I’ve learned that if something isn’t on my to-do list, or on my calendar, it won’t get done.
That’s why I schedule everything. I’m not just talking about work items, either. I schedule my workouts, my walks, and even my free time.
I also make sure it’s all on my to do list. (Click here to see why I recommend keeping two to-do lists.)
It’s not just a matter of being productive, it’s a matter of only being able to remember so much. For example, I used to only put meetings or conference calls on my calendar. So, when I’d look on my calendar, and see a n open time slot, I’d think it was okay to schedule something else. On more than one occasion, however, remembered (after the fact) that I had wanted fit in a run, or some reading time, or some time with my kids, during that time slot.
Scheduling everything will also help you ensure you have time to actually get things done — as opposed to just filling your day up with the meetings and conference calls. I know many a client and colleague who regularly fills up his or her schedule with meetings and calls, only to find that the only time they have to get their work done is late at night at their kitchen table.
As for my to-do list, I make sure to put even the most mundane activities on it. For example, I’ve been meaning to schedule an eye doctor appointment for weeks. I finally put it on my to-do list today, which ensures it will get done this week.
If it’s on the to-do list, it will make it on the calendar. If it’s on the calendar, it will get done.
This all may sound elementary to those of you with Type A personalities who have been doing this for years. But I have a sneaking suspicion (as well as first hand knowledge, since I interact with many fellow entrepreneurs) that failure to schedule everything is more the rule, than the exception.
Oh, and, by the way — make sure to leave enough time in your calendaring for things like travel and prep time. If you have a conference call scheduled from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m., don’t put a workout on your calendar for 2:00 p.m. Scheduling in some buffer time can help keep you productive and on time.
When you have an idea or a task pop into your head — get it into your to-do list as quickly as possible (I highly recommend Evernote to keep your to-do lists). Then, when you get back to your office, or your laptop, make sure you reconcile your to-do list with your calendar for the coming days.
Mark it down. Schedule it. Do it.