I personally feel that a lot of people take a schedule for granted. But, if you want to be successful in life, creating and sticking to a daily schedule is a must. After all, it makes goals more achievable and ensures that you never miss deadlines or important events. Here are 10 common scheduling mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Scheduling helps you track your progress, prepare for the unexpected.
Careful scheduling is a preparation tool that safeguards your success and keeps costs down by preventing you from going over budget. A daily schedule can also make you more effective and efficient. It’s your schedule, and you can build it around when you have the most energy and focus. But, it also helps you avoid mental fatigue.
When you wake-up having a clear idea of how your day is going to play out, you fly into your day without hesitation, and you don’t have to think about it. That means making fewer decisions since you were able to plan way ahead of the days’ work. As you planned accordingly — you have begun ahead of everyone else.
Scheduling also keeps critical stakeholders in the loop. As an example, if you share your schedule with your family, then they won’t disturb you when you’re in a meeting or the middle of your deep work. As for your team, they’ll also be privy to this information, as well as project due dates or when you’ll be out of town. You can also have a team calendar.
In short, you need a schedule. But, you’ll only be able to experience these benefits if you avoid the ten following scheduling mistakes.
1. Not having a clear purpose.
“Time is precious, and you should value how you spend it,” wrote Katrina Ruth in a previous Entrepreneur article. “If you don’t decide what matters in advance, you’ll spend it all doing things that aren’t moving you forward.”
Ruth outlines her goals and dreams in a document she dubs “Creating the life I want.” Included in it are the “goals for myself (not others), identify the actions that will get me there, and schedule them each week.”
Ruth also suggests reviewing these “items on your list and either delete them, do them, or delegate them. Sometimes it’s worth paying someone else to do things so that you can focus on what really matters: the tasks that will get you where you want to go if you do them every day.”
In other words. You should only schedule items that have a clear purpose. Keep in mind the things that are pushing the needle closer to your goals and aspirations. As for everything else? Leave them so that you’re calendar isn’t full of unimportant entries.
2. Focusing on the wrong work at a bad time.
Even if you have identified the purpose behind whatever it is that you’re scheduling, there’s often a tendency to focus on that specific activity at an inopportune time. For example, focusing on urgent tasks over your most important ones.
In theory, this does make some sense. If you knock out all of these items first thing in the morning, they’re no longer hanging over your head. You may even want to keep that momentum going for the rest of the day.
The problem, however, is that you’re using your peak hours on trivial things. A better solution would be to schedule your most important priorities when you’re most productive. No matter what time you set the alarm, this is is usually shortly after waking. Now, when you have the most energy and focus, you can tackle these items instead of working on them, you’re mentally exhausted.
3. Being unrealistic with time.
Personally, I believe that this is the number one crime committed when it comes to scheduling. Let’s say that you have to crank out a blog post or provide a timeline on when a product will launch. If you over-or-underestimate on how long this will actually take, you’re more likely to throw your entire schedule off. Even worse, you may miss a deadline or waste valuable time for you and key stakeholders like employees and customers.
Spend a couple of weeks to track your time so that you have a better idea of the amount of time needed to finish a task or run a meeting. There’s even some handy time tracking apps that will do this for you.
Additionally, stop overcommitting. If you’re already swamped this week, then push back a meeting to next week. Don’t accept a new project until you’ve already wrapped the one you’re currently working on. And, say “no” to any request for your time.
If you’re working with a team, then you also need to be aware of their availability. If you took on a new project and you don’t have the available resources to meet the due date, then you’re only asking for terrible. Consult your staff on their workload before jumping on new opportunities.
4. Inappropriate level of detail.
Adding details to your schedule is definitely beneficial. For instance, when you just booked a conference call, it would help if you had some necessary information about the person on the other end of the line, such as their name, position, and meaning of the chat.
At the same time, you don’t want to include too many details, like their entire life story. Doing so will make your schedule too cumbersome to manage. And, if it’s shared with your employees, it may annoy the daylights out of them. Like you know, they probably only need the most relevant information to complete a task or prepare for a meeting.
5. Not adding buffers and breaks.
Every schedule should have a gap between entries. For instance, if you have meetings all day, then buffers guarantee that you’ll be on-time in case the previous meeting ran over the allotted time. If the event is off-campus, then this is a contingency plan if you get stuck in traffic. Most importantly, it gives you the time to decompress and prepare for the next meeting.
Even if you don’t have meetings scheduled, don’t forget to add breaks throughout the day. We can only focus on a specific activity for so long — we also need to eat, drink and use the restroom. Scheduling breaks allows our brains to refocus and recharge. Check out: “The Best Ways to Use Breaks to Be More Productive (Infographic).
6. Building your schedule in isolation.
When creating your schedule, you don’t need to run the entire thing by others. But, when you are collaborating or outsourcing tasks, then this is an absolute must.
For example, you’re constructing an upcoming marketing campaign. I highly doubt that you’re flying solo on this endeavor. The chances are that you’re working with people like content creators and marketers. If they weren’t aware of critical deadlines, then that’s going to lead to a lot of confusion and missed deadlines.
If you’re working with a team, consult with them as you put together your schedule. It’s the only way to set realistic goals and estimates, as well as keep everyone on the same page. And, it’s also helpful when scheduling meetings. The last thing that you want is to book an event where few invitees attend because they didn’t have the availability.
7. Not stacking meetings.
It should come as no surprise that meetings eat up a large part of your time. The average spends 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. Even if they are productive, people can still spend between 35-50% of their time in meetings.
“If you have to bounce between your work and a meeting every hour, it can be detrimental to your productivity,” wrote Renzo Costarella for Calendar. “Instead, try to stack your meetings within a certain time period.” Now you’ll be able to “plan your busy work around it instead of getting constantly interrupted.”
8. Being too rigid.
While you want to follow your schedule as carefully as possible, you also need to have a little flexibility. I mean, no matter how well organized and planned out your schedule is, things rarely go as planned. And, if you’re don’t have some wiggle room, you won’t be able to handle these unforeseen circumstances. Or, even worse, your entire schedule may now be off course for the near future.
I make it a point to leave some white space in my calendar. Usually, this is an hour or two of my day, where nothing is scheduled. That doesn’t mean that I’ll waste this time. It just gives me a little leeway if something pops up. And, if everything is running smoothly, then it’s the perfect time to go for a walk with my dog, reflect, or clean out my inbox.
9. Not updating your schedule.
Schedules are constantly changing. Don’t believe me? Just go back and let at what your schedule was like last year. Heck. Go and see how much it’s changed within the previous month. I bet you’ll notice that the month wasn’t exactly what you had planned, but thanks to putting out fires, rescheduled meetings, or adjusted due dates — you are ahead of the game.
While I do not doubt that you’re staying on top of your most essential tasks, block out a specific time each week to review your schedule. I do this every Friday afternoon. But, you can do this on a Sunday night or Monday afternoon if you prefer.
Regardless of when you review your schedule, make sure that it’s updated frequently to reflect on any real-time changes. Reflecting then quickly reviewing your calendar is most useful when you’re sharing your calendar with others. How ticked off would an employee be if they showed up to a meeting that was pushed back to next week?
10. Not using the right tools.
Finally, you can make scheduling stress-free by using the right tools. Take Calendar as an example. It eliminates those excessive back-and-forth communications when scheduling an event. Merely share your availability with others, and they’ll book a date and time that works for them. Furthermore, Calendar uses machine learning to make smart suggestions on when, where, and how to plan your next event.
The key is to find a scheduling tool that integrates with your existing calendar. And, most importantly, meets your exact needs.