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Last Updated on June 1, 2021

5 Techniques to Tackle a Busy Schedule (And Create More Time)

5 Techniques to Tackle a Busy Schedule (And Create More Time)
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Busy schedules are not atypical for those who work full time in offices. So much so that the phrase “I hate working” may be a common thing that goes through your mind if you find that work is consuming your life, and that you have no time for anything else.

But what if I told you there was a way to make more time?

Modern day workers live in a world where being busy is put on a pedestal. There is a common misconception that the more work you agree to take on and the more occupied with tasks you are, the more it will demonstrate to your boss and colleagues how much of a dedicated worker you are.

However, most times, it’s simply a misconception. Just because your schedule is busy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive. And how much value are you bringing if you’re not productive?

Knowing the difference between “busyness” and “productivity” is the basis of being able to tackle your busy work schedule to create more time.

While being busy refers to having a lot on your plate, being productive means achieving effective results in as minimal time as possible. The latter can lead you to a higher chance of more time to enjoy freely.

Having a busy schedule can not only leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed, but it can also leave you feeling defeated and without the motivation to carry on and complete your tasks to the best of your ability.

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While most of you may not be able to control the amount of tasks assigned to you, there are ways that can help you manage those tasks so that you aren’t spending all of your time preoccupied with them.

Creating more time doesn’t require a magical genie or time machine. It’s easier than that. All you need are techniques that you can apply so instead of being overwhelmed and inundated with tasks, you can tackle your schedule productively.

In addition to the techniques below, Lifehack’s got you the 4-Step Guide To Creating More Time Out Of A Busy Schedule. It’s a free guide to help you prioritize your everyday demand and stop being too busy! Grab the free guide.

Now, let’s dive into the 5 techniques to tackle a busy schedule.

1. Prioritize

If you’re not already prioritizing your tasks, then you’re doing it all wrong!

Prioritizing the tasks on your schedule is a good way to tackle it as it highlights what needs to get done first. And knowing this information can help you manage your time and ensure you meet all your deadlines.

A prioritizing approach you could try is “eating the frog”. A method popularly coined by Brian Tracy in his book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, it doesn’t require you to consume amphibians, instead, it encourages you to tackle your biggest task first.

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The idea behind it is that once you get the biggest task out of the way, the feeling of accomplishment will be so great that you will be motivated to complete the rest of your tasks for the day without a hitch, creating a type of domino effect.

2. Don’t Overcommit

If you’re the kind of person who says yes to every request thrown at you, then it’s no wonder you’ve got yourself a busy schedule. Finding yourself taking on more tasks and obligations than you can deliver can lead you into that “I hate working” mentality.

While saying no may not come naturally to some people, it’s a skill that should be developed if you want to ensure you are working within your limits. Overcommitting to things can stretch you out thin and cause added pressure and stress.

You may find it hard to say no to your boss, but, trust me, saying no initially will disappoint them less than if you take something on and not deliver it to its full potential.

Although turning down tasks and obligations will create more time for you, it’s always good to keep in mind that before you automatically say no to every request, you should first assess what is being asked of you. You never know, there may be some things that won’t take up too much of your time that would be worth your while.

Learn Leo Babauta’s advice on The Gentle Art of Saying No.

3. Stay Organized

Planning, coordinating, and having a system in place is pivotal for tackling a busy schedule productively.

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How you stay organized is, of course, completely up to you. Whether this means having an all out task management system implemented or a simple daily to-do list written on a piece of paper, visualizing your schedule can help you stay organized and keep on top of it all.

It can also ensure you don’t forget an important task. Being preoccupied with a busy schedule can mean that you may accidentally overlook things. It can also help you be prepared for unexpected surprises or any last minute changes so that it doesn’t slow down your workflow.

Remember that what may work for your colleague may not work for you. So just because you don’t have the latest, state-of-the-art scheduling system, it doesn’t make your way of organization any less valid.

4. Delegate

If you have the ability to do so, then delegating tasks is another way to manage a busy schedule. Knowing how to effectively delegate is an essential skill that everyone in any leadership position should possess. Not only will it lighten your workload, but it will also free up your time so that you can spend it on something you enjoy.

There’s more to effective delegation than yelling out orders. For instance, you have to identify the type of skills that are needed to complete the task and then determine who will be best to do it. This requires you to know your employees and/or colleagues. You also have to ensure you give clear instructions so that you avoid having to redo the task because it wasn’t done correctly the first time around.

Task delegation doesn’t only benefit you. It can help someone else acquire new skills that can be useful for them in the future. But before you start delegating, always look to see if there are tasks that you can eliminate completely. There’s no point in giving someone else the responsibility if it really doesn’t have to be done in the first place. You want to create more time for everyone in the company, not just for yourself!

5. Take Breaks

The perils of a busy schedule is that it can lead to stress, exhaustion, and a decrease in productivity; which is why it’s important to include breaks in your schedule. This especially refers to people who work in front of computers as they are at risk of leading sedentary lifestyles.

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Taking regular breaks is crucial for maintaining your health and wellbeing. Too much stress and exhaustion can lead to serious health issues such as suffering from an occupational burnout,[1] which is now recognized as a legitimate syndrome caused solely within the workplace.

The benefits of taking regular breaks while you work is that while it may seem like you’re being counterproductive in trying to create more time, by maintaining your health and wellbeing, you are actually boosting your energy and productivity levels.

It only takes as little as a 30 second microbreak to improve mental sharpness by 13%! Plus, you are also reducing the chances of catching an illness that can result in a substantial amount of time away from the office.

The Bottom Line

Having a busy schedule can make it easy to get caught up in work and forget about the other things in your life. Where busyness refers to the amount of stuff you’ve got going on, productivity is about how well you tackle your tasks so that you can achieve as much as you can in as little time as possible.

By applying the above 5 techniques, you can manage your schedule more productively; you are also one step closer to eradicating the notion of “I hate working” completely from your mind as you’ll notice your schedule freeing up.

You’ll be able to spend the created time on the things that matter to you most.

More About Productivity

Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Dinnie Muslihat

Writer, content marketer & productivity enthusiast

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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