Flexible schedules are awesome, but they’re also a big responsibility. If you don’t know how to use your time well, you’ll end up working more than you need to. That’s what I experienced when I was just starting out as an art reporter, but after I did my two-hour thinking schedules (here), I figured out an effective way to handle my days–time-framed to do lists.
More than two years ago, when I was a new art reporter, I didn’t know that I had the right to say no, so I kept saying yes to everything my boss asked me to do. I was also so insecure about the quality of my articles that I’d wake up at 1a.m. and write until 10a.m., producing only two articles. Then, I’d eat, take a bath, and go to press conferences and interviews. I’ll get home late at night, sometimes even midnight, and then, if the next day was a deadline day, I’d wake up again at 1a.m. I had several of these 16-hour (or more) work days for two years until I realized that this wasn’t a sustainable way to work. I was stressed out and my brain was fried. That is not a good state of mind when you’re doing interviews or writing articles.
So while I was thinking on the bus (find out more about that habit here), I realized that I was doing the scheduling thing all wrong. In the past, I would list the things I needed to do for the day, schedule them in, then count the hours total. If I go over eight hours, I try to edit my schedule, but more often than not I fail to do so. The routine of scheduling things in then editing them out was time consuming in itself.
Instead of doing that, I allotted eight hours per day, and then scheduled things in. If other things cannot fit into my eight hour schedule, I put it in for the next day. This also helped me learn how to prioritize things.
I’ve learned so many scheduling tricks and time management tips over the years and by reading books on these topics, and i will write about them all in future posts. Stay tuned!
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