The Fine Art of Scheduling

Scheduling is not something that I learned in school. I was given schedules and usually manged to meet them. Like a deadline for handing in a paper. But no one thought to explain to me how to create schedules. I thought that they just sort of happened.

In fact, they do not.  Your teeth don’t brush themselves and your day plan doesn’t get made on its own either.  It is useful to think of scheduling as a sort of work hygiene.

First what not do do. the death of any and all scheduling regimes is procrastination. When you procrastinate, you don’t just postpone doing what you should be doing now. You squeeze everything that is coming up on your schedule as well. Moreover, the longer you procrastinate, the harder it is to get the damned ugly thing in front of you out of the way.

So how to avoid procrastination? Procrastination is an emotional reaction to stress. It is running away from stress and in severe cases, phobia about stress. It is grounded in a belief that something cannot be accomplished. How to get beyond it. Emotions are not easy to manage and so I do not propose an easy solution. I do propose a simple one. Focus on granular — smaller tasks. Steadfastly refuse to allow your brain to wander from the granular. It is, in my experience, the only way.

Let’s assume for the moment that you can do this. So how do you schedule? A nice starting point is to embrace the 80% rule. Never allow yourself to overbook – meaning taking up more than 80% of your time. Why? There are two reasons. First, if you do overbook, you lose the ability to cope with the unexpected. Second, you lock yourself into estimates of how long things will take.

so – two initial thoughts about scheduling – go granular, and honor the 80% rule. Can you schedule that?

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