What I’ve come to find over time is that highly efficient people tend to use some kind of scheduling system to help them manage their days in a more organized and productive manner than most. For me, a person who has historically operated in a less structured fashion, the idea of implementing a daily process that allows me to maximize the amount of tasks I can accomplish in a daily and weekly period is intriguing. (I think I’ve just found a new shiny object to chase.)
Now that I’ve taken on the role of a newbie creative entrepreneur, where everything takes more time to complete because of the steep learning curve, I can use all the efficiency help I can get. I mean — I’m adding more work to my already overcrowded routine and I need a way to manage it all. I’m waaayyyy overdue for getting my life in order, because what I’ve been doing up to this point isn’t working out too well for me. Therefore, I’m opting to add some discipline to my daily regimen.
Surprisingly, it’s quite possible that I’ve come across a tailor-made system that may provide a solution to my inefficiency dilemma. And, my new-found method has everything to do with a combination of hourly and block scheduling tactics. Now, I’m going to stop here and throw out a disclaimer before proceeding.
Let me explain.
I’m no expert here. This is simply my latest START for the implementation of a brand-new process into my life.
I’m actually going to try out my new system while I’m smack-dab in the weeds of formulating it. Yes, you read correctly. I’m going to literally be learning as I go (trying it out as I’m thinking it through); so I can’t tell you (with 100% certainty) that my system is fail-proof and will ultimately lead to successful productivity results.
I won’t be one of those people who says that my system is going to work for you; because in all actuality, I don’t even know if it’s even going to work for me. And so, I’ll be taking the next several weeks to go into the testing phase with my scheduling system to see what impact it has on helping me GET THINGS DONE. But rest assured that I’ll do whatever tweaking is necessary in order to arrive at a winner productivity plan.
And even if my scheduling system does work for me, it doesn’t mean it’s the perfect solution to your productivity woes. Then again, maybe it is. All I know is that there will definitely be some take-aways that you can receive from the tips presented to you today.
I define “hourly scheduling” as assigning tasks to be done at a particular time that usually takes an hour or less to complete.
And I would define “block scheduling” as assigning tasks to be done in a certain period of time, or “block” of time, that usually takes 2 or more hours to complete. There are usually multiple tasks that can be done in a block of time. And the particular order in which tasks are accomplished may not matter.
Tips to Get Started (for My Potential Productivity Companions Out There)
- You must have a mindset to follow-through with the scheduling process or it won’t have an opportunity to create results in your life.
- You must strive to stay on point with the time frames provided in your hourly and block periods. Or, you’re going to find yourself constantly in a position where you’re in a “running from behind” and “hoping to catch up position”. When it’s time to move on to the next item on your schedule, move on.
- Build in some flexibility within your schedule to address any “catch-up” periods you may need in your day. Purposely assign some catch-up time in the block part of your daily schedule.
- Establish a wake-up time and a bedtime. These times should be consistent throughout the week and all other “actionable” items on the schedule will fit in between. (Your block of time for sleeping will be that “non-actionable” item that falls in between your bedtime and wake-up time.)
- Look at each day of the week individually and brainstorm all of the tasks that you must get done for a particular day. Write them out, according to the day of the week. You’ll start to see patterns of repeating tasks that occur several days throughout the week versus those that may occur only one time during the week. Once you get as comprehensive a list as you can think of (adjust the list as needed), you’ll be able to identify which days will go by the same hourly and block schedule and which days have a totally different routine with different tasks associated with them. (Remember: one day’s schedule size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Make sure to account for the oddities.)
- Get the breakdown of your time slots (hourly and block) determined for each day of the week and start assigning your tasks to the appropriate time slots. (Remember: some items will go by the hourly part of your schedule and will need to be assigned to a specific time frame, such as 7:30a – 8:30a. And other items can be lumped together without assigning a specific time so long as the tasks are completed within the block of time established, such as 3:00p – 5:00p and 5:00p – 10:30p (what I refer to as my late afternoon and evening blocks).
- Use organizational tools to keep you on-time with the schedule. If you need a little assistance to stay on track, moving from one time period on your schedule to the next, religiously use sound devices such as timers or alarms to give you the slight nudge you need. And being a visual and more hands-on person, I rely heavily on physical planners/calendars to keep me on point with my non-recurring events like appointments and other important one-timers that need to be factored into the daily/weekly schedule. Oftentimes, I also use my planner/calendar to include any notes or details I need to recall that go along with these non-recurring events or other special reminders. (NOTE: tasks that aren’t a part of your routine are just as important to your productivity plan as the others; however, once the task is finished, please get back on your regular schedule as soon as possible.)
- So far, this framework consists of suggestions to get you started with your own productivity plan, but I give you free reign to create a custom-fit schedule that will bring you the true efficiency results that you need.
Schedules and Goal-Setting
Next week, I’ll give you a look-see at my schedule board and the materials I’ll use to make it. I want to create a physical board because I’m that visual learner that loves to do artsy craftsy things. So, I’m going to have fun with this assignment and can hopefully come up with something aesthetically pleasing that will work as an excellent visual reminder of my to-dos for the week.
I’ll also show you how creating a productivity schedule ties in with the Goal-Setting Process that I’ve laid out on this blog. If you haven’t seen my goal-setting steps or need a refresher, you can get caught up by visiting: