The phone keeps ringing, people are forever asking for “a minute” of your time, an urgent project suddenly lands on your desk. How can you possibly plan your day when so much of your time is not under your control?
“When scheduling your day, the first step is determining how much of your time is controllable,” says productivity expert Laura Stack (www.theproductivitypro.com). Rather than attempting to create an hour-by-hour schedule, she suggests these tactics for effectively planning your time:
Step 1: Determine controllable time. Take the number of hours you plan to work in a given day, subtract time spent in meetings and any “uncontrollable” time, such as interruptions. The total reflects your estimated controllable time during the day.
Step 2: Review or build your to-do list.
Step 3: Prioritize your activities, writing 1, 2, 3 or 4 for each item.
Step 4: Assign “pure-time” estimates. “If you could complete an item from start to finish, with no interruptions,” says Stack, “how long would each take?” You’ll see which tasks you realistically can accomplish, given the amount of controllable time you have.
Step 5: Accomplish tasks in order of importance. Since you’ve already subtracted time for interruptions, you won’t feel like you’ve been set back each time the phone rings or a drop-in visitor pops by your desk. Simply get back on track after each interruption.