Paul Minors is a productivity blogger who loves helping people improve their productivity so they can get more out of life. Paul’s new product, The Personal Productivity Toolkit helps you manage your time and get more done.
If you want to be productive, you must embrace the power of scheduling your tasks. You have two main tools that help you do this: your to-do list and your calendar.
Your to-do list is the place where you define and organize what you’re going to do.
Your calendar is used to identify when you’re going to do those things and how much time is needed to complete them.
When you schedule appointments in your calendar, you’re saying to yourself: “I’m going to do A, B and C by X date and it’s going to take Y hours.”
Once you make this promise, it becomes harder to procrastinate.
You will find you are less impulsive as you’ve planned out your time.
As a consequence, you will get more work done.
￼When you place all tasks you want to do on your calendar, it is harder to forget to do things. This is why I plan out my weekends. Even though weekends are treated as time off, I schedule time for chores and different errands to remind myself to do various jobs.
By having your schedule at the top of your mind, your calendar acts as a filter against distractions. If someone comes up to you while you’re working, you can ask them to come back later when you’ve finished a scheduled piece of work. When you know that you’ve a set amount of scheduled time to do something, it allows you to stay focused so you can get everything done within a specific time. If you don’t, you’re going to have to reschedule everything.
When you schedule time for tasks in your calendar, you’re literally making time for the work you want to get done. So if you have five things you want to achieve today, and you budget 60 minutes for each item, it’s fairly easy to add these appointments to your calendar. Then you can literally see how long each task is going to take and how they fit into your day.
When your calendar fills up, you can schedule work around other appointments and you can see where the gaps are and when you’ve got time to do more. So the next time you feel the urge to say: “I don’t have time,” think again and take a look at your calendar.
When you have your day planned out well, you no longer need to ask yourself: “what should I work on next?” You can simply refer to your calendar and move straight onto the next piece of scheduled work. This reduces the switching time ￼between tasks.
By the end of the week or month, you can look back at your calendar to see what you’ve achieved. It’s extremely rewarding to look back at everything you’ve accomplished and this brings around a greater sense of personal productivity.
Using Your Calendar
The first thing you’ll want to do is set up the individual calendar categories within your account. For example, you may have a category for work, home, sports, family and so on. The categories you create will depend on the major areas of your life. Don’t go overboard with the number of categories as this will make it more time consuming when deciding what category an appointment fits into. Just make sure they’re mutually exclusive and that there’s no overlap between categories.
When you use your calendar, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Some people only use their calendar for scheduling time sensitive appointments like meetings and phone calls. Feel free to try both methods, but I recommend you put everything you’re doing into your calendar. This includes workout sessions, social events, time for housework, time for mediating, side-projects, time for your job and so on. This way you can see very clearly where your time is being spent.
Recurring tasks are a really handy way of pre-planning the bulk of your week in advance. On specific days I go to the gym and visit family, so these events are set to repeat each week. This will save you loads of time when it comes to planning your week.
￼￼When you have all of your personal appointments added to your calendar, you can go through your task list and start scheduling time for everything in today and this week. Each task should correspond to a block of time on your calendar so that you know when you’re going to address each task and how long it’s going to take.
Set up an appointment at the end of each day that sets aside time for you to plan the next day’s tasks. When you start work the following day you can get straight into it without wasting time working out what to do.
You can now treat any blank space on your calendar as guilt free time to do what you want in. Down time is important so after about 7pm I don’t schedule any tasks. This is time for me to spend with my wife, watch TV and read.
Your calendar is a flexible tool and don’t worry if an urgent task comes up. You should have enough room in your day to budget for these unforeseeable tasks and move things around as needed. Make the time work for you, not the other way around. You can always postpone tasks until tomorrow and you’ll actually find that you constantly reschedule your week as it progresses.
￼Remember to schedule breaks throughout your day and make time for them in your calendar. Don’t worry, the world won’t come to an end if you go for a 10-minute walk. Just make sure you schedule time for it so that when you’re planning your day you can account for this time.
This is just a taste of what’s included in Paul’s new book, The Personal Productivity Toolkit. It has just launched and is available at a discounted price until October 29th at 12 pm PDT. Check it out today and start taking control of your time. You can also learn more about Paul’s approach to productivity with his in-depth guide on how to be productive.