What comes to mind when I ask you the following question—

If I could wave a magic wand and grant you any wish, what would you wish for?

The answer I hear most often is… (drum roll please…) more time. Unfortunately, I cannot teach you how to fabricate additional hours in your day, but I can show you how to simplify your life and feel like you have more time. In the following paragraphs, I’ll share with you four scheduling techniques that you can rely on to maximize the time you have, and accomplish your goals, while feeling more calm and centered.

Cluster Like-Activities

It takes mental energy and brainpower to switch from one type of task to another—writing emails to supervising staff to networking, for example. You waste your time and are less efficient when you have to prepare yourself to jump between several different types of activities on the same day. However, by scheduling like-activities together throughout the day and week, you can save time and energy. Here are several suggestions for how to do this—

  • Implement a weekly “organizational development day” in which you don’t have meetings, you work on writing-related or administrative tasks, and are not interrupted.
  • If you supervise staff, schedule “open office hours” during which they can bring you their concerns and ideas.
  • Create clear agreements with your staff and colleagues about which types of urgent situations merit an interruption.
  • Choose two or three days per week to have meetings, and do your best to schedule your meetings back-to-back
  • Attend all emails, phone calls, and social media-related tasks at the same time.

Create “Admin Time.”

If you answer email all day long, your week will quickly end without you feeling like you’ve accomplished much of anything. At the same time, being responsive and timely is key to developing positive relationships with staff, colleagues, and clients, as well as friends and family. To accomplish your most important goals, while still responding to emails and phone calls, I encourage you to plan one or two short time periods each day to answer emails and make phone calls.

Answer your most important emails first, try to keep your responses to under two minutes, and if you can’t immediately respond to an email after reading it, send a quick email saying that you’ll get back in the next couple of days. Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a completed to-do list, and you will almost always end your admin time with unfinished tasks.

Simplify Your Calendar

Here are a few pointers on keeping a simple calendar—

  • Have just one calendar, so you can avoid having to transfer activities from an online calendar to a paper one. Google Calendars is great because you can sync it across devices.
  • If your calendar has so many appointments that it’s hard to keep track of where you’re supposed to be going, color code the different types of activities.
  • Delete anything from your calendar that you don’t need to see.
  • As soon as you schedule something, make sure to put it on your calendar.
  • Block time in your calendar for each project category that you need to attend to during the week. For example, instead of writing down all the details of your to-do list on your calendar, write things like “writing time,” or “organizational development time,” or “finances time.” Or, you might have two hours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for “email and admin,” and on Monday mornings, you might have online marketing. Just make sure to keep your list of action steps in a place separate from your calendar.
  • Make sure the following items are on your calendar—
    • Appointments
    • Events
    • Deadlines
    • Things that must happen on a specific day
    • Things you want to take off of your mind and revisit on a specific date

Create Routines You Can Count On

Scheduling the same activities at the same time on the same days of the week eliminates the guesswork and reduces the energy it takes to begin new tasks. Creating daily and weekly rhythms and routines for the tasks that you regularly need to attend to is one of the most powerful ways to create habits that support you in reaching your goals.

For the next week, pay attention to how your energy levels change throughout the day and week. Notice your needs for introvert and extrovert time, when you want to go into work-all-out-campaign-mode and when you need a break.

Then, take this information into account as you set up routines and rhythms that help you work at your highest level of creativity and performance throughout your days and week.

Taking these four steps to simplify your life can be transformative. I’m curious to hear from you which of these was the biggest “aha!” for you and which steps you rely on to simplify your life.  Please share below!

And, I invite you to click here to learn more about how executive coaching can help you maximize your efficiency and focus on what’s most important.

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