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18 Apr

Reschedule consciously and make it in time

Datum: 2017-04-18 11:07

Some­times we sud­den­ly have more to do in a day than we orig­i­nal­ly planned and have time for. Per­haps this is more of a nor­mal state of things than some­thing out of the ordi­nary — that we have an ini­tial plan, but as more urgent and more pri­or­i­tized tasks are added through­out the day, our plan goes out the window.

As long as we are still pri­or­i­tiz­ing sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly and not just doing what appears urgent, then this is not so bad since we can nev­er antic­i­pate and pre­dict who will email us, what will go wrong and need our imme­di­ate atten­tion, or what new tasks we could be asked to do dur­ing meet­ings through­out the day.

If not today, then later
When unfore­seen things shift our sched­ule, we have to post­pone some of the tasks we intend­ed to do today. We might still have to stick to the dead­lines we agreed with oth­ers on, but the dead­lines we set for our­selves to have some­thing to com­pare our progress to, is a whole oth­er mat­ter. Way too many times have I ran­dom­ly set a new dead­line for these tasks some­time in the week ahead. I have assumed that I will have more time then”, regard­less if that will actu­al­ly be the case or not.

Don’t do that.

I have on these occa­sions set a new due date for the task with­out even check­ing my sched­ule for that day and how many oth­er tasks that are due then as well.

Doing myself a disservice
The con­se­quence of this slight­ly thought­less deci­sion is that when the day in ques­tion arrives, my sched­ule and plan for the day is over­whelm­ing at the begin­ning of the day already, since it both con­tains tasks I have promised oth­ers I would do, plus a bunch of ran­dom things I assigned to do today a week ago when I didn’t have time for them. An iron­ic thanks a lot” to our past self might be in order…

But if this is noth­ing like how you sched­ule your days and han­dle the tasks you end up hav­ing to post­pone, I sin­cere­ly con­grat­u­late you. It means that you have avoid­ed falling into at least this struc­ture pit­fall. But, if this rings a bell or two, then allow me to draw your atten­tion (and my own) to how we can approach the sit­u­a­tion differently.

Try doing this instead
When things do not work out as you planned and you have to post­pone tasks you intend­ed to do today for anoth­er day, then do this:

  1. First of all, have a look in your cal­en­dar to deter­mine how much space you have at your dis­pos­al dur­ing the day you are intend­ing to post­pone the task for. How many meet­ings do you already have sched­uled that day? How much time do we (prob­a­bly) have for any­thing oth­er than meet­ings? If the day is more or less ful­ly booked already, then we will be wise to choose anoth­er day instead.

  2. Now, have a look at your to-do-list and find out what oth­er tasks that are due that day. Per­haps you have a to-do-list-tool that lets you view both the cal­en­dar and to-do-list in one win­dow. If not, I am sure you can think of a way to view them both simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. But if you can­not, nev­er mind, view­ing them one at a time is just fine. If the list of tasks due on the par­tic­u­lar day you have in mind is exten­sive as it is, you can either choose anoth­er day or you can move one of the tasks due on this day to anoth­er date if that task is less impor­tant” than the tasks you would like to sched­ule in its place.

  3. If you get the feel­ing that the task you are try­ing to place will take more than a day to com­plete, this is a clear sig­nal that the task is too big. It is not a to-do-task (which is defined as some­thing that takes less than a day to com­plete), but a small project, which you will be wise to divide into sev­er­al small­er parts — into to-do-tasks.

  4. When you locate a day that is not already full of meet­ings and for which you have a rea­son­ably small num­ber of oth­er tasks due, then make the task you weren’t able to pri­or­i­tize today due on this day instead. Chances are now greater that you actu­al­ly com­plete it.

Make it in time with­out stress
If you just ran­dom­ly select a day when post­pon­ing tasks, chances are that you will just have to move them for­ward again. The whole resched­ul­ing will be an inef­fi­cient pro­ce­dure in which we spend more time and effort than we should on mov­ing, resched­ul­ing and repri­or­i­tiz­ing. Let’s use that extra time it takes to shuf­fle tasks about, to actu­al­ly do them instead. 

Some of us may expe­ri­ence hav­ing to move tasks to a lat­er date as a minor fail­ure. Hav­ing to fre­quent­ly resched­ule and not be able to go through with our dai­ly plan can in the long-run feel discouraging.

If we there­fore spend a few extra sec­onds re-plan­ning more con­scious­ly as sug­gest­ed in this tip, we are more like­ly to have time for what we want to do — when we want to do it. Fin­ish­ing what we intend on time makes us feel suc­cess­ful, and that accom­plish­ment gives a pos­i­tive, moti­vat­ing rush.

What’s your way?
How do you ensure that you get it right the first time when esti­mat­ing the right time for doing a par­tic­u­lar task? Per­haps you have a par­tic­u­lar trick I haven’t heard of yet, and if you do, I would love for you to share by com­ment­ing below.