Aren’t there days you wish you had a personal assistant? Heck, maybe you are a personal assistant for someone else. As nice as it would be to have a personal assistant on the payroll, believe it or not you have a personal assistant at your disposal right now and it doesn’t cost a thing.
It’s your calendar.
One of the biggest time management and productivity mistakes I see people make is keeping their task list and their calendar parallel, rather than making them intersect. Everything you do in life happens in real time, and although multitasking is still pretty popular, in truth, you can only give your focus and attention to one thing at a time.
So, if all activity has to happen in real time and your calendar is a timeline, doesn’t it make sense to put your tasks on your calendar? If you don’t allocate real time, how else will your things-to-do get done? Unfortunately, they often don’t.
The solution to using your time better and making sure your tasks get done is to think of your calendar as your personal assistant. If you had a human personal assistant, before you scheduled anything new, you’d check with him (or her) to see which time slots you have available, right? You can do the same thing for yourself when you use your calendar as your assistant.
Before you commit to any new appointment, check your calendar to see if it’s realistic, given the other appointments and tasks you already have that week. Is there prep time involved? Check your calendar to ensure you have enough lead time to allow to prepare. Will there be follow-up time involved? If so, be sure to schedule that too.
Remember to schedule time for unscheduled things, too! (Whaaaaat?! Schedule time for the unscheduled? Yep. We all have errands to run and unexpected situations come up. You can’t possibly schedule every minute of each day and expect it to work out. You must have buffer and when you rely on your calendar to show you an accurate picture of your time, you’re able to consciously block out buffer time for life’s little surprises.
Whether you use a paper, electronic or hybrid calendar doesn’t matter. The most important thing when managing your time is choosing one calendar and always checking with it first, the way you would with an assistant. Soon you’ll wonder how you ever over-committed or double booked yourself in the past and you’ll be in control of your time once and for all.
Monica Ricci founded Catalyst Organizing Solutions in 1998 and has been helping people change their lives ever since.
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