Great thoughts, Jesse!
Having a packed schedule certainly helps me accomplish more of what I’m scheduling, but doesn’t take into account happy accidents, like meaningful conversations or taking advantage of good weather for some Troy Stories interviews. This is especially true when I’m working in a public location like a co-working space. I think I’m okay with this, but I do “break” the schedule from time to time.
One thing that helped me most was consciously deciding against the feeling that I’m breaking the schedule. It can’t be broken. It’s moldable and pliable. It can be infinitely iterated upon. Part of the reason I block out tomorrow’s calendar with generalities like “[Daily Work]” that get replaced with more specifics at the end of today is that it gets me in the habit of replacing. I can always replace a slot. As easily as I can replace a “[Daily Work]” with “Round 2 of homepage comps,” I can also replace a “[Daily Work]” with “Go to the park.”
That approach makes me ever-conscious of what I’m prioritizing. Replacing “Round 2 of homepage comps” with “Go to the park” makes me stop and think: is going to the park today higher priority than those homepage comps? The answer changes depending on the day, but forcing myself to do the task of replacing almost always makes me stop to think about it. The biggest waste for me is when I don’t realize I spent effort on something that ultimately didn’t matter.
I’ve been experimenting with leaving small, intentional gaps in my day, almost like people stash “mad money”. That way, it can be used either for catching up or getting ahead as the need arises.
Ha! I’ve never been able to make that strategy work. Budgeting time is like budgeting money for me. I’m a spender! If I have money left over in my bank account, you better believe it’s getting spent. But, if that money is already accounted for (to bills or savings or investment or whatever), then I can be sure that what’s left over is really there for me to buy even more sneakers.
That said, I think the key in what you described is the intention part. If you’re doing things on purpose, you’ll rarely go wrong!