scheduleDo you ever over-schedule yourself?  That’s kind of like asking, have you ever put more on your plate (literally) than you can eat?  Keep that metaphor in mind.

To sanely and sensibly schedule your ‘work’ day, you first want to ask and answer this question:  “What does ‘schedule’ mean?”

Schedule can be defined as:

  • An ordered list of times at which things are planned to occur
  • A timetable
  • A work plan
  • A plan for performing work or achieving an objective, specifying the order and allotted time for each part (American Heritage Dictionary)

Highlight those words that are most meaningful to you, e.g., time, plan, order, etc.  Do you always keep these top of mind when you’re planning?  Next, ask (and answer) this question: “Where do you keep or plan your schedule?”

I would posit that there are ‘bad’ places and ‘good’ places.

“Bad” places for planning & keeping a schedule

  • Your head,
  • Your brain,
  • Your mind,
  • Your psyche

…are bad places to keep your schedule.  This is not because you have a bad mind or you’re old, but because your mind is a place for thinking, creating, musing. Your mind is not set up to sift and sort and recall and remember who needs to be where, when and so on. If you don’t already know this from your own experiences, I’m sure you do from observing others who try to keep their schedules in their heads.

“Good” places for planning & keeping a schedule

  • Paper planners
  • Electronic planners

One is not better than the other, but you need to have some type of planner to use. Research and find a planner that meets your needs and that you will actually USE!

What to consider when you schedule or prioritize:

1.  Each day looks different. Just like each time you fill your plate for a meal, your plate looks different, so too, no two days look the same.

Just as with loading up your plate at a buffet, you need to consider your portions. For example, you may know that every day you will be spending time on emails, but some days the portion (or time) spent is very small. On other days, it’s huge. This holds for meetings and all other projects, tasks, and items you have. If you are traveling for work, then much of your day may be spent dealing with some of the travel issues (checking in and out of hotels, figuring out how to use the internet where your at, finding transportation within the city, etc.). What this means is that you need to calibrate the portions for your other items in relation to the fluctuation in your email portions, your travel portions and so on. In other words, consider how the portions for your projects, tasks, activities vary and plan to accommodate those fluctuations.

2.  Put “puffy pockets” around the items on your schedule. Here are some examples:

  • If you think something is going to take 30 minutes, schedule a ‘pocket’ of 15 minutes on either side of it. Giving yourself extra time before and after an item is a wise thing to do.
  • If you have an appointment that is scheduled across campus and you need to be there by 10:00, you’d be wise (depending on the size of your campus) to head that direction by 9:30.
  • If a meeting is scheduled to end at 3:00, and it’s reasonable to expect it to be on time, then schedule time, when you return to your office, to ‘download’ what happened in the meeting, including the tasks you were assigned, the ideas you are now responsible for, and the follow-up you need to do.

To do any kind of sane and sensible scheduling of your work day, you need to have a place to keep your schedule and you need to mindfully create that schedule.  You’re smart - right?  So I’m sure you will want to integrate the tips from this article into your future planning.

ttpt_thecollectionAnd to keep moving forward on your goals for more peaceful productivity - which include sane and sensible scheduling of your work day, join others around the world who have accessed Top Ten Productivity Tips -  The Collection!





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