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Scheduling vs Over-Scheduling: How to Find a Balance

Creating a schedule and keeping on the schedule are key facets of productivity, but scheduling too much of your day can be counterproductive. Learning how to structure your day without setting too many time constraints or activity restrictions is a difficult balance to find, and varies from person to person. Finding that balance can help you be more flexible while still getting tasks done in a constantly changing work environment.

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Unless you work on an assembly line, your job responsibilities and tasks will change, and for some people changes occur from minute to minute. Even if there is very little change in what your job entails, meetings, brainstorming sessions, and time crunches change the face of your day. The first rule of time management is to try to schedule your day, so that you can keep your work on track even in a rapidly changing environment. If you schedule the parts of the day you can control, you will know what to expect and can plan for it. If you schedule your day too rigidly, you can reduce your productivity and increase your stress.

Hinders Flexibility and Agility

If you work in a fast-paced environment, like a high-volume help desk, your directives may change several times a day. Scheduling your day based on the assumption that there will be no major operational changes or emergencies, hinders your flexibility. Success in a fast-paced environment is based on your ability to keep up and perform your duties under stress. If your schedule inhibits your ability to be agile in the workplace, it will affect your personal performance, and it may affect your coworkers as well.

Limiting Your Creativity

Creativity can strike at any moment. You may be on the way back to your office after a meeting and think of a brilliant idea or solution. Putting that idea on the backburner because you have a block of time scheduled to do something else may mean forgetting it completely. Even if you take a moment to write down your idea, it does not mean that you will be able to recall everything about it when you return to it later. Deviating from your schedule for a short time to document your solution or flesh out your idea can result in a major career breakthrough, but you will never know if you neglect to take the time.

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Photo by qisur.

A well-structured schedule that allows you to roll with changes at the office may be difficult to create. If your schedule is too rigid, you may soon find yourself out-of-touch with your manager and coworkers, which may cause other employees to think you are aloof or uncooperative. If you fail to schedule at least some of your day, it will be impossible to meet deadlines. Taking the time over a couple of weeks to tweak your schedule until it is comfortable is time well invested if you can find balance between structure and flexibility at work.

  • Published 07/28/10

Comments (1)

  1. Steve

    Nice sentiment, but where is the How-To part?

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