The Best Way to Create a Daily Schedule: 3 Simple Steps for Mapping Out a Highly Productive Day

Did you know that the average US office worker doesn’t have an uninterrupted hour in their entire day?! I’m certain that the stat has to be similar for entrepreneurs.

When are we supposed to do deep, focused work (or, *cough* that 5-minute task we’ve been procrastinating for the past two months?) with days that are often segmented by meetings or unexpectedly interrupted with video calls and Slack notifications?

This is a common complaint I hear from students in my signature group program, Thyme Transformation, and is one of the issues I focus on solving through the course material.

The problem is that many of us are approaching our daily schedule with methods we learned before digital collaboration and interaction became a regular part of our workday — and certainly before the pandemic tossed many of us into remote or hybrid work environments, which only increased the interruptions.

Fortunately, I’ve created a simple method I call The Daily Schedule Creator. It’s meant as a training tool that helps you align your time-specific obligations with personal priorities and then optimize the time that remains — which we’ll refer to as ABTs (Available Blocks of Time).

This method works because it takes advantage of Parkinson’s Law, which states: “Work will expand so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I’ve worked from home for over 11 years, and understanding Parkinson’s Law has had the most impact on how I plan my time, by far!

This visual can help us understand Parkinson’s Law as it relates to our work. The amount of time/effort/energy a given task should take is static, but as the deadline is pushed out, the shape of the “work” also spreads out and expands —- “as to fill the time available for its completion”.

This shows us how appropriately assigning tasks to coordinating ABTs helps us conserve time, energy, and effort in the long run. We can also take this one step further by not only reducing the amount of time we dedicate to the completion of a task or project — but also the overall number of sessions.

If you are working on a large project, you’ll take up mental bandwidth each time you sit down to work on that project. You’ll have to get into the right mindset, open up the correct files on your computer, perhaps pull up research, get out supplies, set up your work area, etc. This all takes up time, effort, and energy, and the more “sessions” we have for a project, the more of this mental labor we’ll perform to complete the task. Here’s what that looks like:

That’s why it can be helpful to minimize the number of sessions a project takes while also being realistic about how long you can sit and concentrate at a given time. For example, if you are trying to complete a project that you have estimated will take approximately 2 hours, it would be best to complete it in a 2-hour session, or two sessions of 1-hour each, instead of four 30-minute sessions or eight 15-minute sessions. etc. (note, this doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t take regular breaks during a session.)

The Daily Schedule Creator will essentially walk you through 3 simple steps to “reverse engineer” your time so that you can identify where your Available Blocks of Time are in your day, know their duration, and strategically plan what tasks you’ll focus on during them.

Here are the steps:

STEP ONEUse your Schedule Management System (Google Cal, iCal etc.) to identify the time-specific meetings, appointments, and other obligations you have today. Block them off on your schedule.

STEP TWO – Identify things you want to make time for today (going for a walk, playing with your dog, reading, making art, journaling, meditating, doing an activity with your kids, etc). Block the needed time for them off on your schedule.

STEP THREE – The remaining spaces are your ABTs (Available Blocks of Time). Use your Task Management System (To-Do, Asana, Trello, etc.) to identify tasks/projects you should prioritize today. Assign them to an appropriately sized ABT.

TIPSUse the first column for checking off each time block/priority as it passes, or mark it as partially complete, delegated, no longer relevant, etc. You can use the dotted column to color-code your schedule — the color-coding can give you a visual overview of how much of your day is spent in meetings, on focused work, or prioritizing self-care and personal time.

The free PDF can be printed or used digitally. Give it a try, and let me know what you think! If you’d like to take this to the next level try making each of your ABTs a “focus session.” You can learn more about that in this blog post, “The Three Habits That Tripled My Productivity.” Ready to dig even deeper? Learn my entire process for creating strong, reliable systems that keep you organized, focused, and motivated every day — be sure to get on the waitlist for the next session of Thyme Transformation (it starts November 28, 2022!). Plus, you’ll get instant access to my best-selling Habit Tracker as soon as you join the list!

Got a specific question or issue you want to discuss with me? Book a Power Hour Call, and I can help you with automation, workflows, systems set-up, or anything else you might be struggling with.

Plus, you’ll get instant access to my best-selling Habit Tracker as soon as you join the list!

The Best Method for Creating a Daily Schedule

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