Schedule to win: Crush your goals with better planning
It’s no secret that deadlines help people accomplish their goals–they provide the metric for efficiency and offer expectations of progression. However, deadlines on their own tend to simply induce extended periods of procrastination followed by stress and panic moments before their cutoff. A successful deadline is dependent on successful scheduling.
Scheduling helps evenly distribute the workload and ensures success with (hopefully) limited stress when the deadline hits. While this sounds obvious, scheduling has actually just become synonymous with ‘lots of meetings’. It’s a bloated catalog of meetings, reminders, and presentations reaching far into the distant future–months, even years at a time! The untapped potential of scheduling lies in it’s ability to not only remind us of deadlines, but to actively aid in the achievement of those goals.
We’ve become content with adding hard deadlines to the books while neglecting to schedule the work necessary to actually accomplish it.
It can feel difficult to create efficient, practical schedules alongside unmovable deadlines across a team, but it can be done! HourStack was built to help us get in the habit of scheduling as specifically as possible, while still allowing room for our estimations to flex with unexpected changes.
Hourly scheduling (Working ‘Task X’ for 5 hours on Monday, 3 hours on Wednesday, 4 hours on Thursday) is far easier to actualize than ‘bulk’ scheduling (Working ‘Task X’ 12 hours over the whole week). Bulk scheduling may seem like it allows for items to ‘float’ around to absorb the effects of interruptions and other deviances, but it really just ends up backloading everyone’s schedule. When a team member is designated to “Work on ‘Task X’ 12 hours over the whole week”, each meeting, delay, or other interruption inevitably pushes all 12 hours back towards the end of the week, causing stress and potentially missed deadlines. This ‘bulk’ difficulty is exacerbated the longer the timeframe, and exponentially so as more people become involved (Full Marketing team to work 60 hours on ‘Task X’ over the next 3 weeks).
It’s critical to not confuse hourly scheduling with calendaring by the hour. Blocking off every hour of the day leaves no room for deviation and, when one item is off, the entire schedule is off. Hourly scheduling allows a team member to work 20min here and there switching between tasks throughout the day, all adding up to an hour, rather than demanding an uninterrupted hour-long block of time.
Schedule a Week in Advance
Seven days seems to be the magic duration for accurate, hourly scheduling. HourStack encourages scheduling to be limited to 7 days to help users correctly allocate their time.
Of course there’s opportunity for schedules to change within a week, but rarely so much that the week following will be affected. Completing a task early allows me to alleviate my task load later in the week while going over my original allocation offers the ability to reassess the rest of the week only because I know exactly what I’ve planned. On a Monday, I can often estimate my workload for the coming Friday with a high level of precision. While it’s helpful to have a hard deadline in place 3+ weeks in advance, I would be blindly guessing if I were to write up a schedule three weeks out. Stick to the 7 day forecast and have schedule your hours with certainty.
If you work in a team, chances are you are using Google Calendar, Outlook 365, or another calendaring tool to plan your meetings, presentations, and deadlines. If you’re ready to accurately plan your week, try using HourStack along with your calendaring tool and make your deadlines successful!