appointments that your “real” work keeps getting pushed to the wee hours of the morning? Are you juggling work and a side hustle? Do you find yourself spending more time emailing back and forth with clients and networking than on your work itself?

If so, you know by now that maxing out your schedule with meetings is a huge productivity killer. One of the biggest challenges designers face is simply finding the time to both manage client relationships and complete projects. How do you reclaim time for focused, passionate work to ensure you’re providing the best possible client experience and giving yourself time to truly be creative and pursue other side projects?

These three tricks will help make it happen.

woman balancing office supplies

1. Designate just 1-2 days for meetings (and save the rest for client work)

When your days are broken into short, disjointed chunks of time by constant meetings, your ability to get into a productive groove for client work plummets. So rather than opening every weekday up to interruptions (and constantly spinning your wheels between them), dedicate just one or two days for appointments with current and potential clients, partners and whomever else you need to meet with to keep your business running smoothly—and save the other three to four days for real work only.

Marie Poulin, a digital experience designer, has had great success with this, noting that “by limiting the times I’m available in my scheduling app, I’ve managed to create more space for content creation, brainstorming, planning, designing, and just life in general.”

An appointment scheduling app like Calendly can make this workload division easy by allowing you to select a certain set of days each week for appointments, and then to hide the rest of your week from new bookings.

Calendly

Create a schedule and stick to it. You’ll have the freedom to make time for yourself to maintain the passion and motivation that push you to complete great projects, which, in turn, helps retain clients and generate interest from potential clients. You’ll also be be able to make the most of your client meetings. By having these meetings and calls on dedicated days, it helps you to focus and provide the best consultative approach during your time with clients.

2. Make time to be involved in your community of designers

Meeting one-on-one with fellow designers to brainstorm and share new skills can be very beneficial and inspiring. However, if your inbox frequently fills with “pick your brain” or “let’s grab coffee” requests, advocate for sharing knowledge and meeting in groups rather than one-on-one.

Office supplies

Consider holding regular group lunches or coffee sessions, open to all interested designers in your network, where you can address several questions in quick succession and avoid having to cover the same information repeatedly. You can even look for local groups that already exist by searching for a Facebook group or on sites like meetup.com. Find a group that is consistently active and has a focus on an area you are either wanting to learn more about or have experience with so that you can contribute. As an added benefit, group brainstorming can kick off a support network in which designers can help each other, allowing you to gracefully remove yourself from every conversation and focus on your client work.

3. Keep your calendar exclusive

If you’re still sharing the full details of your calendar with clients or anyone else, you’re essentially leaving your front door wide open—anyone can walk in and interrupt what you’re doing. To truly be in control of your time, you need to be able to choose when the door is open to others and decide who has permission to come in. Instead, send private meetings so you can invite only those who truly deserve your time.

Let’s say you’ve designated Mondays and Tuesdays your “client meeting days” as outlined above—you’ll still need to control who books time with you on those days. If you are using Google Calendar, you can customize your schedule to make sure only Mondays and Tuesday are your meeting days by adding all day “busy” events to your calendar Wednesday through Friday. However, if you want to take your scheduling productivity up a notch you can use a tool like Calendly that can handle blocking off availability for you. With it, you can also create a specific type of appointment for people to book, then designate it a private appointment.

Calendly secret event

Now the meetings you share are only visible to people you choose to share it with directly. Rather than your door being left open to anyone passing by, only those you’ve invited can drop in to chat—allowing you to prioritize your current and potential clients, network of designers and other priority contacts while making the rest of your time truly yours.

Ready to become more efficient while continuing to build and maintain strong client relationships? Take Calendly for a spin—it’s free!

We’d be curious to know other tricks that you’ve used to get more time in your day to focus on productivity while still ensuring you’re meeting with the people that matter most to your business. Drop us a note in the comments to share!

Rachel Hobbs
About the author

Rachel Hobbs is Head of Content at Calendly, a simple, yet powerful appointment scheduling app that eliminates the back and forth of scheduling and makes it possible for professionals to easily meet with customers, prospects, partners and candidates. Calendly’s mission is to take the work out of scheduling so its users can accomplish more and book the meetings that drive their business goals.