People experience burnout due to their busy calendars. Working, attending meetings, and doing other business stuff leaves them feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. But does working all day long mean we are also being productive? Join us in this episode as Jessica Bledsoe discusses the importance of managing your time and allotting some of your time to rest and reenergize. The importance of effectively managing your time led Jessica to develop a Google Calendar add-on app. Jessica also offers a 3-day challenge that can take you through the step-by-step process of efficiently using the calendar mapping method. So listen and take hold of your time and your life!
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Plugins Or Applications For Effective Time Management With Jessica Bledsoe Of Pavr
I’m always looking for how we can work smarter and not harder. Along those lines is finding great tools that help us to shortcut our way into better processes and habits. Systems and tools are important in supporting us in being more productive. Jessica Bledsoe is here. She is a serial entrepreneur. She’s a dog mom. She’s a part-time van lifer and the Cofounder of Pav*r, a time management app that integrates with your Google Calendar. She’s passionate about helping business owners and busy people to reclaim their time so they can live more and work less. Jessica, welcome to the show.
Penny, thank you so much for having me.
What was that I couldn’t pronounce there?
It’s a van lifer. We travel and live in a van part-time. We travel around the country as much as we can.
That gives you the freedom to be wherever and do your work from wherever you are.
Do you have internet and everything so you can set up your own little office there?
We have hotspots on our phones. We got a different provider for the data on our iPad, which we can also use as a hotspot. We have a booster that’s inside the van that should boost our signal. We are on the waitlist for one of those Starlinks from Elon as well. We’re patiently waiting for those to come out. It is difficult reception, especially at a lot of the national parks and things.
Your dog goes with you since you’re a dog mom, is that right?
Yeah. We have two dogs and it’s a Golden Retriever and a Lab mix. They’re both pretty good-sized dogs. We build out a little extension at the end of the bed. They travel around with us. They absolutely love it. We love having them with us. We love to travel and be able to bring the dogs because we love being able to bring them with us and they love hitting the road.You can really start to make some better decisions about how you’re spending your time. You can really start to evaluate as you start going into the next month. Click To Tweet
Having that freedom about traveling, do you feel that makes you more productive in a sense? People have that tug-of-war with balance and wanting to do all these things with their lives, but never getting to them because they’re working all the time?
It definitely makes me be more aware of what I’m working on and what I’m working towards. When we’re in the van, we’re still working, but we’re certainly not working as much as we are when we’re stationary. I can be here in my office. We work in sprints so that we can get a lot done in a little amount of time. When we’re on the road, we’re doing maintenance and maintaining things. We’re not doing a ton of development or pushing out big updates. We learned our lesson on that one pretty quickly.
We try to get as much done as we can while we’re stationary so that we don’t have to work as much while we’re on the road. There are still things that have to get done and that we need to be aware of. We try to dedicate at least a few hours every day to check in on things and make sure that things are running smoothly. If we need to take the time off, because we don’t have internet or we’re traveling between places, then we have the flexibility to be able to do that.
What it might do is help you to plan more effectively. This is the lifestyle you’ve chosen. It means that you have to plan in order to make it work. A lot of people have this lifestyle where they’re home all the time, so they forget to plan or make excuses why there’s no time to plan. That key thing that saves them so much time and helps them work smarter, they never sit down to do. Does that make sense?
Yeah. We have big goals that we create every year, but we plan in quarters and try to map out exactly what we’re going to do. This is a method that I teach people. It’s my intentional calendar mapping method. It’s getting intentional with what it is you’re trying to do within that 90-day period and planning for that. We know when we’re going to take our big and long 4 to 6 week trips. We can plan around those accordingly and fit that into that map.
There’s also room for some spontaneity there, too. A couple of months ago, we had a chance to see the Northern Lights up in Minnesota. We saw that and within a day, we were loaded up in the van and headed North. There’s some flexibility that’s allowed there. If we know that we’re going to be on the road for an extended period of time, we plan that into that quarterly planning as well.
Is that where Pav*r came from? Did it come out of your lifestyle and need and you made it for yourself?
We were small business owners for several years. We worked with a lot of other small businesses but they were open from 9:00 to 5:00. We had to be available to them during those times. We worked on-site with quite a few of them. We were in their office. We realized that wasn’t going to be the lifestyle that we wanted to lead forever. We wanted more freedom and flexibility. We wanted to be able to be location-independent for an extended period of time and turn our phones off when we were doing that. That was something that we realized.
We put some into the intention behind that. We had no idea how we would get there. We got this idea for the app because we kept seeing this problem come up over and over again where people needed more data out of their calendars. We’re putting all this valuable data into our calendar and there’s not a great way to get it out.
We kept seeing that with our clients. We were seeing it with ourselves. We were looking for a solution and not finding one. We were like, “What if we made this ourselves?” That’s what we set out to do and realized that if we were able to create the app and that became our job instead of the service side business, it would give us that freedom that we were looking for. We set the intention and got that spark of inspiration for the app and dove right into it.
What data goes in and what data comes out and why is that important?
When you’re putting something on your calendar, most of the time, you’re putting what it is. In that subject line, you’re putting where you’re going. If it’s a location, you’re meeting with people. You’re inviting them to those calendar events. Those are the things that we already put on our calendar when we are creating an event.
With Pav*r, you can add additional fields. If there are additional data that you want to put onto that calendar event, maybe you want to put a PO number or an invoice number or you want to tag someone else that’s not necessarily attending the event, but needs to be aware of the calendar event, you can do that. You can also add categories and labels to the event. You can tag it as, “This is a meeting. This is a time that I’m working on a project,” or whatever it might be.
You can put categories on it. You can get even more granular with labels to say, “This was a team meeting. This was a client meeting. This is a networking meeting,” whatever it is. You can export all of that data out of the calendar and into a Google sheet. It does two things. It dumps it all into a spreadsheet. You can see all of those event details as far as who you were with, the date, the time, the duration and all of that.
It also creates a valuable report using those categories and labels. You can see exactly how much time you’re spending in meetings and exactly how much time you’re spending on client work. However you set it up, it’ll tell you how much time you’re spending in those categories and in those labels. It gives you a valuable look at your day, your week, your month or whatever time range you want to run that report for.
You can start to make some better decisions about how we’re spending our time. If you look at that report and you spent twenty hours in meetings this month, maybe that wasn’t the best use of your time. You can start to evaluate as you start going into the next month how many meetings you’re going to say yes to and make better decisions. We get so caught up in that day-to-day and saying yes to everything that comes our way. We end our quarter and realize that we haven’t accomplished our goals. This gives you a way to constantly be evaluating and revising based on that data.
There are a lot of great time tools out there. Clockify is one that I use. It’s free. I do a lot of time studies with clients and things that. How is Pav*r different? Why would one choose to use Pav*r over one of those other apps that link with your Google Calendar?
There’s obviously no shortage of time management and productivity apps. For us, we wanted to create something that was directly on the calendar. It wasn’t an add-on. It wasn’t a link to the calendar. It wasn’t pulling data from one place to the other. It was on Google Calendar itself. That’s where it starts and we’re putting so much information into our calendars already.
Rather than switching to a different app to put all this information in, if we could go ahead and capture it directly on the calendar event, it reduces the amount of time it takes to be able to do that. It makes your data more accurate but it’s a tool that you’re already using. You already know how to use Google Calendar. I don’t have to teach you how to use Pav*r.It's really important to have a really clear vision of what success means to you. Click To Tweet
It’s pretty intuitive to Google Calendar. You’re pretty familiar with that interface already. It cuts down on the amount of time it takes to learn how to use it and to make sure that you’re using it consistently. That’s people’s number one struggle most of the time is that you install all these apps. You forget to use them because you’re not used to them. You don’t have the habit yet.
We don’t need another app to open. It’s smart that it’s within. That’s where the consistency lacks. It’s another tool that people have to go into sync and check and so forth. That’s a definite benefit to using Pav*r. You mentioned being able to export it out to a Google sheet. I’m big into visuals. I could see the benefit.
I’m a public speaker. It would be great. I had to go through this huge thing to create a list of every single speaking engagement that I had because I needed to submit it for certification or something like that. It would be so great to have this system to be able to go, “Here it is.” When it comes to visualizations, if I wanted to see how many I did in each city or different things like that, is that a part of the tool? Is that something that you would do in Google Sheets that you would make happen?
It gives you a visual high-chart based on the categories and the labels. If you wanted to do it by city, for example, you could always set that up as a category or a label. You could go into the sheet itself, filter by those cities and create a chart based on that if you knew how. By default, it gives you a great visualization in a pie chart format.
There are two pie charts, one for the category and one for the label. It tells you exactly how many events were on your calendar during that period and how many hours there were. It gives you a lot of good a glance data that you can work off of. You start to tweak things based on, “What is it that I exactly want to see at a glance?” You can start setting up your calendar that way.
This is a blog and most people will be reading this. This is also going to be on YouTube. You could pop it up on your screen and have us take a look visually at what that looks like. You don’t even need to use Google Calendar because this is also teaching you a system, a way of thinking and a way to organize. That’s a big word for this year is to get organized in terms of making things easier because I’m better organized. I encourage you to go back, look at this and get some ideas of how you can visualize this and make things work for you. Here it is, Pav*r.
We’re going to go ahead and create a report. It’s launched on the sidebar.
Within the screen itself, Pav*r takes up a little sidebar. It allows you to make a report. You’re able to choose within this report builder a date sequence and then create your chart.
Once you put in your date range, you create the report. It’ll take a second. What you’ll see pop up here is a snippet here. If we click on open a report, it’s going to open it in the sheet.
I was thinking, “I got to do some work. I got to open the sheet and export and import.” This is all done for you. You see it on your calendar, which I love. I don’t have to go into the sheet in order to see it. That gives you more flexibility once you click on it and it opens the sheet. That’s cool.
You’ll get these great visuals. If you click into the other tab for calendar entries, you can see it in a full spreadsheet format as well. Few clicks of the button there and you’ve got what you need.
Thanks for sharing that. I can totally see how that works. I am not using Google Calendar as my main calendar but for that reason, I might switch to using my Google Calendar as my core calendar. I like to be able to sort and see things quickly at a glance within the same app. There is a system behind it. Your thought process created this and you mentioned something about the intentional calendar. Could you talk a little bit about that process and how you take a step back and look at your planning within your calendar?
It’s a pretty simple four-step method. The first step is getting crystal clear on what your goals are and what success means to you. Especially for entrepreneurs, it’s important to have a clear vision of what success means to you. When I started my first business, I was working towards this vision of success that I ultimately realized it was almost five years into my business that it wasn’t even the version of success that I wanted.
I thought that I had to have this big office full of a bunch of employees and hundreds of clients. I realized that I didn’t like having a bunch of employees. I didn’t want to be stationary in one office forever. I was like, “Why am I working towards this?” At that point, I sat down and redefined what success meant to me. That was asking myself a lot of questions, not just about, “How much money do I want to make?” “Do I want to have those employees or not?” But it was like, “Do I want an office?” “What does that office look like?” “How am I showing up as the most successful version of myself and getting clear on that?”
At that point, I was working 40-plus, probably closer to 50 or 60 hours a week. I didn’t want to do that. I became my boss because I wanted freedom. I thought that being my boss would give me freedom and more than two weeks of vacation a year. At that point, I was struggling to even take two days off at a time. It’s getting crystal clear on what we want that to be and how many hours, how many days do you want to be working and trying to understand how to plan out our days, our weeks and our months in that quarter and creating time.
Implementation intention is what I call them, which I totally ripped off from James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. He’s the one that taught me that. We create these implementation intentions where it says, “I’m going to work on this goal, on this day and time, in this location.” If I set a quarterly goal for myself, one of my goals for this quarter was getting booked on twelve podcasts. That’s going to be something that I need to work towards every week to make sure that I achieve that goal. Every Tuesday from 10:00 to 11:00, I’m working on researching and pitching and doing all that.
That’s setting that implementation intention but it’s also making time for the other things. There are still clearly other things that need to get done that are not just your goals. We have our day-to-day work that needs to get done. I have Money Monday that’s on my calendar every Monday, where I go through my QuickBooks account. I look at my AR and my AP for the week and make sure that my finances are set up. We have emails that need to be responded to. Those are all things that I map out on my calendar so that I know that I’ve already created time and space to work on them.
I’ll create time for reactive tasks as well. There are going to be last-minute things that pop up. There’s always going to be people that are, “Do you have a quick minute for a phone call now? Could you possibly meet with me tomorrow?” They’re throwing out times. You’re saying yes out of either you do need to meet with them or there’s some obligation to do that. You’re letting them take control of your time and your calendar.
Instead, if we go ahead and make time for those things, it could be, “I’m sorry, I’m not available at this time that you requested, but I do have this space available and see if you can fit it into that,” which gives you back control of your time. You get better at saying no to things because you can look at your calendar and be like, “I’ve already got a busy week this week. If I only want to work 30 hours this week, I can’t say yes to this.”
It gives you more intention behind your time and going ahead and mapping that out on your calendar. You’re ensuring that your work is getting done. You’re ensuring that those fires are going to get put out. You’re ensuring that you’re making time to work on your goals so that we don’t get so caught up in our day-to-day that another three months go by. We didn’t accomplish what we set out to do.
That’s a huge thing when you talk about scheduling reactive time. I want to talk about that. A lot of people get this idea of time blocking. They’re like, “I’m into it.” They block every single second of their day, leaving no reactionary of time, barely time to go to the bathroom in between or have lunch. We need those pockets of space to catch up with something that went awry. An opportunity comes up that we want to say yes to because it’s a great opportunity or also the structure to help us to see how valuable that we don’t have the time for that but we do have the time for the other things.Give yourself white space in your calendar. When you give yourself time to rest and reflect, that's when you get your best ideas. Click To Tweet
I think it was a TEDx or something that I saw that when people tell themselves they don’t have the time, it has the same effect on their psyche as depression. That’s powerful because when we overbook ourselves, then we get caught up in this scarcity mindset of, “I don’t have enough time.” You hear that always from different people, especially entrepreneurs that are wearing many hats. That’s interesting that we close ourselves in, eliminate that flexibility and as you said, that feeling that we have control. There’s a fine balance there.
It’s easy to start being resentful of your business or of the clients that you’re working with when you’re doing that. You’re constantly saying yes to things and filling in every single moment of your calendar. You realize that you don’t have any time for yourself. Then you start having to say no to things with your friends and your family.
There are things that matter to you that you’re not able to do because you said yes to something else. When you show up for that thing and you’re there instead of where you’d rather be, you’re resentful of that time that you’re spending there. I experienced that first hand. I was in a position where I was saying yes to everything because, quite honestly, I had bills to pay.
If somebody was willing to give me money to do something, I was saying yes to it. I was resentful of that work because it wasn’t the type of work that I wanted to do. It was taking time away from what I would rather be doing instead. I realized that was not sustainable for me. If that was what being an entrepreneur and owning my own business meant, I might as well go out and get a job with someone else. I could at least have some consistent pay and hours because this wasn’t it.
I’m making that decision that I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m going to be intentional with my time and with who I’m working with. We think we have to fill in all of these hours in our calendar. We think that means being productive, but I would disagree. Giving yourself that white space in your calendar is so important. When you give yourself time to rest and reflect, that’s when we get our best ideas and set those intentions. It’s okay to do nothing. You don’t have to fit yourself into that box. You have the power to decide how much and when you’re going to work and what your days are going to look like.
What work do you do when you’re feeling resentful? You might as well cut down the quality and the passion and all of that. At the end of the day, it wasn’t worth it. I’ve been there as well. Many entrepreneurs have been there. There are a number of people who are in the corporate world who read this blog as well.
The same thing happens in corporate is they say yes to things that they shouldn’t say yes to, that are keeping them from the things that are most important in their work that determine whether they get a raise or not. That may take up that extra space that they need in order to show up creatively for the core part of their work. They feel they can’t push back. Again, I always come back to the element of control. When we feel we have to say yes or that it’s an obligation, then we lose that aspect of control that we so desperately want.
What I find with a lot of our Pav*r users that aren’t entrepreneurs, they are in a corporate world or employed by someone else, they’re using Pav*r in defense of their time so that they can run these reports and say, “This is what I’ve been spending my time on. I don’t have the time to do whatever it is you’re asking me to do.”
I have one customer that I spoke with that was like, “My boss is pulling me into meeting after meeting. He’s getting upset with me when my work isn’t getting done. I’ve been able to run a report to show him how many meetings he’s pulled me into. In 6 out of 8 of these meetings, I didn’t have any action items. You wanted me to be there to hear whoever else is talking. If you wonder why these other things aren’t getting done, it’s because I don’t have the time.” We see that a lot. People are using it in defense of their time to show where their time is going.
Is there a link between other calendar types in Pav*r? Could I use Zapier or some other tool to bring in from Apple Calendar or Microsoft? It’s a big one that corporate is using.
We don’t have any webhooks or anything that it would integrate with something like Zapier. However, as long as Google is your main calendar, you’re pulling that information into Apple or wherever and it’s pushing that data back into Google, you could always go in once a week, once a month and quickly add those categories and labels.
We have some shortcuts that we released where you can change the color on the calendar and it’ll automatically apply the category. You could put a hashtag in the event description and it would automatically apply the label. There are some things that you could do within your Apple Calendar that would push that back to the Google Calendar.
It should keep all that data. Microsoft, on the other hand, we are not integrated with at all. If it’s something you’re interested in, we do have a waitlist on our website where you could tell us you’re interested in it for Microsoft. Once we’ve gotten enough attention there, then that’s something we can definitely put on our roadmap.
For me, it’s the Apple side. I’ll be looking at that. That’s an easy one because I already share the calendar. That’s super easy. Thank you. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. There’s a lot of nuggets and a smart, great tool there that you’ve got. Where can people find out more information about you and about Pav*r and download it?
If you want to follow me, I’m always on Instagram @JessBledsoe. For Pav*r, you can get that at GetPavr.com or directly from the Google Marketplace. If you’re interested in learning more about that intentional calendar mapping method, I have a three-day challenge that you can sign up for. It’s totally free. It’ll take you through the step-by-step process so that at the end of the three days, you have that process in place. You can start getting that mapped on your calendar. That’s going to give you the best data when you go to run your reports from Pav*r. You can get that at GetPavr.com/challenge.
Thank you. Is there anything else that I didn’t ask you that you want to share that or you should have asked me because I’ve got this great thing to share with the group? Any last words before we wrap up?
The biggest thing is to give yourself some grace. It’s difficult when you’re creating a new habit of managing and being intentional with your time. It’s okay if you’ve got your entire day mapped out and you wake up and you’re like, “I’m not feeling it.” Pick one thing that’s going to set you up to be better tomorrow and do that one thing. Take the rest of the day off. I want to tell people to give themselves some grace when they’re trying to create new habits and trying to be intentional with their time and with how they manage their time. It’s a process that you learn. It’s one of those things, the more consistent you can be, the better you’re going to be for it.
It’s different strokes for different folks. One tool or one method might work for one person and not another. Give it enough time to stick with it to see if this is one that can work for you. The key thing I see is that people start and download so many different tools. They don’t give it enough time to feel it and work with it, work through that process to see if that’s going to make a big difference for them or not.
Make time to make time is what I always say. Give yourself a few minutes every day to make time for the rest of the day. Take a look at how you’re spending that time so you can make some better decisions. That’s how we get lost. We don’t make the time to make the time.
Thanks, Jess. I appreciate you being here and I look forward to working with Pav*r more.
Thank you so much.
Thank you all for being here. Make sure that you subscribe, that you leave us a comment. We’re looking to build up the channel. I’m also going to be starting a new short format. In addition to these great interviews, I’m going to be doing some short 2 to 5-minute topic-oriented talks that are easily consumable but are leaving you with great nuggets that you can put into practice or at least get yourself thinking in a different way.
- YouTube – Penny Zenker Keynote Speaker
- Atomic Habits
- @JessBledsoe – Instagram
About Jessica Bledsoe
Jessica Bledsoe is the co-founder and CEO of Pav*r, a digital calendar time management application. A graduate of the University of Louisville, Jessica has a proven entrepreneurship track record and nearly a decade of experience driving sales growth in the technology industry. Jessica was the recipient of the 2019 Rising Star award by Women in Tech and is passionate about helping others use technology to improve their daily lives.