Outline Your Week, Then Outline Your Day

Yes. You finally have an organized schedule whether it’s magnetically glued to your fridge at home, shoved in your purse or on your phone. But did you outline your day today?

People think they know how many hours they work — that is, until they actually try to figure it out. (Robinson and Godbey, 1997) Many people in the workforce can tell you how many hours they average per work week, but many don’t realize they are leaving out the hours they unexpectedly took their work home with them. Your plans will have to change until your work is completed. So one must anticipate when their plans are subject to change.

For most, the need to spontaneously adapt to change is tough especially if it changes your original plan. Life will keep throwing things your way that you need to handle or take care of. In anticipation of this you should try and stay on top of your work or tasks for the week to be prepared for an unexpected challenge later on that could conflict with your schedule.

To be successful in the workforce one needs to be able to quickly react in situations that mess up what we had originally planned for the day. Just because your meeting with Debra in upper management got moved to an earlier time or lunch with the VP of marketing cancels last minute doesn’t mean you’re not going to have time to finish your work. It means that you need to be able to successfully work around this variable change and adapt on the fly so that your precious time isn’t wasted trying to focus on what to do next. Always account for variable change. Managing your time in a situation such as these is proof that you can accel in your demanding career.

Drafting an outline of how each day should go isn’t always enough. Having an outline that includes an expected amount of time that each task will take will improve workability and functionality on the job. That way you will know when you are taking too long on a specific job function so that you can pace yourself. This will ease stress and have profound benefits on proficiency at work.

Robinson, J. P., & Godbey, G. (2000). Time for life: the surprising ways Americans use their time. University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State U.P.