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Prioritize Appointments With the Most Impact on Your Bottom Line Not everybody who wants your time is worth your time.

By John Rampton Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Prioritizing your tasks and to-do-lists is key when it comes to productivity and time management. What if you have a calendar full of appointments and meetings? These also need to be prioritized. If you say "yes" to each and every request when you already booked, you end-up spreading yourself too thin. As a result, conflicts will arise and you'll fall behind on your most important tasks. Eventually this can lead to you burning yourself out.

Before you start booking appointments, take the time to evaluate which appointments take priority over others. When you understand the priority concept, you can prioritize your appointments to have the most impact.

Prioritizing your appointments helps you achieve your goals.

Only book an appointment if it will help you reach your goals.

Let's say you are looking for new prospects or investors. Your appointments could be building relationships, sharing your vision, or metrics like revenue, selling a specific product, or the number of sales calls you make in a day.

The first step in prioritizing appointments is to make sure that they align with your goals. Delay, delegat or delete any appointment that doesn't help you reach a specific goal.

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Prioritizing gives you enough time to get your work done.

Booking back-to-back appointments may sound great in theory but it isn't the smart approach because we need time to prepare before an appointment. For instance, if you're a CPA or tax adviser, you need to review your client's information prior to the appointment so the meeting will be more productive and less time-consuming for both you and your client.

After an appointment, you need time to catch you breath, grab a snack, follow-up with the client and attend to administrative tasks like returning emails.

By prioritizing your appointments you'll have a better understanding of what exactly needs to be done before, during and after the appointment. This makes appointments more efficient and gives you a good idea how long the appointment will take. Now you can appropriately schedule your entire day so that everything that needs to get done does.

Prioritizing saves time, money and your sanity.

Prioritizing your appointments will save you time. Instead of devoting much of your day to appointments that aren't productive, you can focus solely on the appointments that help you achieve a goal.

This can also save you money. For example, if you're not prioritizing tasks then you may schedule too many employees during non-peak hours. As a result, you're paying your team to basically stand around. Even worse, you may be understaffed during peak hours.

And, most importantly, prioritizing your appointments keeps you sane. As opposed to constantly "winging it" and rushing from appointment to appointment, you can remain calm, cool, and collected. You'll also have time to decompress and catch your breath.

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Prioritizing avoids scheduling conflicts.

When you don't prioritize your appointments there's a greater chance that conflicts will arise.

For instance, because you're accepting every request, you may end-up double-booking events. You may also run late to your next appointment, which means you're prospect or client is wasting their time waiting for you.

If you're working with others, these conflicts could be be being over-or-understaffed. Again, this can be costly and keep your customers waiting.

When you prioritize appointments you're only focusing on the most important appointments. This reduces conflicts because instead of booking too many appointments, you're only setting the amount of appointments that you can handle in a day.

Prioritizing prepares you for the unexpected.

No matter how prepared you are, you can always be certain that the unexpected will happen.

You or your client may be forced to cancel or reschedule because of a family emergency, inclement weather, or putting out a fire at work.

While you can't plan for every scenario, you can develop a couple of contingency plans. For instance, if you have a meeting booked with a high-profile client or investor, you could have your co-partner on stand-by just in case you can't make the meeting. This way the meeting goes on, instead of having to reschedule several months from now.

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Prioritizing is about valuing your time.

Time is without a doubt your most valuable asset. But, if you accept each and every appointment, you're letting others disrespect your time.

By prioritizing your appointments you're clearly letting others, as well as yourself, know that your calendar and goals are your top priority. Delay, delegate or delete unimportant invitations.

Some appointments are not worth your time.

Not all appointments are equal. Evaluate the appointments currently in your calendar app to determine which ones are important.

For example, a discovery or introductory call with a potential client shouldn't carry as much weight as an appointment that wraps-up a project with a long-time client. That introductory call should be rescheduled if it interferes with the more important appointment, which is keeping your existing client happy.

Achieves work-life balance.

Achieving work-life balance is one of the most effective ways to be happy with your life.

Prioritizing appointments can help achieve work-life balance since you're only blocking out time for your most important appointments. When these appointments, and only these appointments, have been met you can focus on the things that really matter in your life -- your family, friends, hobbies and side projects.

Tips on prioritizing an appointment.

Here's a couple of ways that you can create an effective schedule by prioritizing appointments.

Plan your week: This may take a couple of hours on a Friday evening or Sunday night, but it will make you week run much smoother. Start by listing all of your tasks and appointments for the week, aka your "A" responsibilities. Next, identify your most important tasks and appointments and schedule them first.

Block out time: Schedule your priorities first and then, if you have the time, schedule in your "B" appointments and tasks. Don't forget to include some white space so that there's flexibility in your schedule.

Delete and delegate: What about the appointments or tasks that aren't "A" or "B?" Either scratch them or hand them off to someone else.

Use online appointment scheduling software: This allows customers and your staff to book their own appointments or schedules. Because you control when you're available, they can only select open slots. As a result, you eliminate those back-and-forth emails or phone calls. This software also sends out automated confirmations and reminders.

Determine the purpose: When a client requests an appointment online, don't be afraid to generate an automated message asking what the purpose of the appointment is. This way you know the purpose of the meeting before committing to it. If it's not important, and you're swamped, it can wait until a later date. Here are a few other time management mistakes to help.

Start saying no: If the meeting doesn't meet a goal, then don't hesitate in politely rejecting the request. Time blocking is key.

Analyze your appointments: Finally, evaluate the time spent on appointments. For example, if an average appointment takes 20-minutes, then you can start blocking out 30-minutes for future appointments -- 20 minutes for the meeting and 10 minutes for preparation.

This gives you a chance to know how many appointments you can realistically book in a day.

John Rampton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Entrepreneur and Connector

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the calendar productivity tool Calendar.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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