“I have a lot of great ideas, but no time to execute them all. How do I solve this conundrum?”
“Casey asks how to find time to execute all his great ideas. I assume he doesn’t want me to suggest a Time Turner. Therefore I suggest hiding in a dark room, talking to no one, until you finish them all. Your wife won’t mind! :)
Turns out his wife would mind. So I gave a real solution:
“Okay, serious answer about multiple projects: Trick out your calendar program, and for at least a few weeks, SCHEDULE EVERYTHING. I mean, EVERYTHING. It helps! Really!”
“From someone who loathes planning, this sounds like it’s going to be VERY. HARD. ”
Independent business consultant Randy Thio (@ideabloke) agreed.
“I’m with Casey on this one.”
“Okay, don’t laugh, but if you remember that it’s just a test, and you can quit any time, it will be less stressful.”
Then I promised to give them an example of what I meant. So Casey, Randy and everyone else, here’s what I mean by the Schedule Everything exercise.
“Schedule Everything” is an exercise that teaches you how much you can really get into a day, and where you can and cannot fit tasks. I don’t think anyone would do this for each and every day of their lives, but doing it for a week or so is informative, plus you really do get your most important things done!
The example above is based on the way my “schedule everything” day would have looked a few years ago when my daughter was younger. Click to see a larger version! Did I normally schedule every single part of my day? No, but when there were too many demands on my time from too many different directions, I did! And I did regularly schedule commuting time so I wouldn’t be late to appointments.
In this example, the busy work-at-home professional is married and has kids. The professional’s gender doesn’t matter, because there are now many men who work at home and supervise their kids after school while their wives do the nine-to-five.
Let’s go through this completely-scheduled day. (Anyone who smugly thinks, “Well, I would wake up even earlier and run up the mountain while meditating and doing laundry” should not be reading this post.)
5:30 – 6am. There are thirty minutes for stretching exercises and showering. This does not include dressing, makeup (ladies) and finding matching socks (men) — just the showering part. If you can’t shower in twenty minutes, I don’t want to see your water bill!
6 – 7:30am Notice that I’ve blocked out ninety minutes for dressing, eating (plus putting away breakfast things) and getting the kids out the door. Seems like a lot of time? Do you really get all these things completely done in less?
7:30 – 8:15am This professional has a meeting later in the morning, but can set aside forty-five minutes beforehand for a variety of business tasks: handling social media accounts, editing a blog post and contacting a few people via email. Note that a.) this time is set aside for business tasks only, and b.) just a few business tasks have been chosen. If something specific needs to be done, the details should be written in the description of this appointment. For example, “Congratulate Dave on his new job,” and “Proofread blog post about time management.”
Very Important: PACK UP! 8:15 – 8:30am Don’t want to be late? Make sure you figure in the amount of time it takes you to pack your computer, let the dog out, close the windows — whatever you need to do to get out the door.
8:30 – 9am Commute time! Scheduling your commute helps you to understand that you CAN’T fit in some of those extra tasks before your meeting because you’ll be on the road!
9 – 10:30am Here’s the meeting! The meeting is supposed to last an hour, so this smart professional has scheduled ninety minutes.
10:30 – 11am Another commute! Today this professional is going home for lunch.
11:30am – 12:30pm What to do with the time between appointments? What needs to be done today? This professional has already decided to eat lunch, send an important email message, pay a few bills and check in with social media friends.
12:30 – 2:45pm This professional has made an appointment with him/herself! It’s time to work on that eBook! Two hours and fifteen minutes of writing, starting… NOW!
2:45 – 3:15pm Those pesky kids need to come home! Driving to the school and back is really just one big thirty-minute commute.
3:15 – 5pm It’s time for a variety of things again! Notice that the tasks are limited. The most important is supervising the kids’ homework. Then there are two things that be done while being constantly interrupted: plan and handle social media, and look over calendars and to-do lists.
5pm Time to do whatever needs to be done to feed everyone.
You could continue this into the evening, but your plan will likely be scuttled by your spouse and your kids, so “Schedule Everything: The Evening Edition” might just have appointments for Twitter chats and favorite TV shows.
Have you ever “scheduled everything”? Was it helpful? Do you do it all the time? Let me know in the comments!