Level 3 Task/Time Management: Scheduling

scheduling tasksIf you missed the previous posts in this series about time/task management, let me quickly bring you up to speed.

Level 1: To-do list

A to-do list is helpful because it keeps you on track, prevents tasks from slipping through the cracks and frees your mind from having to remember tasks.  But it’s less than ideal and can lead to frustration, anxiety, and misplaced priorities. See 4 Reasons to Dump Your To-Do List & Replace It with Something Better

Level 2: Daily priorities list

The next level of task/time management is to create a list of priorities each day.  By having a list that only includes that day’s tasks, it reduces stress and frustration.  Prioritizing tasks helps to prevent us from getting distracted by busy work and stay focused on what’s most important.  See Simple Step Beats To-Do List for Managing Time and Tasks

Creating a daily priorities list is a big step forward from just using a to-do list, but it still falls short.  For example:

  • Some tasks, like meetings, have to be done at a specific time regardless of how important they are.
  • Some tasks, like running errands, can’t be done during certain times (like while at work) regardless of how important they are.
  • Some tasks, like checking & responding to email and phone calls, should be done at least a few times a day regardless of how important you consider that to be.
  • You may perform better at certain tasks at certain times of the day.  For example, you may find that your best blog writing is done first thing in the morning even though writing blog posts isn’t your top priority for the day.  Or you may have some tasks you can do while kids are around and others you have to do when things are quiet.

So, the next step in task/time management…

Level 3: Schedule each day

After you’ve created your daily priorities list, get out your calendar.  Start at the top of your priorities list and put each task on your calendar for the day.

Pretty simple, right?

What will this do for you?

  • It puts everything in one place.
  • It keeps you focused on your highest priorities while still enabling you to do them at the time of day that works best for you.
  • It gives you a more realistic idea of what you can accomplish in a day.  If your priorities list has 20 things on it, but only 10 fit on your calendar, you now know that 10 tasks is more realistic. That’s a good reality check.  It will also prevent you from getting frustrated when you only get 10 tasks done.

I find there’s a huge difference in my productivity between the days that I schedule vs those that I just wing it with a to-do list or daily priorities list.  But I’ll admit that even though I know that I’m still not always disciplined enough to do it.

Do you schedule your priorities each day?  Why or why not?

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