Tools for Productivity: Is Keeping a Schedule Becoming Old School?

Some people believe that maintaining a schedule is something of the past and they believe that it is vitalizing and indulging to have no set agenda.  Lifehack.org states that: not having a set schedule frees you up to work on whatever you feel is most important- for example; in the past 20 years Arnold Schwarzenegger hasn’t kept a set schedule and they attribute this to the fact that his schedule was clear of any obligations and he could spend the required amount of time focusing on his political career.   Some people can thrive without have a schedule and then there are others who certainly need to keep track of everything they need to get done.  Life is a process of trial and error and finding the best, most successful and efficient ways of dealing with things is trial and error as well; knowing your basic schedule leaves you free to make other commitments, or decline them, based on the other things you have going on.Some would have you believe that maintaining a calendar is becoming a thing of the past. They think that this strategy allows increased and enhanced productivity. Why? Because they feel that it is invigorating and empowering not to be tied to any set agenda and timetable.

This from lifehack.org:

“This idea comes from a wonderful book called A Perfect Mess, which explains how not keeping a schedule has been key to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s success as a movie star, politician, and businessman over the last 20 years.

Want to meet with Arnold? Sure, drop on by. He’ll see you if he can. But you might want to call first. Sorry, he doesn’t schedule appointments in advance.

As a result, for 20 years he has been free to work on whatever is most important in his life at any time. Those of you in California may recall how, once Arnold decided to run for Governor, he went into a blaze of action and activity that resulted in a landslide victory. The book attributes this in part to the fact that his schedule was completely clear and he could spend all day, every day on his new political career, without having to worry about distractions or commitments.”

I’m fully aware that there are many folks advocating that you NOT keep a schedule. If you’ve already figured things out, and you’ve found that this no-schedule approach works for you, great.

If you’ve found that you need to keep a schedule, and if you’re like me – someone who continuously assesses, monitors, modifies, and adapts my approach and strategies, please read on.

And if you’re one of those people who spends a lot of time trying to figure out what you have to do, and by when – keeping a long, dynamic, and ‘subject to change’ To-Do list – you may think a schedule would be crippling and constrictive, but you’d be surprised.

I do watch my calendar. I attempt to hold to an agenda for many reasons, not the least of which is because I actually find that keeping a schedule of my commitments and tasks is, in reality, liberating.

Why? Because life happens. Things change. By saying definitively that “I am not keeping a schedule”, I’ve limited myself by drawing a line in the sand. I’ve ascribed to a single, one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges I face.

Instead, I choose to admit that there’s no single answer that works for me in every situation (and I’d never presume to tell you that one strategy will solve your problems, nor everybody else’s).

I’ve found that life is a process of trial and error, as is finding the best, most productive, efficient, and effective ways of accomplishing things.

The key for those of us who do keep a schedule is to block out times to do things, maybe color-code them by which project they belong to, and use those times as a guideline, not as a strict requirement.

By knowing how much time you’re planning on spending on a project, and where you are in that project, you can avoid a lot of the stress that comes from being disorganized and rushing from project to project.

When you can look at your day and see that it’s covered in blocks, you can honestly say “No, I’m sorry, I just don’t have time” to other projects.

Knowing your basic schedule leaves you free to make other commitments, or decline them, based on what you really have on your plate.

It’s amazingly freeing, once you get used to it, and you may find yourself living by a schedule even if you’ve never so much as marked one block of a calendar before.

Thanks to Declutter It! for including this post in the Organize Your Life Carnival.

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