So far in this section of Mind Tools, we have looked at your priorities and your goals – these define what you aspire to do with your time. Scheduling is where these aspirations meet the reality of the time you have available.
Scheduling is the process by which you look at the time available to you, and plan how you will use it to achieve the goals you have identified. By using a schedule properly, you can:
There are many good scheduling tools available, including diaries, calendars, paper-based organizers, PDAs and integrated software suites like MS Outlook or GoalPro 6. The scheduling tool that is best for you depends on your situation, the current structure of your job, your taste and your budget: The key things are to be able to enter data easily, and to be able to view an appropriate span of time in the correct level of detail.
Scheduling is best done on a regular basis, for example at the start of every week or month. Go through the following steps in preparing your schedule:
By the time you reach step 5, you may find that you have little or no discretionary time available. If this is the case, then revisit the assumptions you used in the first four steps. Question whether things are absolutely necessary, whether they can be delegated, or whether they can be done in an abbreviated way. Remember that one of the most important ways people learn to achieve success is by maximizing the 'leverage' they can achieve with their time. They increase the amount of work they can manage by delegating work to other people, spend money outsourcing key tasks, or use technology to automate as much of their work as possible. This frees them up to achieve their goals.
Also, use this as an opportunity to review your To Do List and Personal Goals. Have you set goals that just aren't achievable with the time you have available? Are you taking on too many additional duties? Or are you treating things as being more important than they really are?
If your discretionary time is still limited, then you may need to renegotiate your workload. With a well-thought through schedule as evidence, you may find this surprisingly easy.
Scheduling is the process by which you plan your use of time. By scheduling effectively, you can both reduce stress and maximize your effectiveness.
Before you can schedule efficiently, you need an effective scheduling system. This can be a diary, calendar, paper-based organizer, PDA or a software package like MS Outlook or GoalPro 6. The best solution depends entirely on your circumstances.
Scheduling is then a five-step process:
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