by Mandy Green, Busy Coach
Usually, I plan my to-do list the night before and then work my list.
I am always on the lookout for more efficient ways to make progress as a coach.
For the last 2 weeks, I have been in experiment mode and instead of planning and working my to-do list, I instead took a different approach and scheduled every minute of my work week.
Actually, I have been blown away at the impact of doing so.
In a conversation with a coach of mine about how I was planning and executing on the goals I had set, I was told this:
“You can’t call something a distraction unless you know what it’s distracting you from…If you don’t schedule your day, someone else will. So we can use a technique that psychologists call implementation intentions — which is a fancy way of saying planning out what we will do and when we will do it — to make sure that we become more likely to do the things we really want to do.”
I typically only put meetings in my calendar, but those words resonated with me and I was curious to see what would happen if I scheduled all of my time so I gave it a shot.
Here’s What I Did…
Each night I took 10 minutes to plot out my schedule for the next day.
In addition to whatever meetings or commitments I already had on my calendar for the day, I accounted for every other minute of the day with other work I wanted to do or things I hoped to accomplish.
To do this, I went through my to do list, decided what was most important to get done the following day, and slotted those items into specific times during the day when I would work on them.
I also scheduled specific times to check email, make phone calls, eat lunch, and even take breaks.
It wasn’t difficult to do and took less than 10 minutes most nights.
The next day I didn’t even look at my to do list — I simply followed the schedule I created and worked accordingly.
I was shocked that from the first day I did it, I discovered the following things:
I Got More Done
No matter how hard you work or how productive you think you may be, I guarantee you waste time during your day.
You don’t need to work every second of the day — breaks are not “wasted” time — but you waste time multitasking, working on projects that are less important than others, and meandering around your work instead of being focused on getting it done.
Scheduling every minute of your day prevents that from happening.
You don’t have to spend time figuring out what to work on, you don’t have to arbitrarily decide when it’s time to stop working on one project and move on to the next, and you don’t have to worry whether your efforts are focused on the most important priorities or not.
By removing the decisions about what to do from your day, you enable yourself to get more done.
I Felt Less Stressed and More in Control
When you schedule your time, you take control of how you spend it.
This prevents you from being overly reactive to emails, phone calls, and work that isn’t actually a priority for you.
Scheduling your day in advance also frees you from repeatedly staring at your To Do list which has a huge impact.
It’s a little thing, but removing the constant reminder of what you haven’t done from your workday helps you feel better about what you get done.
I Did Work I’d Avoided
A bunch of stuff on my To Do list had taken up permanent residence there because it was work I don’t enjoy doing.
As an entrepreneur now, dealing with accounting issues will never be my first choice of work to do in a given moment so it inevitable gets put off for a long time. (As a coach, I hated doing the budget stuff).
But it still needs to get done.
So I put it on the next day’s schedule at a specific time and when that time came I noticed something surprising.
I still wasn’t excited to do the work but staring at it in my schedule and knowing I had chosen to put it there at that specific time because it was important to get done, I realized I had to do it — and it finally got done.
When you schedule something at a specific time, it becomes harder to avoid doing because you no longer can simply choose something else from your To Do list in that moment.
Avoiding it at this point would be directly disobeying your own orders without any real excuse to justify it.
When you decided it was important enough to schedule, you put pressure on yourself to follow through. And that pressure works.
This happened with multiple projects over the course of my two-week experiment, and I discovered this simple mindset shift led to a lot of previously avoided projects getting done.
If you want to get more done and feel more in control of your day, you can email Mandy at Mandy@busy.coach and she can help you work through your own schedule and daily planning.