You have gobs of things to get done. We all do.
And, for me, the answer to getting it all done well has always been to calendar everything, and then work the schedule my calendar tells me to work. The reason? Because I know that there are only two tools that handle time and allow us to manage ours: a clock and a calendar, and it’s important to me to use them to my advantage.
But I’ve realized that there’s a piece missing in the “calendar everything” story. And this piece is what allows me to be incredibly productive without working longer days, working weekends, or holidays.
It’s simply this:
Everything I schedule, no matter how small, is scheduled for at least 15 minutes. And everything is scheduled in 15 minute blocks. There are many things I do that don’t require the amount of time I schedule for them, and when I finish early, I look ahead…to later the same day, or the next day, to find something I know can be done in the amount of time I have left, and I do it. This allows me to schedule more in the same amount of time, while creating more free time in the future.
Example: Let’s say that I’ve scheduled 15 minutes to Ping someone in Basecamp a piece of info she needs. And let’s say it takes five minutes. I quickly scan my day, and see that I have 15 minutes scheduled later today to throw the laundry in the dryer (because my life and work are integrated!), but I know that it won’t take 15 minutes (the laundry is four steps away from my office), so, I go take care of that.
Now I have 15 extra minutes later today with nothing going on. So, I look at tomorrow, and move something forward. Or, if there’s something I know I can do later this afternoon that isn’t yet scheduled, I’ll put it in the empty time slot.
This works for me because I’m a solid task shifter (meaning, I can shift between things I need to do quickly, easily, and efficiently) and it is how I maximize the amount of time I have, why I’m rarely ever late in delivering something that’s due (and if I’m going to be, know it in advance), and feel at complete ease with my days. If I ever do feel stressed with my days, I know it’s because something’s gone sideways with my calendaring, and it’s usually a simple matter of moving something elsewhere to bring immediate relief.
How do you do it?