Power of a Schedule
By Nancy J. LaPointe
Scheduling gives you control in planning you day, week, month and year. It allows you to meet your goals, whether they are serious and fun. None of us want to micro manage each moment of our lives. We need down time to reflect or experience the anticipated and unexpected. Spontaneous activity adds depth and teaches us flexibility and how to handle the unknown. Down time is needed to absorb and learn from both planned and spontaneous experience. Rushing around from activity to activity without reflection or strategy results in repetitive behavior and minimum growth. Balancing your actions, with compilation of purpose, of goals and for effectiveness, results in forward motion and growth. You have the chance to accomplish a life of intention while not missing out on opportunities of both business and personal in nature.
Scheduling based on time sensitivity can be tight or loose, flexible or rigid. The purpose of setting up a schedule is to organize your actions with your goals. Have you ever had to redo a project or start again because you missed a step? Were you unable to attend a party because you also promised your employer you would finish a project on Saturday? Perhaps you really wanted to go to a ball game but you failed to note it on the calendar so the game came and went? Maybe you needed to register for a course by the 15th, and it is now the 19th. These are just a few examples of life instances without some form a schedule. These may be examples of the frustrations and missed opportunities that occur because you did not build a schedule or come up with a time line in able to have the options to achieve your objectives or be successful without unnecessary stress. Planning centers on your objectives and the tools needed to achieve them. Scheduling is time based and includes the details of specific days, hours, and months.
To schedule, you first need the knowledge of external time lines. Scheduling parameters tend not to be designed by you, but in reaction to others time lines. Whether it is the baseball team’s schedule, the company’s production, college courses, taxes, or a cruise line, these schedules tend to be set up in advance and are not flexible. There are timelines for gardening, household chores, food prep, etc., so establish dates for events which you have flexibility to set and adjust. Activities that include the participation of others require the establishment of expectations such as when and where. That is a core reason that people respect and admire individuals and organizations that are dependable in time and effort.
The core tool to set up your schedule is knowledge. What are your external time lines and the complexity and the consequences of time conflicts? What is your priority, and the stress of the conflicts, and can they be resolved? You structure a time line using a calendar, noting flexible or rigid, self-determined or completely external. Don’t expect to meet every dead line, but without acknowledging the timelines you will miss many opportunities, be frustrated and always reacting to external stress. Designing, updating and monitoring a schedule sets you up to be proactive and lowers stress.
I note on my schedule both personal and professional activities that I consider very important, then also note activities I would like to participate in if I can. I build in flexibility, acknowledging that certain things such as illness, mechanical issues, weather or other people’s actions are out of my control. If I need a work related project completed by March 15th, I don’t wait until March 1st to start on it. If I’m hosting an event on November 17th, I start to prepare for it in October. If I want to attend a conference in June, I set up my practice and home to handle my extended absence in the best manner I can, starting back in April. Some things can be done until closer to the event or activity, but so much can be done ahead of time if you acknowledge and monitor your schedule. You have a chance to control your activities so without working off of a schedule, you have given up the control to chance.