The wisdom of this week has to do with scheduling. What it is, my experience with learning how to schedule, and why I recommend it.
2018 was a learning year for me in a lot of ways. Every year should be for everyone, but for me, a lot of things that hadn’t really clicked in yet found a home in my consciousness as being practical and effective.
One of those things was scheduling my time.
I know, this seems like a simple, common sense thing to do, right? And everyone, to some extent, keeps a schedule. Even if it’s something so simple as putting a reminder in your calendar for your next dentist appointment, you keep at least that one, small task somewhere you can find it again in six months.
Part of my personal learning curve with this whole “running your own business” thing is managing my own time. Time management gets a lot of inches in advice columns and blogs. People have made millions of dollars trying to tell other people how to manage their time. There are so so many methods of managing your time. I’m not going to talk about any of them because I’ve done exactly no research into what the time management experts have to say on the subject.
What I will say is what I’ve learned about time management, and what I’ve learned is this – it’s a fancy way of saying “planning.” When you plan out your day, you’re managing your time. Duh. I stumbled into this idea ass-first.
My day job involves a lot of interruptions. In-bound call centers are like that. At least five times a day, I find myself saying “just once I would like to start something and finish it without being interrupted.” It’s incredibly distracting and as frustrating as it sounds, which is very. What’s equally frustrating is the fact that every time you finish dealing with whatever fire was just dumped in your lap, you must reset yourself and try to remember what you were doing before the phone rang. My other unintentional mantra is “okay, what was I doing?”
What I’ve found helps with this is scheduling. There are certain tasks in everyone’s job that get done every day. If I sit down, write out each task with a prescribed time to work on it, it usually gets done, in spite of the distractions and interruptions.
Fortunately, when I come home and work on my career, I don’t have the same problem. My problem is Netflix. And Amazon Prime Video. And Facebook. And Twitter. And a whole host of other brainless, self-imposed distractions that prevent me from working, even though it’s work I want to be doing.
Scheduling to the rescue again! I have a limited amount of time to work on my writing career. If I know I have between 500 – 750 words to write in a night, a blog post to write, and I need to come up with ideas for the cover of my next short story, and if I have set aside time to do those things, I’m much less likely to spend my evenings binge watching the first two seasons of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. (Which, btw, is an unfair example. Sabrina is awesome and well worth binging!)
I don’t go overboard on the scheduling. There are some people who block every second of their day with things like “drive to the salon” followed by “hair appointment” followed by “drive home from the salon.” That’s a bit much. But giving myself at least a framework on which to hang all the tasks I need to get done if I want to be successful has helped me feel like I’m in better control of my life, and like I’m actually moving toward my goals.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t plan anything, but you want to be more productive, my suggestion is this - Try making a simple schedule every day for three weeks. Among big brained smart people who study human behavior, 21 days is the generally agreed upon amount of time needed to form a habit. It’ll give you enough time to learn how to do it, learn what works for you, what doesn’t, and see progress. If nothing else, you’ll have a starting point to work from as you try to figure out what works for you.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Sain-Exupery