Know Thyself: Scheduling In A Planner With Little Numbers | Giftie Etcetera: Know Thyself: Scheduling In A Planner With Little Numbers

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Know Thyself: Scheduling In A Planner With Little Numbers

You already know my philosophy about scheduling appointments - all appointments go on the monthly (or weekly) pages while all tasks and due dates go on the weekly (or daily) pages.

I do this so that I don't double book. If someone calls me to substitute teach, I can instantly say yes or no by glancing at one page.

If I have an appointment that may or may not happen, I "pencil" it in by writing a question mark after it.

Tasks go in my weekly pages.

But what about paid work that is not on a set schedule? In theory, that should go on my task pages. In fact, my novel writing and blogging do go on my weekly pages or my task list.

What about work that must be done on a tight deadline (say, within the week) and measures in hours, not tasks? For example, if I promise to do 10 to 15 hours of paid consulting work in a week, so it must be done between Monday and Friday, but there are no set hours. Is that a task? Do I put it on my schedule?

Here's the trickiest part of being a planner, I think. A planner must know herself. (Or himself, as male planners are out there, ladies.)

Knowing thyself is how you decide to decorate or not decorate. Knowing thyself is how you determine whether you will use a pencil or a permanent marker. It's how you figure out what to write down and what you do all the time, anyway, even if you never make a single planner notation about it. (I always make the coffee. You'll never see it in my planner, but I will always remember.) (Except for sometimes, when I forget, but only because I did not have my coffee. How do you expect me to make coffee if I haven't had my coffee?!?)

I know that, if I don't schedule work, it won't get done. Oh, sure, if a certain task needs doing (for example, filling out an HR form or researching a particular legal issue), I will do it by the deadline. But as far as working for 10 to 15 hours, if I don't schedule it, forget it. I'll be trying to fit it all in on Friday, every time. My life is busy and will get in the way of working if work hours are not made a priority on my monthly calendar.

At the same time, I am doing the kind of work that I do - consulting/part-time lawyering, substitute teaching, blogging, and writing a novel - because it gives me the freedom and flexibility to pick up the kids from school and be a full-time parent to them. I refuse to give that up.

I've come up with a compromise. You've seen, recently, my new work planner. I will schedule certain hours in there.

On my personal planner (which gets all scheduling and hard deadline DUE dates, no matter what other planner I use, so that nothing falls through the crack of having a second planner), I will write little numbers on the monthly calendar. Nothing distracting, and they will allow flexibility in scheduling, but they will send a clear message that I have to work that day, for a certain number of hours, in my face where I cannot ignore it.

I'm thinking, generally, a 5/4/3/2/1 schedule, where I try to get in 5 hours on Monday, 4 on Tuesday, and so on. 

When I need to switch things up, say to substitute on a Monday all day, I can do 1 on Monday, 5 on Tuesday, and so on. Or, if I am subbing half a day, 2 or 3 hours on Monday.

An advantage of this plan is that, by working extra or on weeks without enough work to keep me occupied for 15 hours, I can take the end of the week off. Who doesn't want Fridays off as a reward for working hard all week?

I know this post seems like an answer to an issue that might be very specific to my life. But you have something like this in your life. You are working on some goal, somewhere, that you want to achieve.

Maybe it's working out. A set schedule doesn't work (because you get an injury or something comes up and you can't run tomorrow or you are too busy with a work project on a particular day), but you want to meet a weekly goal. Try little numbers on your scheduling page.

Perhaps you want to spend a certain number of hours per day writing. A tiny number notation on your schedule, so you make sure to fit it in, makes a simple task into a PRIORITY.

Use the little number sparingly, of course, but use it where it works for you. Know thyself when you plan. That is how you succeed, stress-free (kind of) and happy. Oh, and plan Fridays off when you can.


2 comments: said...

Interesting idea. I'm struggling with scheduling blog time. I'll have to see if I can adapt that.

Josh LaPorte said...

I am interested in this concept; I struggle, though, with doing ANYTHING for more than about 20 minutes. It is easier for me to just commit to do something for maybe 15 minutes every single day, without exceptions. I then will get to it 90% of the time and forgive myself for the 10% missed because I end up getting the thing done anyway.