I’ve been a productivity geek for a while now. One of the suggestions that is often made is to create a schedule for your day.
The trouble is I am more of a slack geek than a productivity geek. So, I have always balked at the idea of being tied to a schedule.
Recently though, I have been working with a coach, and he too has made this suggestion to me. So, I finally swallowed my objections and went for it.
I now schedule out, literally every second of my day. It has been an eye opening experience in several ways.
First, holy crap do I get more done!
It’s pretty obnoxious actually. Over the last week I have found myself routinely having days where I get three, or fours times the number of things I used to get done. I am also poking away at long standing projects that are very non-critical, but still present. My plate is squeaky clean most days, and my pantry of projects is getting that way too! It’s awesome.
Second, I had some wrong headedness about schedules that it took me trying one out to see.
This complaint that I had been holding on to went something like, “Schedule? No way! I worked hard to get out of an office gig! Ain’t no way I am going to let someone tell me when I need to do what!” You see the problem there? By scheduling myself, I am the one telling me when I need to do what. It’s a beautiful thing. I get to plug work time in when I know I have my most productive hours. I get to schedule in reading time too! I am getting so caught up on my reading it’s ridiculous! When you schedule yourself, you don’t have to hold to anyone else’s expectations. Want to tackle that blog piece at 2am? Go for it! It’s your schedule!
Third, I get to schedule in more than just work.
Meditation time, exercise time, super ample amounts of sleep, and did I mention reading? The reading part is pretty great. I also have a special part of my schedule for the evenings. I put in blocks labeled, “Fuck it.” These are times when I do whatever comes to mind. Catching up on video games, or TV series, or more reading, or catching a movie with a friend, or whatever. I am a big fan of the work of John C. Parkin, and his book, F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way.
Fourth, and this rolls into the whole “fuck it” thing, I find an enormous freedom and relief in my body, mind, and soul at the end of the day.
Having had a day where I know I achieved things, and where I know I am set to do the same the next day, I get to let go and really relax and do whatever. It’s a subtle, but powerful feeling.
There are a couple of tricks that go into the way I run my schedule which might be helpful.
To begin, every single moment is scheduled. However, this is not so that I have to be stuck doing X at time Y, no matter what! Rather, these are time blocks I have chosen to dedicate to a certain activity, and that activity dominates my effort during that time. I allow for transition time by making the blocks ample in size. If interruptions come in, that’s fine, I just get back to the scheduled task as quickly as possible.
Next, I include an hour for “breakdown” at the end of the “work day.” This time is for seeing to anything that got pushed aside during the day, or for anything I missed (due to an earlier thing running over, or whatever.) This way I don’t have to freak out if the day goes off the rails. I can always put in the effort during the breakdown slot. Mostly I don’t find myself needing to do that, so on those days my breakdown becomes time for a nap, or more reading. (Reading is cool!)
Towards the end of the day I put in a half hour slot for “Review & Gratitude.” During this time I write a daily gratitude list, then I review how the day went in terms of my schedule. How many things did I say I would do? How many did I not do when I said I would do them? What did I do instead? Did those things that missed their time get done at all? (Like, during the breakdown.)
I schedule the next day while going through my “review & gratitude” block so I have a fresh idea of what is working, and what needs adjusting. Early on I found my mornings were a bit too crammed, and being not the morning person I am, things slipped a bit. After two days it became clear an adjustment was needed. The review period allowed me to see that clearly.
In order to keep my work flow on track, and my projects seen to, I use WorkFlowy. If you haven’t tried WorkFlowy, I highly recommend it! You can check it out at, workflowy.com. It’s everything you could want a to-do list and project management tool to be! The tutorials are easy to follow, and it’s terribly easy to use. Best of all, the free version is more than adequate to my purposes. (If you’d like to lend me a hand you can use my affiliate link https://workflowy.com/?ref=122a2725. That way, both you and I will get an extra 250 new items allowed per month. Thanks!)
In my schedule I put in half hour blocks to check on email. I put those right before my work blocks, and I pop to-do’s into WorkFlowy as I go through my email. Then, when the work block starts, I can easily see (and track) what needs doing.
If you are like me, this level of planning might seem a bit intimidating. I totally identify with that feeling! However, once you actually start doing it, it moves along quite well. As I mentioned before, I am now being much more productive, and I find myself feeling much freer and less emotionally burdened. Especially during my nightly “fuck it” slots!
Give it a try! I think you’ll like it! And, please do let me know how it works for you in the comments.
If you are already an experienced scheduler, I would love to hear from you too! Leave any tips and tricks in the comments so everyone can benefit.