Purposely Scheduling Too Many Tasks

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Purposely Scheduling Too Many Tasks

There's a cool time management technique I use...but before I get to it I need to be clear about something.

Obviously you don't want to over-schedule. Early in my business life years ago I would do that all the time. I thought I could hit five or six long appointments in a given eight-hour workday. I was wrong. I blew my brains out with stress and was constantly missing or short-changing appointments...until I realized over-scheduling was a stupid idea.

If anything, you want to under-schedule. Tim Ferriss refuses to make a daily to-do list longer than one-fourth of an normal 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, written in big handwriting. I agree with that approach.

So I'll say it again: Don't over-schedule. Bad.

Okay...

There is one context where over-scheduling can be beneficial. I'll explain it with an example.

For about a year now, I've kept solid with a goal to exercise vigorously for 30 minutes, five days a week.  This is either weight lifting for about 45 minutes or intense cardio (with a heart rate monitor so I know I'm really getting a workout) for 30 minutes.

In my schedule, I have "morning exercise" as the first thing I do every morning unless I have an early morning appointment. (I tend to avoid those anyway.) I put this "appointment" in my schedule for seven days a week...every week. Remember, I only want five days a week, but I put seven. This way, I get two "screw up" days per week. If I miss my exercise once or twice in a week, that's fine. I'll still get my five days of exercise in, which is my real goal.

What most people do is decide to exercise three days a week, or four, or whatever, and put it in their schedule. Then when one of these days gets screwed up because the boss changes the work schedule or the baby needs to go to the hospital or the cat needs braces, they miss their exercise. Then they either let it slide (missing their goal) or they go into panic mode the next day and stress out as they shuffle their schedule around to accommodate the lost exercise.

This over-scheduling method is the calendar equivalent of showing up 15 minutes early for an appointment.  If you encounter traffic on the way and are late, it's fine. If you get there early, it's also fine, since you can get more work done and/or start early.

Think through one or two areas in your life you could slightly over-schedule so if unforeseen problems arise, you'll be covered. This method works.

This article was originally published on April 27, 2012
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