Many of us took the life-changing class What’s Best Next last summer. We struggle with what to do on our “to do” list knowing that something is not going to get done. Instead of struggling wouldn’t it be nice to know EXACTLY what you should be doing at every hour or every day during the work week?
Begin with a list of your obligations (things that are set in stone such as lessons, practices, weekly meetings, and other non-negotiables). Around these fill in the “prep-time” activities for those items. Next, include travel time to and from these essentials.
Separately make a list of all the tasks that must get done in your week grouping items together that are in the same geographical place (i.e. list all home tasks together and all “away” tasks together (i.e. shopping for groceries, picking up laundry from cleaners). Try to schedule these “away” errands around the time of your essential out-of-home activities. Make the most of travel time by scheduling shopping and errands around the events.
Finally, TIME your desk or at home tasks. Know EXACTLY how long it takes you to write the weekly letter to your mom or balance your checkbook. How long each day do you want to spend checking e-mail? Make a list of what is required DAILY and beside each task write the required number of minutes (for more on this see my blog on Pomodoros). Group these tasks by long tasks and short tasks and schedule into your daily time schedule. This is called making a “workflow schedule.” This allows you to begin a habit of doing the same tasks in the same order every day. This will become just like brushing your teeth, then combing your hair, before you head downstairs to greet the day (and the coffee pot). Your workflow schedule should become a natural part of what you do every day.
Your body and mind should synchronize that each day you might:
1) prepare for the morning by putting on exercise clothes, praying, reading your Bible;
2) drink your coffee and have some toast;
3) quickly check e-mail on your phone (5 minutes tops!) for emergencies;
4) go for a run;
5) get some refreshment then spend 1 hour in correspondence (either e-mail or returning phone calls);
6) make a list of afternoon tasks;
7) check evening schedule;
8) make adjustments in weekly schedule and communicate those.
If you are home schooling begin with what time you want to begin school each day and work your other goals around that start time. Remember: reading the paper, checking e-mails, and talking on the phone can eat away productive time. I set a timer on my phone and STOP the
e-mails and phone calls when it is time to start my writing, reading, or preparation process.
A daily workflow should become a daily habit. Yes, each day will be different. Young children need love, affection, and attention. If you have morning kids, schedule your “private workflow” time for the afternoon nap time, or evening when they are watching TV or already in bed. If you have teens, morning will be your best time to get your personal work done because more than likely they will still be in bed. The important thing is to set a daily time and create a workflow that works for you to accomplish what is most important to further your goals.