Time Management Schedule: An Extensive Guide
Time, they say, is money. If that’s the case, then time management is at least as important as money management. In fact, it’s more important. You can always make more money. But we are mere mortals, and time is a limited resource.
Moreover, managing time isn’t just about your business. It’s also essential for living a fulfilling personal life. Without good time management skills, you can spend unnecessary evenings and weekends at work, when you could be home with your family.
Here are a few time management tips to help you build a more successful business and a healthier work-life balance.
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
Why Is Time Scheduling Important?
Time management starts with time scheduling. You look at all of your available time, and set aside specific blocks of time for specific tasks. When you schedule time well, you reap a number of rewards.
To begin with, you learn what you’re actually capable of doing in a given time period. This makes it easier to plan future projects. This also helps you ensure you set aside time for essential tasks, so you can meet all your deadlines.
A schedule prevents you from taking on too much work. You’ll know you have insufficient time before you commit to anything. Along the same lines, you’ll soon learn to build in extra time for unexpected events.
Done right, a schedule will also free up your personal time so you can work on your goals. You can build time for exercise or time for family right into your schedule.
Most importantly, scheduling forces you to prioritize. Without a schedule, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment. As a leader, you might end up putting out fires all day without working towards long-term goals. As a friend or family member, you might forget to make time for important events. With a schedule, you know you’re focusing on what matters most.
Time Scheduling Basics
The first thing you need to do is to schedule your schedule. It sounds silly, but scheduling is a task like any other that ought to be planned. Experiment with scheduling weekly and monthly, and see what works for you.
Another thing you’ll have to figure out is what kind of scheduling tools you’re going to use. If you’re old-school, you can use pen and paper. There are plenty of planners available online and in office stores. Pick one you like, and start filling it out.
Another alternative is to use time tracking software. This could be a free tool like Google Calendar, or a paid service like Microsoft Outlook. There’s no one right or wrong actor as to which software to choose. Find one that works for your job, and functions well with your devices.
Regardless, your main consideration should be choosing a tool that’s easy to understand. Make sure you can see the level of detail you need, whether that be weekly or monthly.
Now that you’ve chosen your method, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Here’s how to build a schedule.
Start With Your Basic Responsibilities
To begin with, start with your basic responsibilities. This includes not just your job requirements, but also your personal time. Need to sleep for seven, eight, or nine hours a night? Write it in your schedule. Need an hour to shower and eat breakfast? Pencil it in.
This is perhaps the hardest part of scheduling. You need to be brutally honest with yourself about your preferred work-life balance. Let’s say you’re gunning for a promotion at work, but you’re also part of a bowling league. You might find that league games interfere with working extra hours, or vice-versa.
Now you know how much time you’re actually willing to spend at work. That’s an important step. Next, you need to list your basic work responsibilities. These will typically be the things that come up in your review.
Let’s say you’re a manager, and you’re required to sit down with each of your direct reports at least once a month. Make sure to write that time in. If you have a weekly meeting with your boss, block that time off. You know what you’re responsible for at work. Make sure to schedule those tasks before you start going above and beyond.
Schedule Urgent Activities
The next step is to schedule your most urgent tasks. These are tasks that are high-priority, and cannot be delegated to another person.
If you’re a leader, it helps to schedule these tasks early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Which one is best will depend on whether you’re a morning person or an evening person. But either way, the reasoning remains the same.
During the course of a 9-5 workday, you’ll constantly need to respond to subordinates and others who require your immediate attention. Personnel issues and emergencies will inevitably eat into your day. Before and after the normal workday, you can find yourself in a mostly empty office. This is a great opportunity to spend uninterrupted time on an important task.
Build in Contingency Time
Contingency time is time you set aside for unexpected events. There’s no hard and fast rule for how much contingency time you’re going to need. Think about your job experience, and about how unpredictable your average workday is. If your typical workday is uneventful, you probably won’t need much contingency time. If you spend a lot of time dealing with emergencies, you’re going to need more.
This is an area where you may need to make adjustments over time. If all goes well, you may find that you scheduled too much contingency time. On the other hand, if you find yourself staying late on a regular basis due to emergencies, you may need more.
Make Time for Personal Goals
With the time you have left, think about your personal goals. Have you been thinking about taking up a new hobby? Practicing meditation? Participating in a Renaissance Faire? If you’ve got the time, now is a great opportunity to focus on those goals. Remember, if you don’t schedule your time, you’re liable to end up wasting it.
Look for Ways to Save More Time
Let’s say you don’t have time for personal goals. In that case, it’s time to backtrack a little bit. Go back to your basic responsibilities, and see if anything can be done faster. Another way to save time is to delegate tasks to other people. If it doesn’t have to be done by you, delegate it. Automation software is another potential source of relief. Depending on the nature of your work, many tasks are easily handed off to a machine.
Hopefully, at this point, you have plenty of time for your personal goals. If you’re still completely swamped, you may need to take more drastic measures. Ask for help if you need it, and see if your responsibilities can be divided up. If you need to go this route, having a detailed, written schedule can work to your benefit. It’s evidence to your boss that you’re committed to your job, organized, and out of time.
As you can see, a time management schedule is an essential tool for husbanding your most valuable resource: your time. By starting with your basic responsibilities, you create the building blocks of a successful schedule. After that, everything else will fall into place.
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