Solving Scheduling Problems – Summary of Our Findings

There are a handful of working professionals who have chosen to use their calendars as their hub for all their planning activity.

The challenges they run into are only rarely mentioned in time management and productivity books, programs and websites: the overwhelming conventional wisdom states that it’s impossible to use a schedule in this way, and that one should only use lists. Unfortunately, these statements (so far) remain empty assertions, without the backing of either academic research or recent, direct experience by the author.

This leaves the working professional who has decided to use this technique without help… until now. Here are some of the articles we have written and research we have found to back up our central hypothesis: it’s possible to execute either a list-based or a schedule-based strategy successfully. Our additional hypothesis is that, in general, schedule based strategies are more suitable for handling large numbers of time demands.

The Benefit of Developing Advanced Scheduling Skills – this article compares Listing and Scheduling directly.

Videos based on the work of Dezhi Wu – her research shows the superior results gained by those who maintain electronic schedules.

Student Time Management Video – watch as a student as she develops her weekly schedule and you will notice some of the challenges she has that you might share.

We have trained hundreds of people in the use of these techniques and often provide the following specific advice, which will become the topic of future posts on this blog:

  • Make sure to leave sufficient time between scheduled activities. Leave buffers in each day of unscheduled time so that you account for surprises.
  • Be willing to juggle your schedule at a moment’s notice. This activity has everything to do with real life demands, which change on a dime.
  • Don’t turn your calendar into a source of guilt. It’s meant to be a powerful guide, not a rigid, Nazi-like ruler of your life.
  • Use your schedule to help get into the Flow State.
  • Use a smartphone and/or tablet to ensure that you have a schedule with you at all times.
  • Audible reminders are a great to alert yourself that a new time demand is about to start.
  • Balance supporting lists with your schedule.
  • The point of using this technique is to achieve peace of mind, which means that you must b aware of the times when you are trying to schedule too much.
  • For an in interesting story of how to navigate a few scheduling problems, read my book – Bill’s Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure.
  • Another point of using this technique – to move your schedule from your mind and into a calendar that’s in front of you (we used to say, “on paper,”  but that’s clearly not the case
  • Speaking of paper- forget about trying to manage lots of time demands via a paper calendar, for multiple reasons.
  • You can actually use the way you language a time demand as a source of motivation e.g. instead of “goto gym” you might write “dropped 10 more pounds by the wedding”

Update: Much of the discussion on schedule usage has been moved to