How to Plan your Day If You Are Against the Fixed Schedule
Many creative people oppose any rules, reject the very idea of planning and as a result, their life loses the much-desired harmony.
If you are such a person and are not ready to deal with the routine, it is time to refuse the idea of organizing your time according to someone’s rules and improve your personal efficiency following your own creative tempo, life rhythm and its pulse.
The designer and author of books on design Stephen Bradley once observed: “Whether you know it or not, design always has its own internal rhythm. It brings meaning to space and creates the certain mood. It is through the rhythm people can appreciate the design.”
If this approach is familiar to you, I will share some ideas, which I acquired through my professional life and work experience as a time management coach. They will help you to distribute effectively the time you have as well as your power, interests and tasks.
The rhythm of the month
Usually a person manages to do more during a month if he or she doesn’t plan too much. Most people’s natural rhythm prompts that one big project can be finished or one personal goal can be achieved in a month. It doesn’t mean that you must dedicate the whole month only to this goal or project, sometimes you have to deal with more difficult issues, such as, for example, the choice and installation of the new software or space organization in the studio. Having planned three such issues for a month, you will hardly succeed in any of them. However, if you dedicate a month to one certain task, most probably you will finish it or be close to finishing. Take this monthly rhythm into consideration and you will gain greater satisfaction.
Besides, you should consider how your power and energy are distributed during the week. Exceptions, of course, are possible, but most people are able to make no more than two trips a month and not to lose the rhythm. Consider also the emotional costs of arranging parties or having guests. All these bring pleasant diversity into your life, but knock you off the rhythm, especially when an exception turns into a rule.
The rhythm of the week
Projects, meetings, necessary work change from week to week, but you should grasp the rhythm of the week which will be the most appropriate for your activities. Think like a designer: create a draft and then modify your schedule according to the certain project (in this case, the work week).
After a lot of experimenting I set up the following perfect rhythm for myself:
There are a few “introductory” hours in the Monday morning that I dedicate to making a weekly plan and processing the information gathered over the weekend.
In the Wednesday afternoon I am fully occupied with the main project. I am busy with trivia for the whole week long but when I need to focus on the important work - for example, writing a book - it is better to clear a half of the day from meetings. Then I go to my favourite cafe and work without being distracted and without any breaks. I should note two main advantages here: my work goes on and at the same time I have a short rest from everyday routine.
Preparing for the weekend in the Friday evening. I devote about three hours to finishing all work that required more time than I expected, dealing with payments and bills that should better be handled before the weekend.
At least one evening during the week is dedicated to solving personal problems or rest. I am extremely sociable, but even extraverts need a day off from time to time.
Of course, all these items can be switched around and adjusted at any time. However, I prefer this rhythm because it lets me gain the maximum satisfaction from the work I do and set off for the weekend devoted to my family and rest.
The rhythm of the day
No one has ever been able to create a universal formula of the daily schedule. Some people avoid checking emails in the morning, others recommend doing quite the reverse. The point is to admit honestly, what is the best way to allocate the 24 hours for the maximum efficiency personally for you.
As for me, I dedicate the first hour or the hour and a half to planning my day, emails and small urgent tasks, then I focus on the more difficult work. From 10 to 11 am I answer clients’ calls. I prefer to spend no more than four hours a day on meetings and leave the last half an hour to summing up the results. Some of my clients prefer to check morning emails literally for a couple of minutes and then focus on the main work till the lunch. After the lunch break they arrange meetings or handle urgent tasks.
It is necessary to point out your personal preferences: when you are the most concentrated, when it is the most convenient for you to arrange meetings, and what time should be dedicated to processing complicated information and making plans to move in the necessary direction.
The faster rhythm
Be honest with yourself - let yourself spend time on adjusting the daily plan, otherwise you will always “run behind the schedule” and remorse the things you didn’t do.
For example, you would be wise to devote a day before your vacation and a day after it to get your affairs in order and not to appoint any meetings on these days. It will right, if you leave the half of the day after a conference of another big event to strengthening personal links, making acquaintances and looking through your notes - this is the only way to get the most of the past event. One of my acquaintances once told me that after a conference in another city she prefers to fly home in the morning, not in the evening. The night in a hotel gives her an opportunity to finish all her work before getting back home. And remember: the brighter the event stands against your normal daily routine, the more time you will need to recover your normal working rhythm.
Adjust your monthly, weekly and daily rhythm and you will gain the necessary order in your work and as much necessary flexibility in making decisions. It is time for you to find out what tempo and rhythm are suitable personally for you.