Plan your day, without tying your hands

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management,Time Management

How often do you start the day with a to-do list? And how often does that list fly out the window by 10 a.m.?

The trouble is, says time management coach Patricia Hutchings, we don’t build enough flexibility into our calendars. With so many to-do’s and scheduled appointments, “things get out of hand,” she says.

She recommends balancing scheduled time and flexible time. It sounds simple, but it can be a challenge.
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Here’s how to make it work for you:

1. Schedule 60% of your week on your calendar, and leave 40% open, Hutchings says.

What to schedule? Appointments and meetings, of course, making sure you add time on either side for preparation and follow-up. But also schedule tasks that you know need tackling by a certain deadline.

2. Keep appointments and scheduled time to a minimum on Mondays and Fridays. “Monday is typically a busy day because lots of things happen that you can’t anticipate,” says Hutchings. “Friday is a last-minute day, since people come to you with work due Monday.”

Thursday can be scheduled heaviest, since it’s the day with the least interruptions, generally.
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3. Make your schedule visible, showing what weekly tasks you have and how you blocked out your time.

So when your boss says, “I need this done by x,” you can say, “I’d be happy to. Here’s the schedule as it stands. I want to make sure I can fit this work in. Which of these things can I move forward in order to tackle this instead?”

“Have everything on there that you do,” says Hutchings. “You’re going to blow their minds because they have no idea what you do. You need to demonstrate to them in a visual way what you do. Otherwise, some people think you’re just sitting there.”
Increased workload? Most people think the solution is to put in longer hours. But the better way is to master time management so you don’t feel overloaded in the first place.

Dozens of easy-to-use strategies help you …

  • Speed through today’s – and every day’s – to-do list
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  • Handle this morning’s e-mail and voice messages in less than 10 minutes
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