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Schedule Your Day in 15 Minute Increments

Debra Paschke

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For me, I used to see women always on the run. Desk pilled high. Lunch: a Power Bar & Diet Coke and they are late everywhere they go and proud of it because they are SOOO busy.

That is how I thought all successful people were, so that is the person I became. I quickly learned, however, that being out of control and out of balance with my time did not make me happy.

What can you do? Start with monthly calendar control. The first things I mark off are trainings, immediate family birthdays, holidays, any vacation time and my son's ballgames. I then circle the days
I want to work my business, and what's left are nights off.

Step 2: Weekly Planning Learn to block out your weekly schedule first thing at the start of each week before the blank spaces start filling up with errands and other time thieves.

I block out my weekly schedule every Sunday starting with a pre-made weekly sheet. It is pre-printed with all of my constants (exercise, building calls, car-pooling, meal planning, and grocery store. ) Then I add to it based on my meeting schedule that week. Next, I add any appointments I or my kids may have - doctor, dentist, etc. I then allot phone time because this is an activity that BUILDS my business and needs to be TOP PRIORITY. Next, I add one personal goal that week (like cleaning a closet, or getting the oil changed in my car). What is left is where I can schedule personal errands and lunch dates. Those are scheduled last around my business, not the other way.

I then go over my calendar with my husband, so he has a clear understanding of how the week looks. He quickly learned that if he wants to ask me to run last-minute errands for him, I require notice to plan it in my week. Good communication with your family is key. You may have your time all mapped out, but if you are the only one that knows the schedule, you will get thrown a curve ball.

Finally, daily time mapping. Each night, using my weekly planning sheet as a guide, I plan out my next day using 15 minute increments. Just writing down what you need to do is a great start, but taking it a step further and estimating how long each activity will take, along with the order you need to accomplish your tasks in is critical.

Sometimes we don't realize that we have way too much on one day and then get frustrated when we don't accomplish it all, but in reality it was impossible to begin with.

You will also find that by mapping out your time you will be more productive and stay “on task", plus its fun! I've tried doing this first thing in the morning, but you will find that you will accomplish more if you plan your day the night before.

You also start your day running, because you know exactly what you are going to do and in what order.

So that's the basic concept, now here are just a few planning tips:

Tip #1: When making your daily to-do list, do what you dread most first. This relieves you of “worrying" about it all day, or the guilt if you didn't do it because you procrastinated too long.

Tip #2: Utilize down time
Be prepared to maximize your time everywhere, especially during down time. I make calls before my son's ballgames. I always have a motivational book or Reflections in the car in case I'm somewhere where I'm waiting.

Tip #3: Handle mail and E-mail once
Don't get caught in the paper trap! Here's what I've found keeps me organized and saves time. I open my mail over the trash, so I can throw away what I don't need and make piles for the rest.

I have a shred pile, a bill pile, an ad/coupon pile and a business file. I take my business pile immediately to my office and file it in my business binder, the rest of the mail gets filed in folders in the kitchen.

Handle E-mail once a day
While it's unrealistic to suggest that you only check your E-mail once a day, I do suggest blocking out the time to handle your E-mail once each day. Just like your mail, sit down to read your E-mail and decide which is needed - an E-mail response or a phone call. Many times a phone call will take less time than an E-mail reply, so be aware of how you are spending your valuable time.

If you choose E-mail, then reply right then, don't put it off even if it requires finding information before doing so - this is why you allot the time. If you are unable to get the information needed right then, simply reply back when you will get them the answer, then print out the E-mail and put it in your binder, so you don't forget to follow up.

Your habits will determine your future - if the habits you “currently" have would produce more, the more would have already showed up!

I encourage you to make a habit of planning your month, week and day.
To experience the best balance of your time, get started on this immediately. Just do it, and adjust along the way and you will find what works for you.

Organization was not my strength, so if I can do this, so can you.

Debra Paschke


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