by Eric Barker, author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree
1) To-do lists are evil. Schedule everything.
To-do lists by themselves are useless. They’re just the first step. You have to assign them time on your schedule. Why?
It makes you be realistic about what you can get done. It allows you to do tasks when it’s efficient, not just because it’s #4.
Until it’s on your calendar and assigned an hour, it’s just a list of wishful thinking.
“Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. Now that you look at the whole picture you’re able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday. You not only squeeze more work in but you’re able to put work into places where you can do it best.”
I can hear what some of you are thinking: But I get interrupted. Things get thrown at me last minute.
Great — build that into your schedule. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Things will change. But you need to have a plan, otherwise you’ll waste time.
“Assigning work to times reduces the urge to procrastinate. You are no longer deciding whether or not to work during a given period; the decision is already made.”
Does this sound too mechanical? Overly structured and not much fun? Wrong.
Okay, the to-do list is in the trash and things are going on the calendar. How do you prioritize so you’re not at work forever?
2) Assume you’re going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards.
Work will fill the space it’s given. Give it 24/7 and guess what happens?
You need boundaries if you want work/life balance. But this also helps you work better because it forces you to be efficient.
By setting a deadline of 5:30 and then scheduling tasks you can get control over that hurricane of duties.
Cal calls it “fixed schedule productivity”:
“Fix your ideal schedule, then work backwards to make everything fit — ruthlessly culling obligations, turning people down, becoming hard to reach, and shedding marginally useful tasks along the way. My experience in trying to make that fixed schedule a reality forces any number of really smart and useful in-the-moment productivity decisions.”