Our daily office routine holds many distractions in meetings, last-minute urgencies, breaks, helping others, etc. Sometimes, personal stuff, such as paying off bills, a call from home to pick up groceries, etc., also distracts us. They not only disturb our planning & focus but also leads us to procrastinate our work. Why? Because we can’t find time for ourselves & that makes us lose interest in doing the work. An ‘Unschedule’ can help us manage time for work & non-work-related activities and beat procrastination.
Devised by Neil Fiore and detailed in the book “The Now Habit,” Unschedule is a powerful time management technique.
Plan for the work that you have to do, to manage time for the work that you want to doThe Now Habit, Neil Fiore
Why do we need this technique?
Being a procrastinator, I find this technique useful to help me start with the work instead of pushing it. We have at least 1,000 different thoughts running in our minds when we begin our day. It involves office work, personal time, health, kids, family time, home stuff, and many more. Every day we struggle to balance them all. Mostly, one of the two things happens:
- Either we can focus on personal/home stuff & the day at the office is distracted or
- We push all other things to the weekend to focus on work only for the day
Result? We pile up so much work for those 48 hours on the weekend that we feel anxious & overwhelmed. In the end, we procrastinate all the stuff & end up doing completely different things
What is Unschedule?
It is a drastic shift in thinking from how we generally schedule & plan our work. Rather than filling the calendar with the activities you want to do, you add only the pre-planned or commitment-related tasks.
- Schedule only fixed commitments & play.
- Previously committed tasks such as meetings, lunch plans, etc.
- Time for all leisure and personal activities
- Health-related tasks such as swimming, exercise, yoga, etc.
- Routine tasks such as commute time to work or medical appointments
- Socializing plan with family & friends
- Fill in your Unschedule only when you finish 30-minutes of uninterrupted work.
- Reward yourself with a break or more exciting work after each period you work.
How to begin?
I have a template that I use in my training to help clients beat procrastination issues. You can download the template & start using it directly, or you can create your copy & make changes or rename the file.
Here is a quick walk-through of the template:
- Start with a week’s plan. You can use either a calendar that supports a week-view or a spreadsheet or pen-paper
- Choose your start & end time in general. Divide time intervals into 30 minutes slots each
- Fill in all the non-work activities for the week that are certain to happen. It will help you realize the actual available time.
- Add color to a specific set of activities to make it more interesting. For instance, blue for routine work, green for health activities, etc.
- Leave everything else blank.
As you progress with the day, fill in the ‘blanks’ after finishing any task without interruption for at least 30 minutes. Also, reward yourself with free time or any other preferred work before you begin your next focused work because you earned it!
At the end of each day, count the total no. of hours you spent working to sharpen your perspective of time & the pattern of work distribution.
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- Keep a day at leisure to enjoy all your free time, small tasks, or party.
- Start the work without worrying about how & when to finish it!
- It takes a while to form any habit. Don’t stop in between. When you feel blocked & that feeling of give-up kicks in, hold on for the next 5 mins to let it pass. You will indeed find a solution later!
What will you get?
This technique requires a complete change in the way we are used to scheduling our work. But, it is an excellent change to opt for. It might seem difficult to follow at the start, but as they say, Rome was not built in a day!
- It brings in the sense of confidence and frees all the guilt of not doing non-work activities.
- You are motivated to start the work because of the rewards you have set for finishing work.
- Your day will eventually become more productive.
- You will be surprised to see a new positive outlook toward working & control over procrastination.
Try the Unschedule way to drive yourself towards success. It’s motivating, fun, & simple!
I originally published this article on Medium.