Scott H Young

10 Tips for Staying Productive While Being Scheduled to Death


BrokenClock.png

The quickest way to work is with a long chunk of uninterrupted time. With several hours at your disposal, you have a chance at biting off a serious chunk of those important tasks. But how can you do this when you don’t have a big chunk of time? How do you stay productive when you never get more than a half hour before your schedule forces you to do something else?

There are two main types of work: projects and events. Projects, aside from a deadline, don’t have set times they must be worked on. I’m writing this article just before 1:00 pm, but that isn’t because my schedule said to “Write article at 12:30.” Events, however, have predetermined times they need to be completed. I can’t just decide to show up to a class three hours late and still expect to be taught.

How do you get project work done when your schedule is a minefield of events?

Ideally, if your life consists of mostly project-based work, you have complete control over how you organize your time. You can batch tasks, get up early and compress work to finish a days worth of work into just a few hours. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for most people.

Working with small pieces of time instead of large chunks isn’t as easy. It’s easier to procrastinate in the thirty minutes between meetings than it is to waste a four hour period. Navigating a tight schedule forces you to quickly switch mental states, going from one type of task to another.

Here’s a few tips for staying productive when being scheduled to death:

  1. Morning Ritual. The best way to reclaim a large chunk of time is to reorganize when you are awake. Early morning hours usually won’t be filled with events, so you can squeeze extra project time at the start of each morning.
  2. Plan to Work. If you see an unused 15, 20 or 45 minutes in your schedule, plan to use it ahead of time. Working when you feel like it isn’t an effective strategy if your day is fragmented. By planning ahead you can save time that would otherwise be lost.
  3. Say No. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that you need to commit to an event. Project work can often have a longer impact than going to unimportant meetings and events people expect you to attend. The easiest way to survive a fractured schedule is to not make one in the first place.
  4. Make the Important Work Louder. Carry around a to-do list for work on your major projects and include deadlines. I’ve found that watching my to-do list is a good way to remind myself of tasks that would otherwise be pushed aside.
  5. Nuke the Procrastination Temptations. When you only have twenty minutes between tasks, it is tempting to just let the time slip away. Unplug the internet, phone or whatever your vice happens to be when you’ve saved a few minutes.
  6. Don’t Close Your Work. If I’m working on a project when I need to go elsewhere, I don’t close any of the windows, books or devices I’m using. This way I’m immediately reminded of my project when I get back. (Although this isn’t a good idea in a public place where your valuables could be stolen or copied.)
  7. Declare a Project-Kill Day. Clear your schedule for one day of the week and use it to make headway on important projects. If you can’t take down an entire day, at least try to secure a whole morning to devote to your projects. If you don’t make the time, who will?
  8. Don’t Multitask. One temptation to deal with pre-planned events is to work on several things at once. Writing an e-mail when talking on the phone, trying to finish a report during a meal or squeezing in work where it doesn’t belong. Multitasking is dangerous because few people are good at it. Instead of doing two things in the time it takes to do one, you end up doing two things, poorly, in the time it would take to do four.
  9. Be Portable. Depending on the nature of your projects, you might not be able to carry them around with you. However, just about everyone can take a book or laptop with them to get minor work done outside their office.
  10. Find Your Sweet Spots. A “sweet spot” is the area on a golf club or baseball bat that produces the perfect distribution of force for the ideal hit. When your day is scattered, you need to determine the “sweet spots” in your schedule. This could be longer stretches of uninterrupted time, or times when you have more energy. Once you find these sweet spots you need to make sure they aren’t wasted by procrastination or unimportant tasks.

Print Friendly
StumbleUpon It!

This website is supported, in part, by affiliate arrangements (usually Amazon). Affiliate relationships are always marked by bolded links.


10 Responses to “10 Tips for Staying Productive While Being Scheduled to Death”

  1. Al at 7P says:

    This is a great post. The last point, ” Find Your Sweet Spots”, really stood out for me.

    Combined with the advice with learning how to “say no”, one can create their own sweet spot in the day. For me, my best creativity is in the morning, and I try to avoid morning meetings to allow me to maximize the creative flow.

  2. [...] 10 Tips for Staying Productive While Being Scheduled to Death [Scott H. Young] Hier erscheint jeden Morgen von Montag bis Freitag ein ausgewählter Link zu [...]

  3. [...] Scott H Young zeigt 10 Tipps, wie man in stressigen Tagen doch noch Produktiv sein kann. [...]

  4. [...] 10 Tips for Staying Productive While Being Scheduled to Death [Scott Young] [...]

  5. [...] 10 Tips for Being Productive While Being Scheduled to Death | Scott Young Do you wonder how some students manage to fit in so much into their day while you feel overwhelmed just trying to keep up with your basic coursework? Scott’s article provides some insight into the type of project hacks that get the big things done. [...]

  6. I use a technique, which you probably wouldn’t have the same flexibility for in a school schedule. At work, a day or two beforehand, I block out much of my day by scheduling blocks of time for myself. This way, people have a harder time inviting me to last-minute meetings, most of which are useless anyway. In this way, I have a built-in excuse for saying “no”.

    Of course there are some people who are so used to me blocking out my time, that they invite me, anyway. But at least I can then stand behind my pre-scheduled time, since they don’t really know that these times are blocked out for projects and not other events.

    I normally leave most of my mornings unblocked, and fully block out afternoons, because that’s my “sweet spot”.

  7. [...] H Youngs Artikel “10 Tips for Staying Productive While Being Scheduled to Death” kam genau pünktlich, als hätte Scott meine mentalen Hilferufe gehört. “Zu Tode [...]

  8. [...] Lillich hat sich die Mühe gemacht einen wunderbaren Text von Scott H. Young auf Deutsch zu übersetzen: 10 Tips for Staying Productive While Being Scheduled to [...]

  9. [...] Scott H Young zeigt 10 Tipps, wie man in stressigen Tagen doch noch Produktiv sein kann. [...]

  10. [...] Plan to work or create a to do list [...]

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

Leave a Reply