Ask Marcia – on scheduling or not scheduling regular tasks

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A few weeks ago I asked on Instagram/ Facebook (By the way, I only publish about half my Instagram posts on Facebook) if people had any questions they wanted answered, and got this great one from Laura.

I have a questions relating to calendars. Do you have a system for regular things that you would like to do but don’t want to schedule per se?

So, for example, your walks. Let’s use the scenario that you want to go for four walks a week but you don’t want to schedule them all out in advance, you just want to do them at any given time during the week. I know one option is to write when you HAVE already taken a walk. But what kind of chart/note/system might help you track things like this. Now when I use the example of a walk, it could be ANYthing – eating more fruit, three handwritten notes a week, declutter one room per week. Just about anything that you want to do but don’t necessarily know a month ahead what exact day you want to do it.

(this comes into play daily for me in my work with the dorms – snacks to give out, kids in for one on one time to play, kids in to eat a meal with me, sleepovers, etc.). So I know I want to give out snack 4-5 times a week but I don’t want to schedule the days a month ahead. It’s when I have the money/time/energy/food available. So is this making any sense?

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This makes complete sense, Laura.

I think the question is how do you still get things done without scheduling every little thing?

There are two types of goals – projects and habits. The projects are once-off but the habits are regular occurrences that hopefully will become habits soon.

What Laura is talking about are those habit-type goals.

I can tell you what works for me – monthly and weekly planning. If I have something like 4 socials on my monthly goals list, I know I need to be hitting at least one a week to reach that goal. Sometimes some are already scheduledΒ  so I only have to plan for a few, but that’s good to know.

Key thing for me to remember – if I don’t have an idea of when I want to do something, it’ll fly right out the window. This is a time management principle – if you don’t plan for your own time, others will. Or the house will need cleaning. Or another need will arise. So it’s best to have an idea ahead of time of when that thing you want to do might actually get done.

One of the reasons I love weekly planning so much is that it is a lot looser than daily planning and doesn’t make you feel like a failure on a daily basis.

Weekly goals | Organising Queen

I do weekly planning every week and write down everything I want to get done during that next week. Usually these are about 5 personal things and 5 (previously) business-y things, now I call them “The Blog” until God talks and I have clarity again. For those interested, I feel just fine with where I’m at right now – I feel like my books are out there and I’m always available to speak but the online thing isn’t clearer beyond my Instagram and this blog. So there we go.

Scheduling or not?

I have to loosely schedule. In other words, I never ever (unless it’s an actual lunch/ supper/ meeting-type thing) write down times that something has to be done in a day. That feels too restrictive for my personality type.

I have my list and then I look at my weekly schedule to see when the best day would be to do those things. Laura mentioned she needs to have time and energy. Agreed! For me, the beginning of the week is when I have the most energy so I like to put brain-heavy activities there (my frogs) and then I’m much more likely to get them done.

If you’re not sure what your energy’s like on a weekly basis, keep track of your energy levels for a week or so. My energy’s also dependent on the weather (!) and that’s why if I check the weather app and I see we’re in for some cooler days, I jump on that and make sure I use those days to get out for a walk.

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If you don’t want to schedule at all…

You’ve got to look at your weekly list on a daily basis. Just glance at it to remind yourself of what’s on there, and check in with yourself to see if you have the energy to get to it.

My weekends are very loose outside of my anchor events – weigh-less, gym and church – and I have a big list which I keep visible (open on my desk). So if I have 30 minutes before I have to do the kids’ lunch, for example, I’ll check the list and see that there’s enough time to organise an area, write a blog post, or organise some photos. The thing I could most easily leave and get back to again would be organising, so I’d probably choose to do that task.

Tracking regular goal events

Next to my weekly goals, I usually write 1 2 3 and I circle the number when I’ve completed a goal. It’s not difficult for me to remember on a weekly basis; monthly is usually the issue but I do the same on my monthly goals page.

For my walks, I always take a picture so that helps me remember.

I can track mostly everything else I need to track via my Fitbit app – sleep, steps, water, etc.

I do need to get better remembering to track things like vegetables….

I’d love to hear what your response would be for Laura. Please leave your words of wisdom in the comments.

Do you schedule your habit-type goals or how do you remember to do them?

Do you have enough white space in your life?

I had an interview with a journalist on Monday and we had a fabulous chat about all things time management.

During the interview I touched on the concept of white space. She seemed to like that so we spoke about it quite a bit.

I feel it’s essential to have “white space” in our lives. For me, white space is room to breathe. Something that seems to be so lacking in many of our lives.

If you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, check to see how much white space you have in the following three areas of your life.

 

Dullstroom Lake – April 2011

 

 

1. Travel/ commuting time

Leave a little bit of extra time when you need to get anywhere so that you’re not constantly rushing. Also, it helps to have some breathing room if you suddenly find you need to fill up with petrol (gas) or if there’s a traffic jam.

Stress is not fun so rather take some reading or work (if you must) with you to use up any time if you don’t like to “waste” time. Although my friend, Beth Dargis, has taught me to also just enjoy being and not doing all the time πŸ™‚

2. Daily scheduling

Don’t schedule all your appointments back to back. Some of you are saying, “but Marcia, don’t you always talk about batching?” Yes, I do.

If you do some batching, give yourself a solid break after doing a couple of phone calls/ emails/ etc. E.g. If you’re on the phone from 9 – 12, leave some white space and start another type of activity after an hour or so. And so if you run over with the phone calls, you’re not stressed and anxious going into the next activity or group of tasks, feeling like you’re already behind.

3. Weekends

I know weekends are the time to catch up on things but please, leave some breathing time.

Don’t schedule something for morning, afternoon and evening. Even two activities a day feels like too much. We have a personal family boundary of only one social per weekend day, and preferably only one per weekend, although it somehow doesn’t feel like an extra social if we go somewhere directly from church πŸ™‚

I am also guilty of having a to-do list of 20 items for the weekend which…. never gets all done. But I do schedule lots of down time to get things like reading, sorting out my house and weekly meal planning done.

Over to you.

Can you think of an area or two where you can build in some more white space?

If you need some help, book a Success Strategy Session with me.

 

 

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