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.
Experts agree that if you don’t consider how long things take, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
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.
Want to stop procrastinating? Schedule. Here’s Cal:
Does this sound too mechanical? Overly structured and not much fun? Wrong.
Research shows that it’s even a good idea to schedule what you do with your free time. It increases quality of life:
(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)
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”:
What does research say prevents you from getting burned out at work? Feeling in control of your schedule.
Anything that increases your perception of control over a situation — whether it actually increases your control or not — can decrease your stress level.
(For more on how to achieve work/life balance, click here.)
You’ve drawn a line in the sand and worked backward, giving all your tasks hours in your day. But how do you handle longer term projects?
3) Make A Plan For The Entire Week
I think you’ll agree that the last thing this world needs is more short term thinking.
You’ll never get ahead of the game by only looking at today and never thinking about tomorrow.
How do you write books, teach classes, meet with students, do research papers and be a good parent consistently? Plan the week.
Are you rolling your eyes? Does this sound overbearing? It’s simpler than you think. What’s really necessary?
Just one hour every Monday morning. Here’s Cal:
And he’s right. Research shows you spend your time more wisely
Maybe you think it’s enough to run down the week’s duties in your head. Nope.
Studies show writing things down makes you more likely to follow through.
(For more on how the most productive people get things done, click here.)
So you’ve got a fixed schedule and a weekly plan — but the math doesn’t add up. There’s just too much stuff. Cal has an answer for that too.