Time Management Tips #16–Unscramble Your Day


Do you know what you want to accomplish today?  Did you actually make the time for the things that you want to do today?   Are you task switching like crazy?  The single most common pattern I see when somebody’s day is scrambled, it’s because they didn’t make time for the things that they wish they did.  Again.  And again.  And again.

Let’s stop the insanity.

Time management tips #16 is unscramble your day.    The idea here is to take a few moments in the morning, to make your day go better.    It’s a quick and simple exercise that immediately pays off.  It pays off by immediately by clarifying what you will do, what you won’t do, and what you need to make time for.  It helps you quickly structure your day, just enough so that you can focus where it counts.

This is a big deal because your day can change right under our feet.  No matter how you planned it the day before, the week before, or the month before, it changes.  When we make up in the morning, and our day has arrived, it’s where the rubber meets the road – and it’s amazing just how different reality can be from our initial plan.   Things change, and time changes what’s important. 

But the good news is -- today can be THE best day to re-plan your day to make the most of it.

Here’s how to re-plan your day with skill:

  1. Do you know your priorities for the day?  Did you identify your three wins for today?   Just doing that quick exercise, can instantly help you refocus your day, and make time for what’s important, and let the rest go.
  2. Do you know your most important appointments for the day?  Review your calendar for the day.  What are your main appointments?  Now is a great chance to internalize them.  I do two things here, I write a quick list of my appointments on paper, and I get a quick idea in my mind of where I will be spending my hours.   Sometimes, this simply helps me feel on top of my day, instead of reacting.  Other times, it prompts me to do more prep or to shuffle things around to unscramble my day.  It’s a very fast look from the balcony, before falling into the trap or the routine of just going from appointment to appointment.
  3. Can you let things go?   Are there any things that you didn’t make time for, that now you can?  You might have last minute cancellations.  Or now that you really know what you want to accomplish today, you can reprioritize your schedule for the day.  Are there things you can bump off, push out, or let go, to make space for what’s most important for you?  (Don’t do this for unimportant urgent stuff, do this for important stuff.)
  4. Can you batch stuff?   Maybe there are some things that you can consolidate on your calendar.   Now is a great time to look at your game plan for the day, and find some ways to really consolidate.   One of the best ways to consolidate is to push all your random little things into a focused hour, where you can plow your way through them.   Rather than task-switch or thrash throughout the day, you can consolidate them and deal with them as a batch.
  5. Did you bake in the right breaks?   If you don’t have any deliberate breaks in your day, add some.  Even little ten-minute breaks can help you recharge and renew.   With knowledge work, your energy is your force multiplier for making things happen.  Bake in breaks throughout the day so that you can keep your energy strong.

There is only so much time in the day.  You can feel good about your day if you know that you have identified your priorities, you are keeping the most important appointments, and you are making space for the things that count, and taking the time to recharge and renew.

The more you can reduce your task-switching and the more you can give yourself larger chunks of time for focus, the better off you are.

For free time management training , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for a time management system check out Getting Results.com.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Janine Patterson says:

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I really feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

  2. robertosljunior says:

    Hi JD, you got my attention after I read this post. Very interesting point of view on time management.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Roberto Silva

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