If you’re naturally organized around your schedule, kudos to you. If you’re someone who struggles with an unorganized schedule, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
Taming your schedule requires focus, and you truly need to commit to a process that works for you. That said, you need to try different strategies in order to find the right mix.
Here are five tips that will help you fix an unorganized schedule.
Shorten that to-do list.
There’s nothing worse than starting your day and looking at a never-ending to-do list. Not only is it hard to motivate yourself to start, it’s also difficult to identify which tasks are most important. So let’s cut it down.
First you need to identify your Most Important Tasks (MITs). These should be the tasks that are directly aligned with your daily goals. An MIT doesn’t need to be work related either. Maybe, you’re committed to changing your lifestyle. If that’s the case, one of your MITs can be getting an hour of exercise during the day.
Once your MITs are identified, you can always create subtasks within each to help you stay organized. This way, your to-do list is still complete, but with much fewer tasks.
Stack your meetings.
Meetings take up the majority of our workday. While they can be productive, they also require you to stop work and refocus your attention. If you have to bounce between your work and a meeting every hour, it can be detrimental to your productivity. Instead, try to stack your meetings within a certain time period. This way you can plan your busy work around it instead of getting constantly interrupted.
Commit to recurring team meetings.
If you work on a team, it’s almost certain you’ll need to meet at least once a week, if not everyday. Instead of scheduling on the fly you should have your team commit to recurring meetings.
Whether it’s a conference call or a standup it’s always best to lock in a specific time slot. This will save you, or your assistant, tons of time with scheduling. If a team member can’t make it, it’s better to catch them up after rather than rescheduling the entire meeting.
Get control of your email.
Email is the staple for communication in business. That said, I can’t tell you how many times I get distracted by email alerts during the day. One of the best ways to get control of your email is to use an email scheduling tool.
Schedule emails to go out mid-to-late morning for the best response times. Additionally, you should block out times during the day that you check email. I set aside 15-minutes every morning, after lunch, and before I leave work to check and respond to emails. That way, I know I shouldn’t be spending more than 45-minutes a day on my email.
Use a calendar application.
One of the best ways to get control of your schedule is to use a calendar application. These tools help you block time, schedule meetings, and even provide analytics on how you spend your time.
There’s technology to supplement just about everything in our lives. That said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it to supplement your scheduling.
At the end of the day, there’s really no single solution for an unorganized schedule. However, the five quick fixes above will have you on your way to finally reclaiming your time and maximizing your productivity.
Renzo Costarella is an entrepreneur, avid learner, and startup enthusiast currently living in Silicon Valley. He consults for several startups in the Bay Area and is pursuing a few ideas of his own.