Time management 202: planning the week in advance

I’ve written before about how I track my hours on pretty much everything every day (originally in a spreadsheet, later just in a journal) as a means of spotting inefficiencies and opportunities to systemize and/or outsource, but this week I took it a step further.  Or backwards.  Not sure.  Anyway, I tried to log my hours for the week in advance.

Basically I wrote my schedule for whole the week on Monday and then tried to adhere to it.

Here’s what was awesome: my goals got a lot more realistic. Instead of just “complete project X, I’m sure I’ll come up with a way,” I had a look at how many hours I was actually going to devote to it.  I’ve done things like “spend 5 hours on project X” before, but actually assigning those hours to specific times and days brought me a new level of clarity.

Also, I really liked how much less I had to, for lack of a better term, think.  Each morning, I not only knew what I was going to be working on that day, but also the day after that, and the day after that.  So many “what ifs” and “potentials” and “just in cases” magically vanished, and I was a lot freer to focus on the task at hand. There’s a potential cure for “entrepreneurial ADD” in there, I think.

Now, what sucked? Actually following the plan.  The first two hours of the day were great, and the stuff I got done then made it worth it in itself, but things drifted a fair bit after that.  And that’s OK, it’s the first week I tried it, so there are going to be setbacks.

To do something like this successfully, it’s imperative to shut off the phone and email programs. And cover up the voicemail indicator.  I lost a good amount of time because I couldn’t resist answering the phone, which blew the whole schedule up.  That said, one of the calls was for a drop everything, last minute deadline opportunity to pitch for a lucrative project.  The kind of “what if” call that explains the entire tendency to want to answer the phone every time, but also the kind of call that really doesn’t happen that often.  For this kind of scheduling system to work, I need to decide if I want to pursue that kind of work.  Ever. (Still waiting to hear if I got this one…)

Basically, scheduling the week in advance isn’t normal behaviour, and as such it requires some abnormal changes.  I’m still not sold on whether or not it’ll be worth it, but it’s deep enough in the “don’t do what everyone else does unless you want to get what everyone else gets” category that I’m going to try it for another week or two, or maybe at least until I can get an 80% schedule match, so I might have some more insights to share soon.

Just don’t call me to ask about them.

(Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, daily posts are done, partly because I didn’t schedule them in, but also because I think the practice was more valuable for me than for you, so I’ll stick to my journal for that and work on different content here.)





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