When you hear the term “daily schedule,” what crosses your mind? Perhaps it’s thoughts like, “Oh no, so much to do,” or “Gosh, no free time again?” These associations are pretty common, and it’s likely because we’ve all been conditioned to view a plan as something you meticulously create and then must adhere to religiously.
But let’s take a step back for a moment. Why do we plan in the first place? We plan to make the most efficient use of limited resources, whether it’s financial planning, personnel scheduling, or planning out our day. After all, the hours in a working day are a precious and finite resource. If you’ve watched my vlog, you’ll probably recall a fundamental principle of daily planning: tackle the big “rocks” first and then fit the smaller tasks around them.
However, this strategy only works if your entire day isn’t completely mapped out.
If no more than 30% of your workday is tightly scheduled, you stand a good chance of accommodating all your tasks. Productivity also soars when you allocate fixed time slots for routine activities. For instance, setting aside a specific time each week to plan your upcoming projects, deadlines, and essential tasks provides a valuable overview that can significantly reduce your stress levels. That’s because deadlines and long-term client meetings don’t sneak up on you; they’re scheduled well in advance and can be planned for accordingly. You can even plan time for preparation before these crucial meetings.
Why go through all this trouble?
So that the countless little distractions of daily life don’t nibble away at your time, leaving you scrambling to finish a presentation you need for an 11 AM appointment. Initially, it might feel strange to block out time on your calendar for meetings where you’re not meeting anyone but yourself. But let’s be honest: do your colleagues really notice a difference between you being in a meeting or on a call versus you working with full concentration and focus?
Appointments with yourself
In other words, while it’s common for colleagues to approach you with quick questions while you’re at your desk, they wouldn’t dream of interrupting a client meeting for a minor inquiry, would they? This means that these “appointments with yourself” can become incredibly effective productivity pillars, helping you fend off interruptions during focused work. Since it takes most people 10-15 minutes to regain full productivity and concentration after an interruption, the frequent interruptions we encounter in our daily work can be serious efficiency killers. “Appointments with yourself” can help mitigate this issue quite effectively.
But what do you do when your carefully crafted daily or weekly plan goes awry?
Perhaps because tasks take longer than expected or new, more urgent matters come up, even more critical than your previously designated “Priority 1” tasks? Well, firstly, the fact that you’ve only planned out 30% of your time can be a lifesaver, leaving room for unexpected issues. Secondly, remember that a plan is not set in stone – it’s adaptable.
Think of it like a blade of grass in a meadow: it sways in the wind, and sometimes it’s pushed to the ground, but once the storm passes, it stands tall again. Apply this image to your weekly plan – just as the blade of grass recovers after the storm, you can adjust your daily or weekly plan. When circumstances prevent you from doing precisely what you intended (the blade of grass swaying in the storm), once the storm subsides, you can return to your original plan.