So far, we’ve looked at mastering the to do list and a time management trick to avoid overload. Both of these systems worked perfectly for me…while I was using them. Then, I wasn’t feeling well for a week, needed some extra rest, and got off schedule for the following two weeks. My idea was to take it easy, since I still wasn’t feeling back to normal, and I basically floated through those two weeks, getting things done, though not as many tasks as I would have liked to.
Which meant I had to completely reorganise my schedule for the next couple of weeks. I have a lot of things going on now, and I need to be sure I’m covering all areas every week without leaving things behind…and not getting burned out in the process. Or worse, making unreasonable to do lists that I can’t complete and then feeling horribly unproductive. So now I have a new system, which is basically a fusion of the two systems I mentioned above.
How does this system work?
I use a simple Excel sheet, with the day, date, and other areas that I’m working on: coaching sessions, business development/marketing/networking, webinars (I have a series of these I want to work through), business development exercises for a masterminds group I’m participating in, blog posts, gym, emails (here I list specific things I need to get out each day), phone calls, and errands. Adapt this list to your needs.
- First, I fill in each section with the sessions, seminars, courses, and other appointments that I already have planned in my schedule. Then I add blog posts on a regular schedule, since I’m not writing as much as I had originally planned. Once these activities have been added, I print it out for the first nine days.
- Next, I calculate which days are highly productive days (green), which days are medium days (yellow), and which days have lower productivity levels (orange). I have a fourth level for days when I have a major seminar or course and I know I won’t get much else done during that day (red). I classify days depending on how many hours of coaching sessions, appointments, Meetups, and meetings I may have on those days. I’m a visual person, so it helps me to see at a glance how busy my week will be using the colours. I use a highlighter to mark the day and date with each colour.
- Each night, before I leave my work area, I review my list of everything I want to get done the next day, filling in the corresponding areas on my chart. The following morning, when I sit down to work, I review the list and add anything that’s needed. Then I take another colour pen and mark in a clear priority for each one, using the open slots in my schedule (around coaching sessions and other appointments) to work on the priority activities.
Why was it so important for me to update my to do list and my time management organisation? Because my schedule has totally changed. Looking back on a previous post, I wrote that my high productivity days were my weekends. Not anymore: now I have seminars and courses almost every weekend for the next three months. Now, instead of being high productivity days where I could plan to catch up on things, my weekends have turned into days where I won’t be scheduling anything at all.
This highly organised approach works very well for me. For example, I’m the kind of person who needs to sign up for a gym to be sure that I get regular exercise. Every time I’ve planned to exercise at home, it hasn’t worked. With a gym membership, I’m in there at least five days a week. I need structure. Having said this, such a detailed system may not work for you.
How often do you update your time management system? Could it be useful for you to update yours at this time? What could you do to make it more effective?