Youâ€™ve probably heard the saying,
â€œWhat gets scheduled gets done.â€ Thereâ€™s much wisdom in this simple sentence.
The fact is, what you donâ€™t
schedule may never get done. If you donâ€™t take the time to identify your
priorities and find a place for them on your calendar, itâ€™s all too easy for
weeks and months to slip by without completing those unscheduled tasks.
Whatâ€™s on your schedule? If you
think about it, even if you arenâ€™t formally scheduling tasks, much of your time
is already scheduled for you.
Looking at the big picture, you
may have a significant chunk of your timeâ€”8+ hoursâ€”required for work, either
for an employer or yourself. (If itâ€™s the former, youâ€™ll have some commute time
to build in, too.) Sleeping gobbles up around another 8 hours. Youâ€™ve got life
maintenance to consider, from cleaning up to paying billsâ€”and donâ€™t forget
showers! If thatâ€™s roughly another 4 hours of time, we may be lucky to have 3
or 4 hours left to do with as we please each day.
Thatâ€™s a tight schedule, and itâ€™s
what most people face these days. To make the most of it, use these tips to
start scheduling by design rather than default and improve your productivity:
Make time to schedule. Yes, scheduling is an activity unto itself. Identify a regular weekly time that
you will commit to organizing and firming up your schedule of commitments to
yourself and others. You might choose the end of each weekend, or the start of
each work week.
Brainstorm your to-do list. Before you begin scheduling, itâ€™s a good idea to generate a
complete list of everything that you hope to accomplish. You might break this
â€œbrain dumpâ€ into two broad categories: work to-dos, and personal to-dos. By
taking the time to complete this step, youâ€™ll give yourself a clear and
complete picture of how much you have on your plate in these two key arenas.
Rank tasks by priority. Consider each item on both your work and personal brainstorm list, and give
each a ranking from 1 to 3 in terms of priority level. (Items identified as â€œ1â€
are your highest priorities.) Then reorganize each list so that your most
important tasks appear at the top.
Calendar your most important tasks. Donâ€™t stop now; this next step is the most important one.
You need to move your highest-priority items off of your to-do list and
schedule them into definite time slots on your calendar. Taking the time to do
this is the difference between what actually gets scheduled (and done), and
what may languish buried in a long list, never to be accomplished.
Be realistic. As you
create your weekly schedule, keep in mind the hours you actually have each day
for work, sleep, maintenance tasks, and discretionary time. Allow more than
enough time in your schedule for each task that you calendar, building in some
contingency time to cover interruptions and other unexpected derailments that
often occur on the job or at home.
Schedule lower-pri tasks on future weeks. Most likely, your level â€œ1â€ priorities will effectively
use up the time available in your schedule each week. Donâ€™t overschedule by
adding lower-priority items to your immediate calendar commitments. Instead,
either keep those activities on your brainstorm list to revisit next week, or
schedule them later in the month. Keep this week clear for what most needs to
happenâ€”and youâ€™ll be more likely to reach your highest goals.
Strong is a Life Coach, Career Coach, and Executive Coach based in NYC. You can
find more information at www.markstrongcoaching.com.