Friday, May 22, 2015

A Trick for Scheduling Long Periods of Unspecified Time

My title is all fancy and complicated, but this post is really about solving a simple problem. How do you schedule flexible time (meaning you can do it any time that day) that eats up most of your schedule?

schedule, planner

For me, this question arises in two ways.

I am employed with completely flexible, work-from-home hours, but I still have to work several hours a day. I need a way to note that on my schedule, but still take advantage of the flexibility of not having to work at 3:15 p.m. if the weather is perfect and my kids want to play in the park.

I also grocery shop about once a week. That takes at least two hours, so it needs to be noted on my schedule, but it can move around if a friend calls to have lunch together.

Maybe you are a student and have to study for three hours today. Perhaps you homeschool for five hours each day.

Whenever something is a time suck, it should go on your schedule! But while appointments go in at a certain time, the flexible time sucks should only be tentative scheduled, to give you an idea of how much you have to go and approximately when the best time to do it is.

I solve this problem by putting brackets around the untimed, flexible but necessary appointment (as in the green circle above).

Now I know at a glance what can be moved (if I must rearrange my schedule) and how many hours total are already booked.

(In the example, I ended up working from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. until 5 p.m., during my kids' appointment. I moved my workout, which honestly should be in bracket, too, to 7:30 p.m.)

For more planner tips or to get your specific problems and organizing issues addressed, click on Etcetera below and join my Facebook group!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sparkly Clean, Organized Houses - Only on TV

I understand that television is fake. But I think directors could change one little thing to make sitcoms seem more real.

They could add a sink full of dishes to the set.

organize, organizing, clean, cleaning

My kitchen (pictured above) is not a mess. But (left to clockwise) my chairs are not tucked carefully under the table, my purses and bags are unzipped and hanging haphazardly over my desk, and there is a mug and a plate on my side table.

That's the reality. A bachelor on a sitcom? He has a Mountain Dew can, open and empty, on some surface. A college girl? She has four pairs of shoes slipped off right in the doorway. A mom? There's probably sticky orange juice on the counter and a pile of mail to sort.

Sitcoms could really up the realism by simply letting the sets get messy.

Why don't they? I, for one, would welcome the recognition that things are not perfect in real life.

So, vote in the comments - sparkly sets or realistic sets? I'd love to hear what you think.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Where Details Fit in a Planner

One reason to use a daily page is to actually make a plan for the day. But that does not mean that you need a cluttered schedule, where you might overlook important times.

Instead, I propose that you write the essentials in a schedule and the details in the other parts of the daily plan (as seen here on my Quo Vadis daily page).

details, daily docket, daily plan, schedule, tasks, project planning

The green Ws indicate where I scheduled 8 hours of work and put a small arrow, to indicate that the details are listed in the meat of the page. The three tasks, like "draft policy," indicate what needs to be done in those 8 hours.

TIP: Use a tiny arrow to indicate where the details are located away from the actual schedule.

The Ps (for personal) show what time I need to do an errand (which cannot be done earlier in the day because the pharmacy won't have Crestor ready until late in the day). The details of the errand are in the middle of the page, where actual planning gets done. Again, a tiny arrow next to the scheduled time indicates that I should look below to find the details.

This method can work with virtually any daily set-up. It just makes sense. I could have crowded the schedule with details and times, but this way, CP (carpool) jumps out at me. My 8 hours must be done before or after CP. There is no other option.

Notice that I do put some questionable activities, like a family walk, with a question mark on the schedule (circled in yellow). I hope to walk, if we don't have an afternoon thunderstorm!