Three Ways to Organize and Plan Your Work Schedule
Organizing and planning tasks have always divided people into the proponents of traditional paper calendars and diaries, and those who enjoy modern solutions to mark, record or keep track of the things to do. However, this distinction is absolutely unnecessary. After all, it’s all about using their full potential and executing as many tasks as possible, right?
Truth is, the only reliable tool, which always opens faster than any operational system, never freezes and does not require electricity to work is a regular paper notebook. Still, you can use it in a far more efficient way than crossing out and rewriting the same entries over and over again.
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Working with to-do lists
Why do we make them? So that we don’t need to remember everything. We all constantly keep in mind hundreds of things that are important, urgent, and to be accomplished within a deadline. The latter require you to set smartphone alerts, but a notebook and a pen are really more than enough. No one is able to remember about all details, so it is paramount for us to write them all down in one place. The best one is that which is always close at hand. And if you want to remember everything, make sure to write every task down. We mean it – every task. Record it on one list that you can glance at whenever you think there may be something you need to do, but can’t quite remember what… Exception: when you believe that doing or delegating the task would take not much longer than writing it down, then of course don’t bother with the list and just get to work.
Categorize, execute and cross out
Start each day with marking tasks you are going to do that day. Remember to divide them into “urgent,” “important,” and “to be accomplished within a deadline”, and maintain a healthy balance. Should any of these categories cumulate, your life and wellbeing may be in danger, as attested by not only physicians and pharmacists. Which category to start with? There is no universal method, however it is good to start your day with a success, so perhaps it is smart to put something simple on the top of the list? Done? Excellent. Take a short break, and get to the next one, preferably from a different category. Than the next, and the next, and when at least two thirds of the list have been crossed out, create a new list.
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Remember about the hierarchy of tasks and your daily rhythm
Remember the “every day needs a climax” rule. Make sure you’ve set one task to be more important than others. The task may be important because of the long term consequences it bears, or because it is just challenging. Plan the execution of this particular task to take place during your “biological optimum” – the time of the day when both your mind and your body work most efficiently. Forget the old “owls” vs. “larks” distinction – our efficiency changes several times throughout the day and is dependent on lifestyle, nutrition and several other factors. Surely you need to know your daily rhythm and plan accordingly, so that the challenging tasks aren’t planned for the time of your afternoon sleepiness. It is also important that the execution of your “task of the day” give you the feeling of satisfaction. Even if you hated actually doing it all the way through. Apart from the “task of the day”, set three to five smaller ones. Put them in the order of importance as well. Of course, sometimes you will fail to execute them all. Everybody does from time to time, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
Plan some time to rest and be flexible
When you feel that on the particular day “the force may not be with you” – focus just on the tasks to be accomplished within a deadline. The pressure of a looming deadline will help you mobilize and you will at least feel that you give as much as you can. Then take a few steps away from your desk and look at the greenery. Resting is the third most important thing you need to remember when planning your personal and professional life. No matter how you define “resting”, it has to be taking your mind off the thing you’ve been busy with for the last hour or so.
Remember that planning is just making choices and taking their consequences into account. Irrespective of the tool, or the planning method, it is always worth to take some time to reflect whether the realization of your plan from a year ago leads you in the right direction. It’s presumably most important to maintain flexibility, and – while steadily realizing tasks from the lists you make – be able to stop for a bit and think about the overarching goal of your actions. And should you formulate a new one – immediately write it down!
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