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

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

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. Here’re 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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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

Reference

More by this author

Dinnie Muslihat

Writer, content marketer & productivity enthusiast

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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