Module Four: Scheduling Your Time

Your time is valuable, so you should treat it that way. Your schedule can get busy and sometimes it can seem like there are not enough hours in the day. But when that happens, we just need to take a step back and manage our time effectively. When we schedule our time and resources in a way that benefits us and aides in becoming better organized, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.

Have a Master Calendar

It can seem like a good idea to have several calendars for every area of life, but when you use more than one at a time, it’s easy to get them confused. With multiple calendars, you can run the risk of double booking events or miss important appointments. Instead, get one calendar and put it somewhere you can see it every day, such as on the refrigerator or hang by the front door. Write all of your personal and work reminders on it, including deadline dates, appointments, events, and reminders. When you use one calendar for everything you do, you are not only able to manage your time better, but you can get rid of the paper reminders you have posted everywhere.

Setting Deadlines

When scheduling our time, deadlines provide a sense of structure and balance for us. While every person responds to deadlines differently, they are a key tool to better time management. By setting deadlines, you are putting a concrete need in your schedule, and it helps prevent it from being forgotten or lost in the near future. They give us a sense of accountability when it comes to things we either want or need to get done. So whether you write them on a calendar or program them into a mobile device, the next time you plan to do something, set yourself a deadline first and stick to it. You’ll find that when you take the time to schedule them, you’ll make time for other things.

Tips when setting deadlines:

  • Keep your deadlines in arm’s reach – write them down where you will see them
  • Set periodic reminders – give yourself reminders that a deadline approaches
  • Pad your actual deadline a little – give yourself some extra wiggle room

Remove or Limit the Time Wasters

A time waster is something that can distract you or take away from the task at hand. They can occur at home or at work. Removing or even limiting some of these wasters can improve your concentration and help you stay focused on what you want or need to do. They can include personal time-wasters, such as checking messages or stopping to talk or can even be as simple as wasting extra time to go look for that extra file. Practice cutting or limiting one thing that distracts you the most, such as other people or stopping to start another task. Give yourself a set time that you will not let these things distract you or take away from your current duty. You’ll be amazed how taking these small steps will improve your time management.

Some common time wasters and distractions:

  • Excessively checking email/text/phone messages
  • Boredom or daydreams
  • Extra time spent away from your work area
  • Extra time spent looking for things
  • Taking on extra projects

Coping With Things Outside of Your Control

There are many things in life that we cannot control, such as an illness, rude or mean people, and especially the weather. But we learn to cope with them every day and adapt ourselves to them. You can control how you react to certain circumstances and setbacks. When we are faced with something we realize we cannot change or control, the key to dealing with it is to, first, accept it. Once you have accepted that you cannot change the fact that it rained on your moving day or that someone almost rear-ended you in traffic, we can learn to cope with them by remembering what we can control. You can control what alternative plan you have for moving day and you can control how you choose to respond to the rude driver. Focusing on what you can control rather than what you can’t help you feel more empowered and less likely to let other obstacles overcome you.

Case Study

Kerstin has an important report due at the end of the week and is having trouble finishing it on schedule. Even though she wrote it on her master calendar and gave herself several reminders, she feels as though she is lacking enough focus to concentrate on the project. One night, Kerstin decided to work on the project at home and turned off her cell phone and went into her room to be alone and work on her report. She noticed she worked much better without the everyday distractions she was letting get in her way. She finished her report two days early and was very excited about her progress. But when she tried to print her final copy, her home printer broke. Kerstin panicked at first and wasn’t sure what to do. But she remembered that she could print it at the local library instead. Once she had her final, printed report in hand, she was grateful that she had left herself enough time for possible mistakes and was able to save her report in time.