The things that matter most to you need to be scheduled — no matter what
The demands on our time are greater now than ever before. With information coming at us faster than we can digest it, tasks handed to us faster than we can handle them and communication moving at hurried pace, finding ways to fit as much as possible into your day is an overwhelming task to say the least. But there is a way to get more done of what you want and need with less disruption, and it’s a strategy that you likely use for some things already.
You have to schedule things. Not just the appointment-specific things, but all of the stuff that matters. You can do that by setting up time blocks.
The one great equalizer that all of humanity has is time. No one has twenty-five hours in their day; we all have twenty-four. How we choose to use those hours is what separates us. By scheduling the things that matter most you’ll be spending those hours far more wisely. In addition, you’ll be living your days proactively rather than reactively.
Scheduling: It Isn’t Just For Work Anymore
Scheduling blocks of time doesn’t just have to involve work-related stuff. Want to have coffee or lunch with a friend every week? By blocking out time for such event is nothing short of brilliant – why you ask? Let me explain. It creates a standing appointment for you that you know is coming, and it’s something you can enjoy doing but can be an easy stress free time break as well. During your coffee or lunch visits you’re able to disconnect from your demands, have invigorating conversations that stay with you well past your time together and enjoy a quality cup of coffee or lunch as well. The weekly get-togethers are something you can look forward to every week. Their value lies in the company you’re keeping and the time it gives you to recharge your batteries and replenish those creative juices.
Other areas you should start to block out times of your day for should include:
Date night with my spouse. Even if it’s at home watching a movie or reading together quietly, it’s something that promotes a healthy relationship. While it can be moved around, it is something that we’re trying to lock down. It’s a work in progress – much like a marriage.
Sporting events on television. I love my Tampa Bay Buccaneers – my wife a die-hard San Francisco 49ers fan (a house divided) do your best to watch those football games when you can — as painful as that can be. It’s a Sunday ritual that I truly enjoy, so much so that my family knows that when I put on my jersey that it’s time for the game.
How to Lock Down Time Blocks
1. Blocked times should scream out at you when you look at your day planner, online calendar or task management solution. Create an online calendar with a title that does this, use a vibrant color (perhaps your favorite one) and put all of the stuff that you’re blocking out time for in that calendar. If you use paper, use a different color pen or write in capital letters to make it stand out among your other items. In a task manager, label or flag it somehow with tags or a similar method that highlights it for you. In order for things to not be missed (especially when you first start doing them), you need to make sure that your eyes don’t miss them.
2. Share these times with those who need to know. Subscribe to Google Calendar (it’s free – duh) so that you can see when the other is absolutely indisposed. By doing this they know when you’re busy in an area that’s been blocked out and then won’t even try to reach you during those times (if they know what’s best for them) – or try to shift me away from them in any form. Same with other colleagues that I am working with. Whatever pertains to them, I make sure I let them know. If you don’t use an online calendar, simply draft up a standard email that tells people when you’re either available or when you’re not available. I like to use the former because it’s always better to show them when you can be reached rather than when you can’t.
3. Stick to the blocked times for 30 instances. In order to make this a habit, you need time to let it stick. Repeat the blocked time for 30 instances if you use a digital calendaring solution and make sure you jot them down the same amount of times if you’re using a good old-fashioned paper system. Not only will the blocked times become part of the flow of your week, but you’ll actually discover how crucial these items your blocking out time for are. You’ll also be able to figure out how much time you really need, whether or not that time or day works for you and much more. Consider this an experiment…and you’re the guinea pig.
I don’t use my task management solution to schedule things; that’s what calendar apps are for. I always look at my calendar when I start my day to see what blocks of time are already mapped out for me. That proactive approach keeps me on task – and on target to get all of the stuff that matters to me done each and every day.
Block out time for that stuff and you’ll block out all the distractions that can keep you from getting that stuff done. It’s time well spent – both now and in the future.