Monday, August 29, 2011

Ten Steps for Taking Control of Your Schedule

It's Monday Morning, the alarm clock is going off and you groin just thinking about your mile long to do list. Wondering how you are going to accomplish it, much less add the children's school activities to the calendar and the holidays are just around the corner. Sound familiar?

Well take a deep breath; we are going to look at a process that while not necessarily easing the burden of responsibility, at least it will make it more manageable. This is a technique I have personally used or at least steps of it, at various times in my life. While I am not an expert, these practical and simple steps are the ones I have found to be the most useful.

Ten steps for taking control of your schedule:

1.) First take and schedule a 3 hour block of time turn the phone off and eliminate any distractions. These three hours will be well worth it. Now your probably thinking I don't have the time, trust me this is essential. It is also best if you can do it out of the house, coffee shops or a library work great.

2.) Make a list of everything you think you need to get done. At this point just work on the list, don’t worry about time frames. List daily items, weekly items, holidays, birthday, and projects, anything you think of.

3.) Now review your list and organize it. What I mean is figure out how often you need to do the items on your list and make a note. I use the following abbreviations for this step (and will reference them as we move thru the steps), but really anything works as long as you can easily identify it.

D = daily
W = weekly
M = monthly
O = other

4.) Ignore those items you have marked as other. You’re other list are long term items, would like too's, basically non essentials for day to day living. At this point you’re going to look at all of the items you have marked that you need to do daily. Evaluate each one and determine if they can be eliminated or moved to weekly or monthly. Here's a hint the first time I did this I was able to move 1/2 of my daily list off and some of the items didn't hit the weekly, monthly or other list. Leave these we will deal with them later, I star them for easy identification.

5) Repeat step four for those items on your weekly list.

6.) Repeat step four for those items marked monthly on your list.

At this point your list is going to look pretty marked up and unusable, that's ok this is your working list.

7.) Write three new lists. One should be for daily, weekly and monthly. These are going to become your master to do lists. Best practice is to use these lists as a master reference tool. Doing this you will not need to spend time rewriting your to do lists.

8.) Now that you have crossed off the majority of the items on your original list you started with its time to deal with what's left.

9.) Items that land on the other list are usually long term house projects, major car repairs, vacations, classes, etc. What I have found is I rewrite this list evaluating as I go along, put it in my calendar one month from the day I worked on it. Some of the items you may not be able to do this with but I have found that most you can. One month gives you time to get comfortable with using your other master lists, most items are not that pressing on this list and the importance of them can change in a month's time. I have done this step four times this year and am always amazed at what is no longer important in just four short weeks.

10.) Now what is left are the items you eliminated from your daily, weekly, and monthly lists. Keep this list and review it once a day for a week, if it still isn't important then you can eliminate it completely. If needed do it for a second and third week. If it is still important then you have time to schedule it at your convenience.

What I have found in following the above plan is off and on over the years, is that we tend to get so busy surviving that we forget what is truly important in life. We forget to stop and enjoy it. By placing importance on things that really aren't all that important. Believe me though that some things have to be dealt with whether we want to or not. The intent behind sharing this wasn't to give you a free pass to ignore the mundane things that must be dealt with, but as a way to keep life from being so insane that we don't have time to breath. Repeat steps all or partial as often as you need to.

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