5 Scheduling Techniques to Reduce Stress & Boost Productivity

Ever feel like there’s never enough time in the day? You are definitely not alone. In a busy world of go, go, go 24/7, most of us could use a little refresher on time management. Below are 5 tips we keep coming across for scheduling that, if followed, could help you carve out a moment to relax.

1/ Schedule meeting or work blocks in 25 or 50 minute increments.

Most people work productively with breaks. While you may feel like you can get more done in a day by powering through without stopping, you are most likely missing out and not giving your mind a chance to reset. Leaving 5-10 minutes between each task or meeting, in addition to any travel time, allows you to mentally summarize what you just completed, asses, and then prepare for the next item on your agenda. Talking a brief walk around the office, grabbing a glass of water, or even taking a moment for a quick gulp of fresh air are all great options if you have a chance. This scheduling technique is referred to as the 50/25 Meeting Format, and has gained so much popularity Google has added the ability to make automatic on your calendar.

2/ Try to make time for lunch, even if it’s only 5 – 10 minutes.

While it would be great if we could all take long lunch breaks every day, that’s certainly not possible for many of us. Whether pushing towards a deadline, running errands, or getting on a call, many people tend to push full throttle through lunch. However, even on your busiest days, try to take at least 5-10 minutes to eat intentionally, away from your desk. The science suggests this lunchtime autonomy can significantly increase productivity during the day. Not only will it help you get some much needed headspace, it will also help your digestion as the body has trouble breaking down food and absorbing nutrients while stressed. Whatever you do – don’t skip lunch! That midday meal provides needed fuel for your body and mind to power through the day.

 

3/ Set your work schedule around your own productivity.

You know when you are most productive and when you are most effective at getting what kind of work done. Some people like to get ‘task’ work done in the mornings, leaving afternoons free for meetings or creative work time. Others find their mind is sharpest during the morning hours, so that is best for problem-solving or brainstorming.  While you may not always have a choice depending on your job and work environment (for example, office- wide meetings that eat into your Monday morning), you have more control over your schedule than you think. We suggest setting your weekly schedule every Sunday, and briefly revising each night for the following day. Don’t forget to leave open blocks of time for work or errands that may arise, but know when & at what times of the day are best for you to do what.

4/ Batch, Limit, and Control Your Email (and other time wasters)!!

While being connected 24/7 can seem great, email can be a huge time waster, especially at the office. Have you ever opened your computer and gotten sucked into your inbox, only to find an hour later that you cleared your inbox and still feel like nothing really got done? Email can allow us to “feel” busy without actually doing any real productive work. One approach is to batch the times you reply or work on email. Try to block out times for email (for example, 30 minutes in the morning, midday and evening) and respond to what needs urgent reply. Then schedule longer follow-ups during open times in your day that fit with your schedule. Batching combined with utilizing Inbox Zero can go a long way to limiting email related stress. Also, If you can, turn off notifications on your phone and computer so your mind isn’t constantly distracted by the barrage of incoming email and messages while you’re trying to get real work done.

5/ Set & communicate your boundaries. And stick to them!

While we all deal with last-minute emergencies or fires from time to time, make sure you set you set your schedule in advance and don’t let your boundaries be dictated by others. Whether you prefer to schedule with a good old-fashioned paper and pen, or use Outlook or Google calendars, make your schedule reflects your personal and professional priorities. And, just as important, make sure you communicate with the relevant people in your life who are impacted. While your boss doesn’t need to know your gym schedule or when you’re heading to the grocery store, it is important that you block time in your calendar, especially if you are in a job where morning, noon and evening are fair game to schedule a meeting or phone call. Similarly, your partner doesn’t need to know exactly when you are meeting with which colleagues, but they should know if you have an important presentation coming up at work that might require some long hours to prep. Communicating with others about your schedule and boundaries sets an important precedent for how you spend your time, and helps you create even more of it! This is a great guide to blocking time on your calendar to ensure productivity.

Want to maximize your time? Check out Spire to identify when you are focused, calm, or tense.

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