There’s that moment in Jurassic Park where things start to go awry with the controlled environment of those manufactured dinosaurs. Jeff Goldblum’s comment, “Life finds a way,” applies to more than this movie, though. Sometimes our best-laid plans simply don’t work. Life finds a way to smash through our ability to control our schedules. You may become stressed when that happens but the reality is that overplanning can sometimes be a bad thing. Here’s why overplanning won’t work. What is the right way to plan your day?
Start with Your Goal and Work Backwards
You’ve had that sense of panic. It’s stress-producing, and disrupting your efforts to control your day can burn you out if this happens too often. While you tried to organize your day down to the minute, the unexpected occurred, and your entire schedule had to be scratched.
The problem could be that you’re working on a product with a devilish amount of detail. Maybe you struggle with a task that sets you back on every goal you set for the rest of the day. Maybe an unexpected crisis derails your entire schedule.
Just hearing these scenarios stresses you out. We can take a cue, though, from the Agile methodology mindset to help guide how to organize your daily tasks. In Agile, a daily stand-up sets the tone for the tasks you’re undertaking. Accountability comes with every standup because you go in front of your peers and have to say what you worked on yesterday and what the plan is for today.
What Agile can teach us is there should be one or two overarching goals for each day. The goal itself is the starting point for the work you’ll do. You can organize tasks working backwards from that goal. Can you control every single detail of the tasks that move you toward your goal?
Jeff Goldblum would probably laugh at this question and tell you that control is an illusion. Okay, so what can you do to avoid being frustrated by your efforts to over plan and over control your day.
Consider Time Blocking
Surely you’ve heard of time blocking? Instead of making an hour-by-hour list of the tasks you want to get done, time blocking allows for a little more variation in your schedule. Time blocking is a process of carving out large time blocks to complete tasks. Within the time block you have the autonomy to handle what needs to be done, but you can do it your way. A typical schedule takes two- or three-hour increments and places one goal within each time block. Key to this process is also blocking out time to check the distractions—social media, email, your IM. Let your team know you’re working within time blocks and you’ll get back to them by the end of the day.
Finally, you should allow a time block that is open at the beginning of each new day. Why? That gives you time to complete any tasks that somehow got bumped by a crisis the day before. This is a much more humane way that will help you still loosely control your schedule without going over the top.
Blackstone Talent Group knows the pressures you face. If you’re in a work environment that stressing you out, maybe it’s time for a change. Contact our team today to find out how we can help.