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Tight planning or joyful priotizing for 2010?

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Do you plan your time carefully?

When I was a young psychologist, I advised people to schedule their time. My boss, an organized goal-oriented man, disagreed. He said that as long as you are doing something important, then it doesn’t matter what you do.

Before we went to meetings with clients, he would go through the our goal and sub-goals, which he would put in a meeting planner. Clients were well aware that he had a check list because they could see him looking at it and ticking things off.

He also ran the office with tight deadlines. He would phone in that he was coming to pick up his overnight work and he expected someone to be at street level to hand it to him through the car window.

His work was returned in the morning and with a ‘rinse and repeat’ the next night, all our work was turned around in three days.

But he didn’t do schedules.

What is the alternative to schedules?

I read a long post today from someone who scheduled his time for a whole year – very precisely.

I think working out how much time we have available is helpful so that we can work backwards to sensible work practices.

  • We can find a daily, weekly, and monthly rhythm that is enjoyable and effective.
  • We can discover what is important

Yes, we have a year, a month, a week, a day or an hour to spend. What will we do with it? We have a year, a month, a week, a day or an hour to spend. What would be the most enjoyable and satisfying thing to have accomplished in the next hour?

We need a system to make to find our priorities

Long “todo” lists and massive schedules are oppressive. I find people who have “calendars” simply fill them up and then claim they are very busy.

I don’t want to be busy. It only makes me impatient with others.

My 2010 priorities

I simply ask whether what I am going to do in the next hour enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful?

I simply ask how my day will be enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful.

Right now, I am asking why this week (or weekend) will be enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful

How will the remainder of this month be cherished and celebrated?

As I take my blank calendar for 2010, where are the moments in 2010 that will be enjoyable, satisfying and deeply meaningful!

And I will leave time, plenty of time, for events to surprise me and make the year better than I could ever dream.

In the words of poet, David Whyte:

“What you can plan is too small for you to live. What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep?”



  1. Lisa Lisa

    I like thinking in terms of “what will be enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful?”

    I’ve started writing down my life, monthly, weekly, and daily schedule everyday to manage my time better and align my goals.

    Asking myself this will help me know what I really do want better.

    • Jo Jordan Jo Jordan

      Will you let me know how it goes? I reminded myself in the shower that I love my shower! It’s always a brilliant start to the day!

      I don’t have to use every minute vigorously. I only need to arrange me life around what I love.

  2. Hi, Jo, interesting article. We operations researchers are supposed to know about scheduling, but while I can write cool models to schedule a factory, I admit to struggling with my own time management!

    I do believe in focusing on the important work. Problem is, I have a lot that I think is important! The deadlines and availability of each task ebb and flow, and seem to need careful management. For example, I need to remind myself to follow up an article on submission to a journal. I need to postpone some important work until someone else completes their portion. So issues of task switching versus ability to focus on one thing become serious.

    Eventually, I wrote my own little spreadsheet to keep me on track. It’s on my University site,, see TaskScheduler.xls towards the bottom. This spreadsheet forces me to estimate how much time each task will take, and to give it a “value”. After working through deadlines and time availability, it essentially schedules tasks in order of value/workhour first.

    I’ve used it for a few years now, and credit it partially with getting me out of some doldrums.

    Wishing you the very best Christmas, and a lovely lovely New Year!

    • Jo Jordan Jo Jordan

      Hi Fritz, always go with the MSCI guys. Usually have heaps of common sense!

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