What do you think of when you hear the word “daily schedule” – PERHAPS “oh no, a lot to do” or “oh man, again no spare second”? Yes, associations like this come up quickly – that is probably because we have all learned that a plan is something that you do once and have to execute it to the last detail.
But let’s take a step back first: Why are we planning at all? We plan to distribute and use scarce resources as efficiently as possible – this applies to cash flow planning as well as personnel planning or a daily plan. The hours of a (working) day are certainly a rare and limited resource! If you have seen my vlog, you will surely remember a basic principle of daily planning: the big “rocks” first, then the little things spread around them easily.
However, that only works if the whole day is not completely planned! If a maximum of 30% of the daily working time is scheduled, the chances are good that you will accommodate all of the tasks. Productivity also increases greatly if you always schedule the same time window for routine activities: for example, a fixed point in time at which you can make a rough plan for the whole week: when do projects have a deadline? What do I definitely have to do in the upcoming work week? Which customer appointments are upcoming, when do I prepare for them? This gives you an overview that is sure to reduce your stress level – because deadlines or long-term customer appointments do not suddenly break out, they are known long in advance and can therefore be planned. You could also plan the preparation for such important appointments.
So that the thousand little activities in everyday life don’t nibble away your time and then come under pressure to finish the presentation that you absolutely need for the next appointment at 11 am…. At first it may feel unfamiliar to put appointments in the calendar where you don’t meet anyone, but “only” have an appointment with yourself. But to be honest: do your colleagues notice a difference whether you have a meeting or a phone call, or whether you are working on a topic with full concentration and undisturbed?
In other words: While it is common practice to ask each other “briefly” something when you are “only” sitting at your desk and working, your colleagues would hardly come up with the idea of taking you out of a customer meeting because of a small question, will they? This means that these “appointments with yourself” become incredibly effective pillars of productivity, because they help you to prevent interruptions in concentrated work to a great extent. Since everyone needs 10-15 minutes after an interruption to regain full productivity and concentration, interruptions every 3 minutes, as they are common in everyday work, are real efficiency killers. And you can do this quite efficiently with “Appointments with yourself”.
But what do you do if the nicely elaborated daily or weekly plan doesn’t work because things are taking longer than expected, or you are given tasks that you consider to be even more important than the previous “priority 1”?
Then on the one hand it helps that you have “only” planned 30% of your time – hopefully there is still enough buffer for new topics. And besides, a plan is not set in stone – so you can adapt it flexibly at any time: Imagine a blade of grass in a meadow: it moves in the wind, maybe it is even pushed to the ground – but it stands upright again once the storm is over. I invite you to transfer this picture for your weekly plan: Just as the blade of grass stands up again after the storm, you can also see your daily or weekly plan: at the moment you cannot do exactly what you actually wanted to do (the blade of grass sways in the storm) but after a while when the storm stops you can go back to your original plan.
Efficient planning is supported by a number of other parameters – my colleagues from PEP® International and I regularly post new blogs on this.