Most of us know better than to dive into a workday with nothing planned or scheduled. In fact, I’d be willing to bet most of you lovely readers have your calendars color-coded, optimized, and packed to the gills with helpful reminders!
But sometimes all that planning fails us, and we end up procrastinating anyway. (Hellooooo Instagram rabbit hole!)
Or we get distracted by a task that seems less difficult or stressful than whatever we’ve got scheduled, and allow ourselves to veer off track.
OR we put off certain types of work until the very last minute, even though we know from experience that doing so causes us more stress.
Funny how a meticulous schedule can fail us in so many ways …
In my experience, what we really need is a combination of smart scheduling, solid work methods, and helpful habits.
We need to know ourselves, know our working weaknesses, and find practices and hacks that help us power through the procrastination and postponement.
So with that in mind, here’s a roundup of methods, tactics, and habits to help you build schedules that truly work for YOU.
Scheduling Methods to Boost Productivity
Everyone is wired differently, which means that there’s no single foolproof way to make yourself more productive.
Instead, we’ve each got to experiment with scheduling tactics that sound appealing until we find one that feels natural and rewarding!
Four timeless favorites include:
- The Pomodoro Technique: Developed by business consultant Francesco Cirillo, this method uses a timer to separate working time into 25-minute intervals. At the end of each interval, you get to take a short break. (Each interval is known as a pomodoro, the Italian word for tomato, because Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer when he was creating this technique!) Ideal for workers who need frequent breathers, and don’t enjoy plowing through long stretches of uninterrupted work.
- Eat That Frog: At the opposite end of the spectrum, this tactic encourages you to fearlessly tackle the task you’re dreading so you get it out of the way! It’s based on the old saying that if the first thing you must do each morning is eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. A great method for those of us who put off the tough work, then hate ourselves for doing so!
- Time blocking: This super simple time management method asks you to divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task (or group of tasks), and makes you focus on ONLY those specific tasks. Ideal for those of us who love our calendars, but are easily distracted by unscheduled work.
- Task batching: This planning process groups similar activities together to improve focus and productivity. For instance, you might schedule all of your writing tasks for Tuesday mornings, and all of your client outreach for Friday afternoons.
Which one sounds like it would work best for your working style?
If you’re not sure, commit to trying one per week for the next month so you can experience them all before making a decision!
Scheduling Habits for Organizing Your Day
The methods you use need to be supported by good habits, or else they’ll simply never get used.
Once you’ve settled on the strategy you’ll use to schedule your day, find a way to reinforce it behaviorally.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Do a brain dump: Before you dig into scheduling, write down every single one of your to-do’s, things that are lingering in your mind, tasks that you are procrastinating over, and so on. Then, divide and conquer!
- Get an accountability partner: People who checked in with an accountability partner weekly were 33% more likely to accomplish their goals than those who didn’t inform anyone of their plans. Can you connect with someone to help you be more focused?
- Prioritize: Which task is the most important or most urgent? Which tasks are revenue generators, and which are just maintenance? Make sure the high-priority work is both scheduled AND done!
- Plan according to your energy levels: Do your most time-consuming tasks during your prime time. When are you most creative? When are you most focused? Whether that’s morning, noon, or afternoon, schedule the work that needs you at your best during that window.
And Don’t Forget to Outsource!
As always, figure out which tasks you can delegate, automate, and eliminate to streamline your workdays.
Just because something needs to get done doesn’t mean that YOU need to do it yourself.
A great virtual assistant and team of freelancers can double or even triple your productivity!
Looking for even more tips and tricks to keep overwhelm to a minimum on busy work days?
Check out my workbook How to Organize Your Day Like a Boss! This 24-page guide will help you organize your days to achieve maximum results in your business.