5 Great Scheduling Strategies — Choose Yours!
We’ve already shared how to plan your days, weeks and months with effective to-do lists. We love a powerful ‘to do’ list yet we’re all different; equipped with different skills, habits, mindsets, and biorhythms. Strategies for scheduling can be just as diverse.
The Collabio Spaces team have selected our 5 favourite strategies. Use them independently or unchangeably — whatever works best for you. Let’s plan! :)
1. Rely on Routine
Sometimes our days are so hectic that we can’t see any structure. Organising on the go saps energy and wears us out too soon. Ever peak by the middle of the day? Not the best outcome, right?
Try adding structure by setting morning and evening routines. Many politicians, business people and celebrities start and end their days in this way. Far from a modern phenomenon; historical personas like Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens and Beethoven exercised certain routines to help plan their everyday.
Setting Your Routines
- First, choose the part of the day when you’d be willing and able to do the same things every day.
- Define the activities that will help you:
— Recharge a bit in the morning to get ready for the day.
— Relax and shift the focus from work in the afternoon.
— Switch attention to pleasant things in the evening and wind down for sleep and the day ahead.
- Test how it works for you, adjusting the to-do list to match it to your expectations. Remove the time-consuming or unhelpful activities and replace with worthy others.
- Repeat your plan every day and don’t skip things. It won’t be long before this list will become a strong habit, paving way for well-organised days.
2. Know your peak productivity time
If your biological clock rejects the idea of morning productivity, go with it — it’s your biorhythm, after all.
Though most people work hard in the morning and relax in the evening, your own performance peak might occur at other times, and it’s okay too!
- Note down when you feel the flow even if you realise that the flow is already ending. Write down the estimated time of its beginning. After several such “measurements” you will be able to see your own pattern and discover what time of day is your most productive.
- In the same vein, note what time is the least productive and plan some rest instead.
- Use these preferences to schedule your days and see if you are doing better at work!
Naturally this strategy works well for remote employees and freelancers who aren’t obliged to follow standard working hours. However, if you are a full-time office worker, some companies allow flexible schedules or show more interest in negotiation. If you can prove the benefits of your scheduling proposals, reach out to your team.
3. Limiting decision-making
Decision fatigue is not merely an office rumour. Brain activity requires vast energy levels, and if your day is full of decisions, the last ones might be made when you are running on empty. Ever felt puzzled when looking through the last decisions of the day before? Give yourself some time to unwind and then come to the decision
If you’re a manager or a decision-maker in your team, schedule around your energy levels so that you have plenty for the crucial moments.
- Limit the number of trivial decisions. For example, how to get to the office, what to have for lunch, what to buy in a shop when coming home. The secret is to reduce the number of choices you make every day to free space for others. For example, you can order food in just one restaurant nearby, which menu you know well, or buy items from a couple of preferred brands in shops.
- Prepare templates for what you do often. These may be email replies, meeting agenda templates, and so on. The Collabio app offers a variety of ready-made documents ready for you to fill in with your data. The rest is done for you!
- Make important decisions in the first part of the day. The day will soon busy your mind with other things, distracting you from crucial matters. So, better deal with the priorities when you have a fresh glance.
- If you must decide on something in the second part of the day, take a break and switch attention to relaxation before getting back to work. It will help you to maintain focus.
4. Focusing on important tasks first
Dedicate your fresh energy to the most impactful tasks first.
Successfully coping with such jobs will motivate you for other endeavours — you’ve already done a lot and can certainly handle anything else!
- Block time in the calendar for important tasks every day. No matter what it will be. You will always start your day with something crucial.
- Don’t read emails or business chats before you finish your important task of the day. We wouldn’t recommend giving even a glance at the inbox. It can absorb too much of your attention. How can you be focused on the task when you see 10 unread messages awaiting you?
- The quick, minute-long tasks can be done earlier to save time but watch out; these can often bleed into others and soon eat into large supplies of time and energy. Wouldn’t it be better to spend them on important work?
5. Working in sprints
This final strategy resembles the well-known Pomodoro technique we’ve discussed several times. Though, sprints refer to more durable time frames (from 50 to 90 minutes). At the same time, you may take longer breaks between them — up to 30 minutes.
No, we are not saying that Pomodoro is ineffective! We suggest longer sprints for people who need more time to get into the flow and reach their productivity peak. This strategy is based on the Ultradian rhythm theory. There is choice in the method taken — it’s just a case of finding one that works for you!
- Try different options first and see what works best: longer work + longer rest or shorter time frames.
- Adjust sprints to your natural biorhythms to make the most of this strategy.
The Bottom Line
No matter which strategy you choose, scheduling is always better than no scheduling. Why?
- Your days are more predictable. Even if something new and difficult appears, you’ll know what time slot to use for this new task.
- Unexpected things don’t need to bring stress your way. Your brain will perceive it like a little challenge, rather than a tragedy.
- Productivity will only grow. When everything is clearly organised, no time is spent on rushing from one thing to another in search of better results.
So, choose one or several strategies to try out, and improve the quality of your work and personal life.