Read Time: 6 minutes, 40 seconds
Scheduling is the culmination of your previous activities to organize time. You’ve finally arrived what ultimately you’re searching for; an efficient, effective, calm, and productive day. Before we get to how-to schedule we want to cover a few crucial elements of scheduling first.
We talked about Time Arrangement, back in Organization, as one of the three skills necessary for organizing time. Now let’s review the other two: Time Awareness and Time Adaptation.
Time Awareness has to do with your realistic view of the time you have. For example, you have one hour to run errands and four errands to complete: drop mail off at your mailbox, get gas, pick up a cake, and grocery shop for the week. Someone with low Time Awareness would cram everything into that one hour and then stress when they run behind. High Time Awareness peeps would estimate the time it will take for each errand, choose which ones fit within the timeframe, and leave the remainder for another day.
Time Adaptation describes your ability to navigate interruptions while completing a task. If you get irritable, derailed, or even completely thrown-off by the slightest interruption (a Post-It note placed on your table while you treat a patient, a 5-minute warning sign during your speech, receiving texts during a meeting) your ability to adapt needs work. There are times when we can hyper-focus on a task and close the rest of the world out but those are few. The more versatile you are with bombardments of interruption the smoother your organized time will flow.
You might know this principle as the 80/20 Rule. It’s shown that 80% of your efforts come from 20% of your tasks. When time is the factor stressing you out, it makes scheduling much easier if you know which 20% of your tasks is causing 80% of your stress. This concept will be important when you go to create your schedule.
When making scheduling commitments most people set themselves up for stress by scheduling too close. To reinforce this bad habit, people are trained/encouraged/pressured to fill the schedule to the maximum, filling every five-minute increment. This only compounds the stress levels, making it difficult for each person to focus and work to their highest level of efficiency. During time organization observe the 50/10 rule: Of every 60 minutes only schedule 50. This allows room for recovery from stress, builds in safeguards for overwhelm, allows time for accidents or interruptions, and gives you an opportunity to plan your next steps.
REMEMBER: Keep your work and personal calendars separate. We encourage using calendar programs that can be shared, overlayed, filtered, and available on both desktops and mobile devices. Google Calendars are a perfect example of such system.
How to Schedule
Step 1: Schedule the non-negotiables. This can include lunch, family time, yoga class, date nights, board meetings, vacations, holidays, and more. These are the things you don’t miss no matter what. They fill you with joy and reduce your stress.
Step 2: Performance Essentials. These Tasks are those linked to you doing a good job at work, getting your bonus, earning the allowance, having benefits, or staying in favor.
Step 3: Time Accurately. When adding your Tasks to your calendar make sure to give yourself the exact time you need and no more. You want to see breaks in your calendar so your brain sees you have time for rest and recovery. And remember the 50-10 rule, if a Task will go longer than 50-minutes, give those last 10-minutes a break and come back to it.
Step 4: Urgent Tasks First. The kitchens on fire, the products didn’t arrive, the baby is crying, your top salesperson went to the competitor…these are Urgent Tasks to schedule in short bursts. Dealing with Urgent tasks all morning, first thing, one right after another triggers that stress response easily for most people.
Step 5: Big Wins, Major Projects, Fill-Ins. Here’s where your Priority Matrix comes in. Take those Big Win items that you are responsible for and schedule them. Then make sure to add in benchmark follow-ups with delegated tasks.
For Major Projects, you want to have time for review of progress (it’s not always a meeting) and completion of your portions.
Fill-ins are just that, things that need to be done daily (checking emails, scheduling appointments) but don’t necessarily add to your happiness or productivity. You want to complete these during your 50-minute windows, possibly when another task ends earlier than expected. These items are not meant to be filled into your 10-minutes blocks!
Step 6: Discretionary Time. Any time not blocked off is your time to work on your Important and Not Urgent tasks. You can be creative, visioning, boldly thinking, walking and checking in with staff (do not to interrupt them), and try something new. Careful you don’t get sucked into a bunch of Time Wasters, then all of your work here can go down the drain.
Scheduling is the culmination of your previous activities to organize time. You’ve finally arrived what ultimately you’re searching for; an efficient, effective, calm, and productive day. We also go through the 10 steps of how to create a schedule.