Could Scheduling Tasks Help You Get More Done?

Could Scheduling Tasks Help You Get More Done?

SmartPad

This is Week 11 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether scheduling my tasks made me more productive. Specifically, I used SmartDayPro on my iPhone. This was an unusual week for me because I was out of town for several days. Click here for details on my planned test.

How Scheduling My Tasks Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me be realistic. It doesn’t matter how many times I fail to accomplish a huge laundry list of tasks in a day, I continue to believe that today will be different. Scheduling not only enables me to see what I can really do, but what I canNOT do.
  • Allowed me to focus on the most important tasks. Once I admitted that I couldn’t get everything done I would like to, I could focus on the tasks that I most wanted to address each day.
  • Gave me a sense of completion. Like DIT, scheduling provides a closed list of tasks that can be finished. When you’re done, you get free time! As a result, I was motivated to get my work done more quickly.

How Scheduling My Tasks Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Rewriting tasks. The quickest way to get my tasks from IQTell into SmartDayPro was to record them manually. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that until I’d made a paper list of possible tasks and then selected from it. So it was more time-consuming than some other approaches I’ve tested.
  • Doesn’t accommodate Pomodoros easily. I really like working for 50 minutes and then having a ten minute break. I could certainly add breaks to my task list, but it’s a little clunky when you have tasks that take varying amounts of time. I tended to see my calendar/task list on SmartDayPro as one continuous list that didn’t allow breaks until I got it all done. It made me rebel against working.

Did Scheduling My Tasks Help Me Get More Done?

Yes. And probably more importantly, it enabled me to get the most important tasks done. It’s not a stand-alone solution, but it’s definitely an important piece of my productivity puzzle.

**UPDATE**

While I no longer use SmartPad, scheduling has become a critical factor in my productivity and was probably the single greatest lesson I learned from these experiments.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 12

The Repeat Test

This week I’ll be using The Repeat Test as described by Bruce K. I’ll be using the Hourly Chime iPhone app for reminders.

The concept. One aspect of productivity is avoiding time wasters. Bruce suggests tracking your happiness with how you spend time every hour. If you’re unhappy, you’ll write down what you did that you felt was a waste of time. After doing this for a while, you’ll identify activities to avoid and also times of day that are problematic. Bruce doesn’t say so, but knowing we’ll have to write down time wasters should help us prevent them in the first place.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Bruce’s short article on LinkedIn. Each day take a lined piece of paper and record every hour of the day you’re awake along the left side of the paper. For me, that will be 6 am to 11 pm. At the top of every hour, take 20 seconds to review how you spend the last 60 minutes. If you’re satisfied, do nothing. If not, write down what you did that you felt was wasted time. If you’re interested in the Hourly Chime app, it’s .99.

Click here to see how my week with the Repeat Test went.

If you’ve tried scheduling your tasks to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

 

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Can Time Warrior Principles Help You Get More Done?

Can Time Warrior Principles Help You Get More Done?

Time Warrior book

This is Week 10 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested several of the principles outlined in the Time Warrior by Steve Chandler. Specifically, I focused my thoughts on the present task and used action to prevent procrastination. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How the Time Warrior Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Reinforced the power of action. There were a number of times I found myself sitting and stewing about something. My usual m.o. when I have a problem is to think about it, Google it, and talk about it. You can imagine how low my productivity is when I’m in this mode. There’s nothing wrong with problem-solving, but taking action is much better for my mood and certainly better for my productivity. I wish I could say I was batting a thousand in this area this week, but I can at least say I spent less time mulling things over and more time doing things.
  • Helped me recognize the role of thinking in productivity. I had a challenging week physically and emotionally, but I got to experience the huge impact my thinking has on my ability to get things done. The less I do, the worse I feel. The more I think about my problems, the less I do. I’ve known this truth for a long time, but this week reinforced the lesson.

How the Time Warrior Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Not a fun new technique. The nine previous weeks, I had something new to do. This week I just had something new to think. While I think this cognitive strategy has more potential to improve my productivity than anything else I will try, it’s not the most motivating initially.
  • Not well physically. I’ve been battling fatigue, making this a very difficult week to work on my productivity. However, it’s probably the ideal test for me.

Did the Time Warrior Help Me Get More Done?

Yes. Did I have one of my most productive weeks yet? No. But I got more done this week by far than if I had not been focusing on taking action and adopting a present focus. I believe that with time, this attitude has great potential to improve my productivity.

 

 

 

**UPDATE**

While I honestly never think of the Time Warrior book per se, the truth of accomplishment being the best cure for malaise has become entrenched in my thinking.

SmartPad

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 11

This week I’ll be using the principle of scheduling my tasks. I’ll be using the SmartPad and SmartDayPro apps to implement it.

The concept. Research is convincing that deciding when you’ll do something dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll do it. However, the problem with the studies is usually they’re examining the likelihood of subjects doing a task or two. People like you and I would be scheduling multiple tasks. So does the benefit of allocating a time for them disappear? We’ll see.

There’s another potential benefit of scheduling multiple tasks, however. Scheduling requires an estimate of time needed that is used to determine how many tasks can be completed on a given day. The pie-in-the-sky productivity hopes of people like yours truly disappear when confronted with the cold, hard truth of a schedule. Difficult decisions about what won’t be done today can be made with the added inspiration of realizing that not even the scheduled tasks can be completed if you indulge in an extended web vacation. I know I’m not the only one who takes them! The iOS apps from Left Coast Logic automatically squeeze your tasks into your schedule (though you can easily rearrange them). The red line that moves through your agenda along with the clock, eliminating potential tasks when others aren’t completed on time, is very motivating.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Determine a method of scheduling each day’s tasks. You could use a paper or digital calendar or an app like SmartTimePro. Scheduling should be done daily to accommodate changes that come up. Estimate how much time each task will take. I like to over-estimate, doubling estimates that are less than an hour. Be sure your appointments and breaks are on the calendar (keeping your working hours in mind), then add your tasks to the schedule. Refer to the schedule throughout the day as you work.

Click here to see how my week of scheduling with SmartPad went.

If you’ve tried Time Warrior principles to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far: A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

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