Nov 01, 2018
With our time increasingly squeezed by endless activities, scheduling can help you make the most of the hours you have.
Modern life is complicated. Trying to fit everything into the 24 hours of the day sometimes feels like playing Tetris with time. We’re willing to bet that you’ve wished for more hours in the day at least once in the last week, or heard the same sentiments from a friend or work colleague. Intense and never-ending busyness is a modern epidemic.
Then at the same time, there’s the productivity problem. Many of us find that our precious time keeps slipping away from us without any real achievements to show for it. Where does it go?! Sometimes it’s procrastination, other times it’s frustration or stress, invariably Instagram or YouTube has something to do with it! There are many reasons why we fail at being productive.
However, there is one super simple tactic that can really help to solve both the time and the productivity problem: scheduling.
Proper scheduling is more than creating a ‘to do’ list. Proper scheduling means divvying up the time you have to assigned blocks and tasks – and then sticking to those tasks. By nailing down your focus to those allotted activities, you’ll thereby reduce time-stress, and (perhaps most importantly) use your time as efficiently as you can. People who use scheduling find that the structure it provides brings huge productivity gains, as well as leaving them with far more extra time than they thought they’d have.
Tips for scheduling
- Decide on increments. The amount of time you devote to your tasks is up to you – and, obviously, some things take longer than others – but we’d recommend 60 minute increments as a good starting point. Focus on one task for 60 minutes, and then switch to another for the next schedule block. This helps you to maintain focus and keeps your mind fresh – it’s hard to get bored by and distracted from something in just an hour. Elon Musk reportedly slices his time down into five-minute increments, however you probably don’t need to micro-schedule to this extent if you’re not running a global tech empire!
- Pick your weapon. There are tons of fantastic scheduling tools available. Analogue devotees will get a lot from Bullet Journals and the like, whereas if you’re more digitally minded, you can’t go far wrong with Google Calendar (which has the advantage of being free). You might have to make a few adjustments to the calendar’s settings (its default is for hour-long time blocks, but it’s pretty easy to customise), but once you’ve shaped it to your will, you’ll find it’s as comprehensive as many other tools out there.
- Block in fixed points. Some things happen at the same time every day, or are otherwise unavoidable. Block these into your schedule first. Don’t forget things like commuting, sleep, meals, and leisure! Once you’ve established your fixed points and how long they’ll take, you will have a clearer idea of the time you have left to work with.
- Prioritise the most important tasks. Think of your schedule like your budget, but with time instead of money. As with any budget, you need to prioritise the most vital ‘payments’. Give precedence in your schedule to the most important or pressing tasks and block them into the most appropriate time for them. We include sleep in the ‘most important tasks’ category, by the way!
- Leave some flex. The best laid plans of mice and men...Life has a habit of getting in the way of even the most meticulous schedule, so if you value your sanity, leave yourself some leeway, so you can alter your schedule (at the last minute, if need be) without compromising your productivity. If you’ve scheduled well, you’ll be astonished at how much spare time you’ll find floating around in your day.
- Use your schedule! A schedule only works if you use it. There’s something really satisfying about blocking in tasks and times...but you do have to stick to what you’ve planned. Sure, if events overtake you, you might have to make some alterations – but do try to stick to the plan. All that extra time and productivity won’t come your way unless you’re committed to the process.
Scheduling really is worth it. In this day and age, many of us are working late into the night, or over the weekend, cutting into our leisure and family time and endangering our wellbeing. By scheduling, you can not only use your time more efficiently (hopefully gaining more free time in the process!) you will also get a clearer picture of what your ideal work-life balance looks like. And that kind of perspective is important in building a more productive and fulfilling life.
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