A significant portion of my (steep) learning curve, upon returning to school, was how to estimate the amount of time needed for projects/homework/exam study and how to locate that necessary time on my calendar. If a financial budget tells our money where to go instead of wondering where it went, a To Do Calendar effects much the same outcome.
No surprise, I note regular meetings, class times, or appointments on Google Calendar which automatically syncs with my smart phone. However, I also keep a little planner that shows seven days at a time and on each day I have two lists: “must get done” and “would be great to get done.” My lists include everything from work outs to work projects to home work. No one else needs to see this, which is why I do not put these lists on Google Calendar.
In his book, The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less, Richard Koch persuasively argues that since we are motivated to do what enjoy… schedule those on your calendar and fill in the gaps with the lesser desirable, but still must get done activities.
Search Parkinson’s Law on Wikipedia and the first line reads, “Originally, Parkinson’s law is the adage that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’.” So if the difference is getting something done in one hour versus four hours (and be honest, if the quality won’t be four times as great), stick the task in a one hour time block, get it done, and move on. Get on to the activities that really make your heart sing.
My next recommendation, stolen from my sister, Rocket Scientist, is to give yourself a heads up. One day, snooping through her calendar (I’m the older, shorter sister and have the life long privilege of snooping) I noticed that a week before a major due date, like a paper or exam, she had written in big bold red letters, **Project Due 1 Week**, and the same for two, three and four weeks out. Brilliant. No longer would I be ambushed when I turned the page in my calendar and to my great horror, realized a project I should have been chipping away at for at least a month is now due in less than five days.
What are your tips and tricks to a happier, more productive day?
I like this idea of having a “must get done” and “want to get done” list. I’ll have to try that for the rest of the semester!