Top 10 Tips for Scheduling a Productive Calendar for Your Week! by Danielle Lively
Danielle Lively Neal is a former professor turned entrepreneur who provides brand strategy consulting, career coaching and marketing services for clients.
Do you often feel scatterbrained when you are trying to accomplish something? That your attention is being pulled in a million different directions and it’s so hard to focus on just one task? With all of the distractions in today’s world from social media, to email, to cell phone to constant access and constant distractions, we often struggle to sit down to complete a quality piece of work because of all these interruptions.
While we can’t control your workplace environment (however, Maura Thomas can help you with your environment, check out her book in this month’s box here, we do have some ideas for you to help you get the most out of your daily schedule that maximizes your productivity!
Top 10 Tips:
1.Start with your high-level priorities. The MOST important things to schedule into your day are your high level priorities. These are the project based tasks that are very time specific and comprehensive. These are the tasks you want to give priority to in your week and allow the most time for. Experts suggest morning time before you begin all your other tasks is the best time to schedule these types of uninterrupted projects. When you are planning out your projects, make sure you list both the small and big tasks that are part of that project so you can be specific in your scheduling and allow enough time to complete things.
2.Schedule time for both deep and shallow tasks in your week and overestimate how long you think things will take. Obviously scheduling the big projects may be easy, but also ensure you schedule your smaller tasks, like pick up office supplies from store or order paper for the printer. They seem small, but they do take time, so schedule them! Use the Focus Planner from this month’s box to help you plan out your deep and shallow tasks in a clean and streamlined way with due dates.
3.Create a routine or task to bookend your workdays. Doing this will help signal to your brain that the workday has begun or that the workday is over and now it’s time to transition into other tasks, spending time with family, socializing with friends, working out, or general self-care. One way to help you stay on task is to schedule yourself an end of the day brain dump or make little notes to yourself throughout the day for tasks you need to add to the rest of your list. Then during your brain dump time, pull all these notes and your tasks together and schedule them! Use the super cute See Jane Work notepad to use for your scribbled notes throughout the day.
4.Schedule in some flex time or unplanned time throughout the day. Sounds counterintuitive to focusing, but actually it’s not! A colleague or child steps into your office, you need a snack and quick walk to stretch your legs, this is basically “unplanned” time. You may have blocked your schedule out with certain meetings or tasks but including some flex time into your schedule allows for that pesky traffic jam or that meeting that was only supposed to be an hour but the person is a real talker…things like that. Scheduling those flex times in will help to keep from throwing you off your schedule and will allow for that walk and kiddo cuddles.
5.Schedule certain time blocks that are for more reactive tasks. These would be things like responding to emails, calling people back, speaking to a colleague who has a question. It is incredibly helpful for your productivity to limit the distractions of your dinging email or pinging phone. Instead, set aside a specific time or times during the day to check and respond to email or text messages and silence or close those alerts down so they don’t distract you. If a colleague distracts you, simply ask them to come back during the time you have scheduled for reactive tasks and responding to issues.
6.Create your to-do list for family, social, work, and home and schedule them! Instead of making them the catch all tasks that never get done, schedule them into your days. These items are incredibly important for your productivity because they are important to your self-care and thus your mental health! You will always have a hard time focusing and being productive if you are not mentally in a good place. Not to mention, your family and friends will appreciate the attention! Use this handy dandy happy colored TO DO list to help you get them all down.
7.Schedule your breaks. Not just lunch, but also for stretching your legs or resting your eyes. Meditate for a bit or do some quick chair or office exercises. It’s important to get up and walk around a bit during the day to keep the blood flowing and give your eyes a rest. Also, schedule your workouts at a time that works for you that may also give you a reprieve from your workday.
8.Set an overflow day to stop you from feeling overwhelmed. For some people this may simply not be possible, but in some ways we could still schedule one day a week to be a more “reactive” and use the day as an overflow kind of day. This is the day that all the little things that have come up that weren’t emergent to be dealt with in that moment can get done. This may be where some of your brain dump tasks end up.
9.Tell people what you are doing. Get support from your posse! Enlist your family and co-workers and put a sign on your door that says, “Brilliance in process, do not disturb!” The reason it is important to let people know is so that they don’t feel put off by you telling them you will schedule them for later if it is not urgent. Simply let them know that you are really trying to stick to a schedule and be more productive and you have set up your schedule to deal with reactive tasks or questions during a certain time of the day and let them know when that is so they can stop back by. When people know why and what you are doing it helps them to understand.
10. Stick to it! Revise as necessary. This new way of scheduling might be really hard at first! But stick to it! Be flexible as well and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t stick hard core to it immediately and also take note of where you are having trouble sticking to something to see if there is some other category that you need to schedule into your day or see if there is more time needed for certain tasks.