How to Schedule Time: 4 Experts Give Advice
On any given day, you likely have numerous responsibilities to handle. No matter whether those things relate to your work life, family time or ensuring you have precious minutes set aside for much-needed solitude, knowing how to schedule time is essential for preventing you from getting overwhelmed.
That’s not always easy, but receiving expert advice on the subject should help. Here are some worthwhile tips from notable people.
1. Plan Your Schedule to Allow for Singular Focus, Not Multitasking
Between Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, media company, television network and more, most people would probably assume she must juggle many tasks simultaneously. But, research shows multitasking decreases productivity by 40 percent. It seems Oprah knows that well, since she seems to prefer structuring her schedule to allow for addressing one thing at a time and with full attention.
She’s quoted as saying: “I have learned that your full-on attention for any activity you choose to experience comes with a level of intensity and truth. It’s about living a present life, moment to moment…That whole thing about multitasking? That’s a joke for me. When I try to do that, I don’t do anything well.”
If she doesn’t convince you to do away with multitasking and devote your entire effort toward one thing, try taking that approach for a month. Then, you’ll be able to gauge whether it works for you.
2. Break Your Day Into Five-Minute Slots
Bill Gates and Elon Musk are among some of the best-known names in the tech sector. Something else they reportedly both have in common is they schedule their days into five-minute blocks of time. Doing that could help people become more productive because it holds them accountable. Having such a specific schedule should make people avoid slacking off.
Even though these famous tech experts back this method, use it with care, and only when doing so is feasible. That’s because one common scheduling mistake people make is to schedule their days down to the minute. That could work if you’re tackling things that are mainly within your control, but not otherwise.
Things like traffic, bad weather and internet outages could disrupt plans any day of the week. You may decide to schedule several back-to-back five-minute blocks for one activity, but unforeseen circumstances might stress you out. If you’re a highly anxious person, this might not be an appropriate tip. But, if you find yourself getting distracted frequently, it may help you stay on track.
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3. Give Yourself Time to Prepare for What’s Ahead
Being a world leader makes knowing how to schedule time a crucial skill. During his time in the White House, Barack Obama stuck to several scheduling strategies. One related to preparing for meetings by taking time to read and understand any memos sent to him about those gatherings.
So, if you want to follow the former president’s lead, that means scheduling time for the meetings, plus the minutes needed to show up well-equipped and ready to contribute.
Remember, Obama had a full team of staff members to help him, too. If you find this preparedness tip hard to master at first, think about downloading some time-management tools that make you more aware of your strong points and illuminate where there’s room for improvement. They likely won’t assist as much as a paid staffer, but will be a good substitute.
4. Don’t Accept Too Many Responsibilities
Many people agree to every request they get, causing them to have perpetually packed schedules. Maybe they’re overachievers or trying to impress their bosses in hopes of getting a promotion. In any case, understanding how much you can take on and still perform well is essential when making a schedule. Attempting to do too much will likely make your performance suffer and cause your stress levels to rise.
Warren Buffett, a man who’s been extraordinarily successful in the realms of business and investing, confirmed the necessity of setting boundaries like this. He said: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
Turning things down doesn’t mean you should be automatically unwilling to pitch in where needed. But, this tip should make you pause and ask yourself if you might be scheduling more than you can handle.
Applying These Tips Could Help You Excel at Scheduling
Thanks to these expert insights, you now know how to schedule time like a pro. When trying out these suggestions, remember it’ll take time to get used to any new way of scheduling. But, the progress you make should help you stay motivated.
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Also published on Medium.