Further Benefits of Orange Belt Scheduling

In a prior post I described what it’s like to upgrade one’s skills at Scheduling.

While there’s an immediate benefit to the professional who makes the jump, there is also an important benefit that comes from having an explicit schedule on paper, versus one that’s stored in one’s memory.

Imagine that, for a moment,that your boss approaches you with a new meeting or project. As she describes the work required, you start to feel a bit queasy as you aren’t sure you can deliver the results in the necessary time-frame. A negotiation starts, and it turns out that she really wants to work done, and she starts to ask you questions about your other commitments.

It turns out that White Belts have very different conversations than Orange Belts when confronted by a boss with an urgent request.

If you are a White Belt, your schedule looks like this:

Most of your time demands are stored in your memory, and if you are working with a to-do list it’s likely that her eyes would glaze over if you try show her all the items that are on it. When she presses you on changing around your schedule you get a bit lost, as it’s hard to mentally juggle all the items that you are trying to track, and that’s especially true when you are on the hot seat.  In addition to the task portion of each time demand, you are also keeping in mind some idea of when tasks start and end, in terms of the time of day and, of course, the date.

It’s likely that if your boss is persistent that you’ll find yourself at a disadvantage. You may feel pressured as your objections to the additional work are met with some sharp questions, and on the spot coaching.

On the other hand, if you are an Orange Belt, then your schedule would look like the following… (for the very same week.)

Your major time demands have been laid out in your calendar, and when your boss surprises you and you start to feel queasy, you simply say: “Let us both look at my schedule.”

As your schedule flashes up on the screen, you show her exactly what time you currently have available, and why you feel queasy. She looks at the schedule, and a different kind of conversation ensues. It’s about what should be done when, and why, and which items can be moved from one day to another in order to accommodate the new project. As you try to solve the problem together, you aren’t defying logic, or arguing from a position that’s uninformed by the facts.

Something has to give, and your schedule clearly shows that every time demand you commit to has a consequence. If the project requires overtime, weekend and vacation work (God forbid!) you can have a clear conversation with your boss about what will happen to the precious time you spend with your family, and whether or not those airline tickets for your next vacation are refundable or not.

It’s a mature conversation based on facts, rather than an adversarial argument over your mental schedule, and your feelings.

Now, take your boss out of the picture, and imagine that instead of a time demand originating with your boss, it’s one that starts with a request made by your colleague, spouse or friend.

Then imagine that there’s no-one else in the picture… you are just making commitments of your own, to yourself. With only a White Belt Schedule you are likely to make mistakes, and commit to impossible deadlines in all spheres of your life, and to feel frustrated that you don’t have enough time.

With Orange Belt skills, you are much more likely to make rational decisions and to conduct reasonable discussions, and to have the peace of mind that when you commit to a future deliverable, you can truly deliver.

P.S.  When your Scheduling skills are at a White Belt level, it forces you to make lots of reviews of lists, to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.  Many users have trouble conducting these reviews, as they become onerous when the number of time demands gets to be too large: I outlined this phenomena in the video: “Permanently Fixing the Weekly Review.” Orange Belt Scheduling fixes the problem by replacing lots of lists with one schedule.  Click on the Videos tab at the menu on top to find the video on the page.