Slaves to the Schedule

We are imprisoned by our agendas and it is up to us to break free.

Productivity has imprisoned us and we are under the impression that our weeks have become marathons. We are caught between work, extracurricular activities, family chores, yoga classes, and cleaning the garage. Yet, we are not short of helpful tools: electronics, books, training, and more.

We are pressured from every angle and the worst of it is that we want to do everything—answering your voicemail, email, work and family requests—straightaway and at once, talk about losing your bearings. The executives I usually encounter are often tired, stressed, out of breath, and drowning in work.

Ironically, the busiest people are also the most available. How do they do it? Well, they do not manage their time, they make their choice and stick to it. So, before I offer you a miracle management software for your to-do list—follow their example—reflect on what is important today and establish your priorities. It is important to feel in control and not be paralysed by the neverending tasks. You are the master of your time and it is good to fully understand your own pace to determine what demands more from you.

Already, you know how to plan your activities with regards to time and which to invest in. But how do you do this? Here are some essential points:

  • Avoid time-wasters: every person or event—trivial and pointless—that interrupts you for a few minutes or hours before an activity. In short, sheer nuisances. Do not hesitate to tell them that you are busy at the moment, but will be available later.
  • Finish what you start; nothing weighs your mind down more than worrying about a file when you have plunged into another. You will lose your concentration, efficiency, and sense of achievement from finishing your work. If the workload is too heavy, delegate it!
  • Do not be a slave to technology. All the tools—electronic messengers, planners, and the internet—are at your service and detriment. Cut your computer’s chatter and deactivate the auto-reply function. Only check your messages when you decide. Listen to your voicemail and handle, classify, transfer, or delete them. Turn off your instant messengers as often as possible. Nothing is worse than being constantly interrupted by pop-ups, glued to your sceen, while in the middle of writing an important memo.
  • Use a unique agenda to write down activities, client and teacher meetings, or when your passing by your get-together at work. If you are on a network, limit your access to save time. If you have assistants, communicate your instructions clearly to them.
  • Clean your desk and computer, regularly. Organize, sort, and classify your files and—most important—throw out whatever is unnecessary. Nothing good comes from keeping tons of information thinking it will be useful some day, you are wasting your time. Get rid of all those Post-It Notes glued to your computer, it’s not a Christmas tree. Do not sink into the paranoia of copying files for fear of losing them. You will risk wasting your time looking for the good version.

There is a balance to be found in your priorities between wasting your time, watching the hours go by, and spending your life chasing after it. 

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