Planning For A Flexible Schedule | Giftie Etcetera: Planning For A Flexible Schedule

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Planning For A Flexible Schedule

Plenty of people have "normal" schedules during the week.

Monday through Friday, they start work at 8 a.m. and leave work at 4:30 p.m. They have staff meetings every Tuesday at 9 a.m. and weekly reports due on Thursdays.

Then there's the rest of us! Some of us, like me, work ever-changing and flexible hours. Others work normal hours, but the set-up of their day is always changing.

Time management people have known for a long time that having a plan, or a schedule, helps us to get things accomplished. But how to make that plan, when your schedule really does vary from day to day?

TIP: Do your schedule for the next day as part of the end of your workday or as part of your nightly prep. That way, you can use it to pack your lunches, totes, gym bags, or whatever else you need for the next day.

1. Put in anchors.

Anchors are those times that pretty much stay the same every week and are difficult to reschedule.



For me, carpool happens every morning (assuming there is school). Even though it's a regular, repetitive event, it goes on my schedule because I can't schedule anything else at morning carpool time unless I find a substitute driver.

My husband arrives home with the kids (from afternoon carpool) at the same time four days a week. (On the fifth day, they stay for an after school activity.) His arrival home (when I take over supervision of homework and chores and start cooking supper) marks another anchor.

So far, a typical day looks like this:

6:45 a.m. Carpool
4 p.m. {DH Home}/Homework/Chores

I draw those squiggly lines around someone else's event that affects my day.

TIP: If you use two-colors to plan, the highlight color could be used instead of the squiggly lines.

2. Fill in nonflexibles.

Nonflexibles (yes, I made up that word :) ) are things that MUST happen today AND must happen at a certain time.

Today, for me, that means a walking date with the moms from my kids' school. I also have to know about my kid's karate class, because that means I need to be home with the younger child while the older one goes to karate with dad.


Updated schedule:

6:45 a.m. - 7:45 a.m. Carpool
7:45 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Mercy Moms Walking Group
4 p.m. {DH Home}/Homework/Chores
6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. {Karate}


3. Fill in flexibles.

Flexibles are those things that are important or must be done today, but the times can vary.

Today, I need to work (at my paid job) for three hours and I must grocery shop. I will work first because the walking group is near the library and it's a beautiful day to work in the library, with its huge, sunny windows. After work, I'll grocery shop. That way, I can go straight home and put away the ice cream.

This is my office today, at a library near the kids' school:



(Yes, that is my coffee cup. In honor of Gilmore Girls hitting Netflix this week, it seems appropriate, don't you think?)

Updated schedule:


6:45 a.m. - 7:45 a.m. Carpool
7:45 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Mercy Moms Walking Group
8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Work
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Groceries
4 p.m. {DH Home}/Homework/Chores
6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. {Karate}


4. Fill in VITs (very important tasks).

Obviously, at this point, you already know when you need to be places and about how much free time you will have to accomplish your actual to do list or tasks. Looking at my schedule, and accounting for the fact that I rarely accomplish anything once the kids get home, I have about three hours (1 p.m. until 4 p.m.) to get my task list done.

At this point, I reassess my task list. Is it too long? Too short? Do I need to delete, defer, or delegate any tasks?

Sometimes, though, there are time critical tasks that need to be fit into the schedule. My youngest kid has a birthday this weekend, so one of those critical things is to go to the bakery and order a cake. Today is my last chance to do it before the party on Saturday.

It's a Very Important Task and merits going on my schedule, instead of the task list below the schedule.


Updated schedule:

6:45 a.m. - 7:45 a.m. Carpool
7:45 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Mercy Moms Walking Group
8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Work
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Groceries

O E Order cake
4 p.m. {DH Home}/Homework/Chores
6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. {Karate}

Note that the task is still written like a task, with a check box (I use circles), a context code (E for errand), and the description.


5. Toss the schedule.

Unless there is a reason to archive (for example, if I get in a wreck on the way home and need to save the page for insurance purposes), I toss the daily schedules. I archive my monthly pages (timed events) and my weekly pages (tasks), but this daily schedule is simply a working document to help me achieve my goals.

TIP: Holiday or weekend? Don't bother with a daily schedule unless you have a big party or a bunch of time sensitive stuff!

I hope this helps you to set up your daily schedule. Remember, anchors, nonflexibles, flexibles, VITs, and toss!

Etcetera.

1 comment:

R.L. said...

I've been struggling with this for years (having so much to do but not fixed schedule). You just gave me a framework. Thank you!!