A good schedule is a blueprint for a successful work life. It empowers us with a sense of purpose to know what we should be doing. Its about being smarter about what you do with your time. In fact, most highly successful people follow a schedule to get organised and stay focused.
If your time is valuable – and we think it is – here are our tops tips to schedule your day for success.
Create a morning routine and avoid decisions first thing
By having a set morning routine, you start every day calm and focused. It shouldn’t be a routine of alarms, panic and hoping you have everything. Instead give yourself the time you need to get ready, read, exercise, or enjoy breakfast. Choose activities that will set the rest of your day up for success.
Work at your right time
We have all heard that you need to be a morning person to be successful. This is not true. What is true is that your typical 9-5 workday benefits early birds. But that doesn’t mean night owls can’t have a productive day; their “morning” will simply take place at a different time.
Get in tune with your body’s clock. Pay attention to the times of the day you are most alert and focused. If you are the most alert from 10-12, that’s when you should work on the tasks that require a higher level of concentration. When you are at your lowest, complete those tasks that are repetitive, simple, or don’t require much effort.
Allocate your time in blocks
Once you’ve noted when you are most and least productive during the day, you can schedule your time accordingly. During those chunks of time, focus solely on the task at hand and don’t worry about anything else. Remember, there is nothing so important that it can’t wait 90 minutes.
While it might take you 15 minutes to complete a financial document, it may take your co-worker an hour. The opposite may be true for filing. By knowing how long you need to accomplish a task to the best of your abilities, you can schedule your time accordingly. Make sure to give yourself the time you actually need, not the time someone thinks it should take you.
Schedule for interruptions
As you schedule your day, make allowances for disruption. If you schedule every task back to back without wriggle room, you are setting yourself up for trouble. Not everything in your day will go according to plan. Set yourself up successfully by allowing a little breathing room in your schedule.
Start with something big
Common advice is that you should complete the most important task of the day first. The belief is that you will then go through the day satisfied because you have already accomplished something critical.
However, sometimes starting the day with the biggest task can be so daunting that you put it off until your panic monster forces you to get it done at 4pm in a wild rush. If that is the case for you, start by clearing away a few small tasks to give yourself that boost of accomplishment. Then tackle the big stuff. Just make sure you don’t allow the small stuff to carry you away. Schedule your time accordingly and stick to it.
Set your schedule with purpose. If your calendar is jammed packed with other people’s priorities, you will never accomplish your own. Schedule your day to ensure you have enough time to do all the things you need to do. You may feel like you are being rude by putting your own priorities first. Don’t. It is important to ensure that the tasks that are critical to your position are accomplished first. Only then can you truly focus on others’ priorities without being pre-occupied with what’s on your own agenda.
Batch tasks together
Multi-tasking is a myth: it just kills productivity. Instead, start batching similar tasks together and getting them done in one chunk of time. For example, do all your calling in one batch, and then do all the project work in another. Batching tasks allows you to focus without the distractions that come from multi-tasking.
Be kind to your brain and give it a break. When you find yourself in a rut, get up from your desk and move around. For an extra boost, pair your break with a trip outside. That way you come back refreshed and ready to get more done. If you struggle to take a break, schedule it in. If you have time specifically set aside there is no room for the “I’m too busy” excuse.
Accept you might not get it all done
Unless you are superhuman, you may not get everything done in one day. Often, you will not be able to finish an entire project all in one go. Instead, divide it out into sections to be completed. That way you can celebrate accomplishing those specific milestones instead of getting frustrated when you don’t finish everything at once.
Your brain is mostly water. Dehydration affects mental function. Staying hydrated will increase your concentration, problem-solving skills, reaction time, memory function, and it will improve your mood, and reduce stress. Drink a glass of water and stay smart – in fact drink several.
Keep 15 minutes free at the end of every work day
This time isn’t for social media, it’s to set yourself up for success tomorrow. Take this time to file papers, return borrowed items, clean up your desk, review your schedule, and write your to-do-list for the following day. Include those things that you didn’t get to do today on your list for tomorrow.
Setting these last 15 minutes aside means that tomorrow morning you will be able to start your workday organized. You can begin your tasks for the day with clarity and focus.
Plan your day the night before
Setting yourself up for your workday begins at home. Before starting your bed routine, prepare for the following morning. Look at your schedule and plan accordingly. This includes getting your gym bag ready, preparing lunches, and even setting out what you are going to wear in the morning. Having everything laid out and ready will help your mornings run smoothly, allowing you to enter the workday calm, cool, and collected.
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