Wisdom//

If You Want To Do It, Schedule It

Set a deadline, but don’t fail to make a schedule

Courtesy of Chutima Chaochaiya / Shutterstock
Courtesy of Chutima Chaochaiya / Shutterstock

Lately, I’ve had a lot on my plate, and unscheduled time makes me uncomfortable. Making time for deep work is a big theme for me right now.

If you’re serious about getting anything worthwhile done, you should consider scheduling it. What gets scheduled gets done.

It’s one of the best ways to work deeply and produce high-end value.

“A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods,” says Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.

It sounds simple, most people are not disciplined and committed enough to follow through. They end up procrastinating. The problem is this: we set a deadline, but not a schedule says James Clear. He writes:

“In my experience, a better way to achieve your goals is to set a schedule to operate by rather than a deadline to perform by. Instead of giving yourself a deadline to accomplish a particular goal by (and then feeling like a failure if you don’t achieve it), you should choose a goal that is important to you and then set a schedule to work towards it consistently.”

How many times have you written long to-do lists and probably got just half of them done? Or how many times have you written lists and they just stayed there unchecked?

Scheduling makes you the master of your daily schedule, helps you balance the urgent with the important, and forces you to respect your priorities.

Use your calendar to make life better instead of worse.

High-performers view their time like the best investors view their capital, as a resource for maximum returns. They make every minute count.

Most people know what is good for them. They know all the good habits that will make them happy, efficient, and live life to the fullest.

They don’t avoid fulfilling life habits because of ignorance of their value, but because they have not planned and blocked time for them.

They don’t take the next step to get it done — scheduling. They are waiting to feel motivated, inspired or feel better to get started.

If you live your life like that, everything will take twice as long. Life is too short to wait for a great day to invest in better life experiences.

If you’ve ever said, “I need to read more”, “I want to start meditating”, “ I have to save more money”, or “ I want to start exercising”, you have to put it on your calendar to improve your chances of getting started.

And when you do, commit to it. Respect that time.

I recently committed to writing every day, between the hours of 9 am and 12 noon. I don’t have to feel like it to write. I am most active in the morning, so I choose my title the night before, and start writing the next morning.

I’ve come to learn that if you want to get something done, you need to schedule it. For me, writing was one of those things.

I really enjoy it, and learn a lot in the process. It’s beneficial for my personal growth and productivity. Making it a habit will take time, but I want to stick to it and make it a consistent habit.

Which is why I’ve now scheduled it, and blocked out time for it. I don’t allow anything to get in the way of it. No notifications, or distractions.

Just focused-writing.

I don’t schedule everything in detail though, I make the blocks, and do the one thing during that block.

I don’t micromanage my writing time in the morning. It’s just a big chunk for writing. The bigger aim is to complete the post/piece I have planned the night before.

I have a rough plan of what I want to get done in the morning, but I don’t have a specific word counts or minute-by-minute breakdowns.

What’s important is that I get one thing done at that time — complete a post, or a piece and check it off. Making a writing block and sticking to it is how I write my Medium posts.

Don’t panic when things don’t go according to the plan though. Don’t aim for perfection, focus on consistency.

The same goes for tasks and projects I want to accomplish. If I wish to get something done, I schedule the time to do the job. The bigger aim of this simple approach is to get important things that mean a lot to you onto your calendar before time anyone else takes control of your day, says Coleman Collins. She explains:

The whole point of this approach is to get the blocks of important stuff onto your calendar before everyone else divides up your day and your focus as they seem fit. It takes some work, but the alternative is having your life vigorously scheduled by people who don’t necessarily have your best interests in mind.

Scheduling is not the only way to get things done, but it’s definitely a system that’s been working for me.

It creates a directed, focused flow throughout the day.

“History has shown that the most productive people use wildly different scheduling techniques depending on their circumstances, personalities, and energy levels writes Stephen Altrogge of Zapier.

Scheduling should not just be restricted to tasks. Schedule your breaks and free times for self-care. Schedule time for reading, exercising, meditating, journaling, walking, creative pursuits, and any habit you want to adapt.

It will reduce your tendency to procrastinate.

Cal Newport, the best-selling author of Deep Work, swears by the scheduling method. He says:

Sometimes people ask why I bother with such a detailed level of planning. My answer is simple: it generates a massive amount of productivity. A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.

By setting and sticking to personal a daily schedule, you ensure that you are the one prioritizing your life. As Essentialism author Greg McKeown says, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

Closing thoughts

A good daily schedule empowers you with a sense of purpose, and focus. It’s the blueprint for a successful life.

If you’re too busy to spend a few minutes planning for tomorrow, you are exactly the person who needs a scheduling system.

Step away from the busyness, and analyse how you’ve spent your last few days. Are you producing high-end value? If not, you are probably due a productivity purge.

To accomplish more on a consistent basis, schedule your tasks, don’t race towards a deadline without a solid plan.

Originally published on Medium.

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