Scheduling – How to Build the Most Effective Work Schedule
Learn the ultimate Scheduling Techniques from our friends over at ClickTime:
Have you ever kept track of how much work you actually complete during the day? This timesheet template can help you get started. Whether you’re sitting at a desk from nine to five, a freelancer working odd hours to meet a deadline, or an entrepreneur spending your days networking, it can be hard to set an effective work schedule that keeps you on track. Office workers might argue that they don’t literally need to be in the office five days a week; entrepreneurs will say their effective work schedule starts with morning routine.
How do you know what’s best for you? Here are some steps to take to start building an effective work schedule based on your habits, your peak productivity hours, and your daily commitments to your clients and coworkers.
Carve Out Specific “Focus Time”
Focus time — i.e, uninterrupted time where you can achieve a lot without distraction — is precious. Unfortunately that means you have to mine it with care, and embrace morning, late evenings, or even weekends. Build your schedule around one of these blocks used to answer email, do some research, or think strategically. Mentally, knowing you have this time saved can reduce stress and help you stay productive and on track, even when the rest of your day is packed.
Figure out When Your Brain Is at Its Best
Your sleep schedule and your work schedule are closely connected, though maybe not in the way that you think. Sleep experts have determined that the way you should build your work schedule depends largely on your natural biorhythms.
Using animal descriptors, sleep specialist Michael Breus has developed four “chronotypes”. These are profiles that describes one’s natural sleep habits and energy patterns. Chronotypes are anchored in your sleep patterns, but then take it a step further to identify how your energy levels wax and wane during the work day. For example, “dolphins” are light sleepers who need little to know sleep and are at their most alert by late afternoon. “Bears” on the other hand, start to run low on energy around 2PM, with two peaks of productivity in the morning and midday.
Knowing when you’re most alert can help you build your schedule to take advantage of your natural energy. Don’t struggle against what your body and mind wants!
Experiment with Prioritization
There have been volumes written on hacking your to-do list and getting things done. Our advice? Try a few different tactics to see if the way you’re building your schedule helps you prioritize effectively. Some schools of thought suggest starting the day with an easy task to help you ramp up to the more important items on your agenda. Others suggest stepping straight into your most critical work when you’re freshest. If you can remember, try different techniques for structuring your day around the items on your to-do list. See which ones stress you out. Generally, the more stressed you are, the less effective the method.