As a productivity geek, I am constantly reading tips and tricks put out by similar productivity geeks. Some of these are great – I agree with them, perhaps use them, and will usually try them out. Others I am surprised to see recommended because they simply did not work for me and I have coached people into alternate methods that have worked so much better.
One of these is a recommendation I see to put your task on your calendar so you are sure you can get through all the tasks.
This may seem like a good idea because you can make sure that everything you have to do has a dedicated time slot and so you can simply plow through your schedule and get it all done.
On the contrary, this is the effect I’ve seen trying to follow a calendar choked full of tasks.
- Increases overwhelm because tasks now seem like they are more rigid and timed when on the schedule.
- Feeling constrained because it seems like there is no wiggle room. One mistake and it’s a domino effect.
- Working in a rush because we tend to schedule these tasks tighter to get them all onto the schedule, and we rush to avoid feeling like we’re going to miss the next task appointment.
- A sense of frustration at all interruptions … even the necessary or good ones.
- Make sure your schedule or calendar has only what you must do at a particular time. A meeting or a scheduled call. If it is something that does not have to be done at a specific time and/or on a specific day, leave it on your task list.
- Scan your task list to get an idea of what’s a priority for the day or week. This will be easier if you use and write your task using the following action guidelines, particularly using verbs to describe exactly what you need to do.
- Look at your schedule and plan at least 60 mins every day to check your email and update your task list. Think also about how much slack you need so that you can address the work that shows up.
- If the time needed for step 2 is greater than the time available after step 3, save yourself the future headache and renegotiate your task list now. Decide now what can be deleted, deferred, or delegated … and do that.
- Once it’s within manageable size use you’ve done all the planning you need, and you haven’t put a single task on your schedule. Simply look where you need to be to get to the most important things on your calendar or task list and head out. While there pull up your task list in that location and get as much done as you can.
The reduced task list and slack will make it easier to focus on what’s important without feeling rushed, overwhelmed, confused, or frustrated.