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11 Apr

Scheduling to Lessen Stress in a Too-Busy World

We live in a stress-filled, too busy world, and scheduling is just one more thing to do.

If you’re anything like I am, you already have too many things to do and not enough time in which to do them. From getting everyone out the door in the morning to finding time to spend with God, you’re busier now than you’ve ever been. You’ve probably seen all the time management and scheduling tips and tricks you can find on Pinterest and even tried them for awhile, but somehow, you always end up behind again. That sound familiar?

Me, too! Well, take heart. I’m going to show you how to decide what to put on that to-do list, and then show you a way to get things done without losing your sanity. It’s a three-step process, and one which will make your day much less stressful.

The first thing you need is a list of all your to-dos.

A complete list. Write down absolutely everything you have to do or want to do, in one long list. Don’t prioritize or try to decide what to put on and what to leave off. Just list everything you can think of.

Now take a piece of paper and divide it into fourths (fold it in half one way and then in half the other way). Now we’re going to label the quadrants as follows: Q1: Important/Urgent; Q2 Important/Not Urgent; Q3 Not Important/Urgent; and Q4 Not Important/Not Urgent. You’re going to put each item on your list in one of those squares, but there’s a secret to doing it the right way. Let’s look at definitions. Important means there is a negative consequence for not doing it. Urgent means there’s a negative consequence for not doing it NOW. At first, you’ll find a lot of stuff listed in Q1, but over time, you’ll be working mostly from Q2 and sometimes from Q3, but rarely from Q4.

Deciding on where things go.

If you can’t decide where something goes in your scheduling, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will happen if I don’t do it at all?
  • What will happen if I don’t do it now?

Answering those two questions will help you see clearly where each item should go. Q1 is for things that absolutely must be done right away. You’re going to work at staying out of that quadrant! Q2 is for important matters that aren’t (yet) urgent. The trick will be to schedule time for those things so they don’t ever make it into Q1. This is the quadrant where you want most of your items to reside. Q3 is for things like buying something you’d like to have that’s on sale NOW, but won’t have a negative consequence if you don’t buy it. Q4 is for things you’d like to get around to, but it’s okay if they don’t actually get done. Nothing earth-shattering will happen if you just let them go.

The time-block method of scheduling.

After you have assigned all your to-do items to one of the quadrants, you’re going to use the time block method to tackle the list and see it shrink. Here’s how the time block system works.

Block out fifteen minutes on your calendar or in your planner to tackle one of the scheduling items in Q1. Work at it steadily for fifteen minutes and then quit. If you find it takes more time than that, you can always block in another fifteen minutes to get it done, but chances are fifteen minutes will take care of the worst of the problem. Create fifteen minute blocks of time and work through your list, giving most of your attention to Q1 tasks. BUT DON’T IGNORE Q2. For every two Q1 tasks you complete, do a Q2 task, too. If you ignore Q2, first thing you know you’ll have all those tasks in Q1, too!

Naturally, appointments eventually end up in Q1 and must be attended to when they are due. But put bills to pay in Q2 unless they are overdue, and then pay them before they absolutely have to move into Q1. The trick is to gradually get rid of Q1 tasks and then keep them at a minimum. Q2 tasks should take the majority of your time and attention.

I’ve prepared two printables, one Quadrant Page and one Daily Page. Use these to help you implement this system, and before you know it, you’ll have everything under control. Just click on the image to download.

What do you do to organize your time and tasks? Tell me in the comments.