In the previous lessons, we explored the limitations of the paper-based to-do list as a scheduling system. We also saw how any digital scheduling tool outperforms traditional paper-based scheduling tools in almost every way imaginable.
In this lesson, we close off our discussion on scheduling tools.
Browse this lesson to learn more about scheduling tools and how to use them well.
Don’t forget to take the accompanying quiz at the end of the lesson.
In the previous lesson, we explored the limitations of the paper-based to-do list as a scheduling system. We also saw how any digital scheduling tool outperforms traditional paper-based scheduling tools in almost every way imaginable.
It is said though that tools are only as useful as our methods of using them. Simply adopting an online or digital scheduling tool won’t make you a shining example of efficiency. Let’s look at how to use online scheduling tools correctly, to maximise the digital advantage.
The following steps hold true, no matter which digital or online tool is used
1. Plot your MIT’s and Routine Work time in advance
Plot out your MIT time at least a day in advance. Remember to factor in your chronotype. Do your most important tasks when you’re at your intellectual and physical best. Next, put a start and an end time to each task. Similarly, factor in your routine work time slots too.
2. Schedule in Breaks approximately every 90-minutes
Take care of your energy and glucose levels. Don’t forget to schedule in 15-20-minute breaks. More importantly, do take those breaks, even when it might be easier to skip them.
3. Set alerts and reminders
Set alerts/reminders about 5-10 minutes before the start of each activity slot (MIT, routine work or break), to give yourself time to transition between activities. It’s easy for a task to spill over into the next timeslot when you’re in the thick of things. And spillovers are costly – they generally come at the price of another MIT slot or your break time. As for routine work, as we said in a previous lesson, it has the potential to spill over into everything else and take away your entire day from you, if you don’t have a reminder in place prompting you to switch tasks.
4. Keep your supervisor informed
Ironically, the greatest potential threat to your schedule could also be your biggest ally when it comes to protecting it. We’re referring to your boss! Share your schedule with your supervisor a week, or at least a day in advance. Mention when you will be in the midst of MIT time. Request that they let you know in advance about things they need you to complete, and approach you with ad-hoc tasks later when you’re in your routine work interval.
Also, your supervisor will be in a better position to stand by you, if you ever have to refuse work from peers to protect your schedule. But your boss can only be your ally if they know in advance what your schedule is. Always keep your supervisor appraised of your schedule.
In the absence of these steps, even the most advanced online tool will become another to-do list that merely has moved from paper to a screen. Remember, smart is as smart does.
Digital scheduling tools are superior to traditional paper formats in almost every way. However, using online tools the right way is vital.
Specifically, make sure you:
1. Plot your MIT’s and Routine Work time in advance (at least a day prior)
2. Schedule in breaks every 90 mins or so – and take them diligently
3. Set alerts and reminders to prevent task spillovers
4. Keep your supervisor informed, especially of your MITs