by Josh Millar
A strong schedule can be a great time-management tool. But when you haven’t given your schedule the attention it needs, mistakes can sabotage your productivity. We can head into Monday with the best intentions, only to end up feeling exhausted and behind by Friday. Here are a few of the most common scheduling mistakes that can take a real toll on your time-management efforts:
Not recording it
Having a visual of your daily schedule is the best way to maximize its potential. Whether you keep it in a calendar on your phone or written out in a notebook, you want to be able to check in throughout the day. When you keep it all in your head, it’s easy to lose track of specific timeframes and allow distractions to shift your plans. A physical schedule helps to keep you accountable.
Not sticking with it
Speaking of accountability, you need it to reap the benefits of a great schedule. I know this tip may sound painfully obvious, but I think it’s worth noting. How many times have you made a great plan for your day that feels efficient and organized, only to be derailed by 2pm? Utilizing your schedule to its fullest requires a level of commitment from you to follow through with it. Of course, there will be exceptions from time to time, but overall, allowing your schedule to set some clear boundaries and respecting those are key. This is especially true with important independent work that is easy to postpone. If you’ve allotted one hour to work on a new marketing campaign, and a client wants to set up a meeting that day, you can be clear that you aren’t free during the window you’ve set aside for your own work. A schedule will help you value your time and stay in control of how you use it.
Not planning for transition time
When your day requires shifting from task to task, perhaps driving to a meeting and then jumping on a conference call, there’s a lot of physical and mental transitioning required. To keep your schedule feeling realistic, you need to anticipate that transition time. Whether it’s driving to a client and having to wait a few minutes for them to arrive or starting to work on a more creative project and needing a few minutes for your brain to switch gears, planning for transitioning between tasks will help your day flow more efficiently.
Not scheduling the unexpected
Though a back-to-back schedule may look productive, it rarely feels it. How often is it that you’re able to work through your entire schedule without a single interruption? For most of us, it’s pretty rare. If your schedule feels like an overwhelming source of pressure, it’s not going to help you to be more efficient. Instead, your schedule needs to support you. Leave some space in your day for those unexpected things that pop up. Whether it’s a 10-minute chat with a coworker or an emergency meeting with a client, allowing for flexibility makes it that much easier to stay on track.
Not scheduling in breaks
When the goal is to increase productivity, we rarely think to prioritize time spent not working. But that time can actually give you the recharging you need to come back to your work feeling more efficient and focused. This break could simply be your lunch break, or, if you notice an afternoon slump, it could be a brief walk at 3pm. You want to use these breaks intentionally to set you up for success.
These scheduling mistakes often stem from a desire to fit more into our day. While it’s a great intention, it can so easily backfire. When planning your schedule for the week and executing that plan, make sure these errors aren’t getting in the way of your productivity.