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5 simple steps to take control of your schedule

By Arvind Pandey
Published in Life & Productivity
March 19, 2021
3 min read

“Focused action beats brilliance.” – Mark Sanborn

Remote work has brought a lot of flexibility in our life but at the same time, it has created many overheads as well. One of the overhead is losing control of our schedule. I tried many different ways to overcome and finally came with this minimalist framework that helped me to navigate through my schedule smoothly.

What is a framework?

In simple term,

framework is something that has a definite structure and a path to navigate through the structure.

Here are 5 simple steps to add this framework to your life and try if it works for you.

📆 Calendar invite for self and a document

To have a routine, we need some kind of reminder. A calendar invite is kind of a good thing to start with. The calendar invite also gives a sense that this is important and no doubt this is going to be the most important meeting for you.

Create a calendar invite for 5 days a week (Mon - Fri) for 30 minutes. Call it Personal Sync.

It would be great if it’s done as the first thing before you start your work. My typical day starts at 11:00 AM, so I have created the self invite from 11:00 - 11:30 AM. Create a google document and attach the document link to the invite. We will talk about in the coming section what this document will be used for. Let’s join the meeting.

🌞 Personal Sync

The day started, and you are in your first important meeting of the day, meeting with yourself. Create a heading named with the current date. Under the heading, start adding all the todos that you plan for the day. Break the tasks as granular as possible. This will help you complete the task faster because it will give you clarity on the steps needed to complete the task.

In case you are struggling to come up with todos. Start with What/How. It will guide you to create ToDos. For example, what do I need to fix this issue? Perhaps, a meeting with a team or follow up with a person. That becomes a to-do for you.

Once you have created the todos for the day, it’s time to prioritize those todos.

🔍 Task Prioritization

Though, creating a list of todos is one step towards clarity of work. But, it also creates confusion around what to be done first.
Everybody has limited office hours each day, and it’s important you pick up the tasks in order of importance.

Here is one very popular and proven way to approach such a scenario. Start prioritizing your tasks in four categories.

task prioritization
task prioritization

  1. Urgent, important - This should be the top priority. One example of this can be a production bug. You cannot run away from this kind of task.
  2. Not urgent, important - Planning, learning new things, etc. This kind of task will have an impact in the coming weeks, sprints, months, and years. So, plan them accordingly.
  3. urgent, not important - Some meetings, some calls. Be selective about doing this.
  4. not urgent, not important - Some calls, some meetings. Avoid, Avoid.

Now, you have created the todos, you have planned your day. Let’s start acting on them one by one.

🎯 The actual day/work - work in progress

Now, the actual work starts. Start with the most important tasks first. As you progress the day, keep taking notes in the same document.

Write down any question that pops up during the day.
Write down your struggles while doing so and your thought process to overcome them.
Write down all your wins - be it small or big.
Write down about those people who helped you during the day in any way and appreciate them when you get a chance to do that.
Indirectly, this is your personal-professional diary.

Please note, for the same day, todos should be always at the top and notes and questions below it. So, literally, you are on top of the things 😊.

✔️ End of the day

So, it’s the end of the day now. Look at your document. Go through notes and questions. Create further action items using the notes and questions. They become the todos for the next day along with newly added todos. And this circle continues.

💰 Bonus Point - The further advantage

The google document that was maintained as part of personal sync can be used for many purposes but not limited to:

  1. Check-in history: This can be used for check-in history. You have records of all the work done by you. You can pull out the points and can create a good case for yourself when asking for raise. There can’t a better way to put your points with dates and details.
  2. For appraisal: This can be used for your appraisal and also if you manage a team, you can store critical points about your reports that can help you to complete the appraisal without breaking your head at the end of the appraisal cycle.

🔖 Summary

  1. Create a calendar invite for yourself with google word document link in the invite, call it Personal Sync
  2. Attend the Personal Sync meeting and write todos
  3. Prioritize the todos
  4. The actual work - take further notes in the word document
  5. End of the day - revisit the document and note down follow ups and action items
  6. Bonus - Use word document to create useful and data driven points for appraisal and raise

I hope this was helpful. Let me know in the comment section what are your personal hacks that you use in your daily life.


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