Scheduling Flexibility

How do you handle the curve balls that come at you each day?  I’ve found that if I schedule my day too closely I struggle to adapt to the things that come up unexpectedly.  At times it reminds me of a manager I once worked with who wanted his team to write down all things they didn’t know about a project.  It’s impossible to know what you don’t know.  So how to adapt and adjust?

For me I have to have time in my schedule that is not booked so that I can have flexibility.  Obviously some things cannot be moved, some meetings are fixed and not moveable, however if you have some time that is not booked you can allow a new item to be added in if it fits with your priorities. Here are my three favorite ways to build flexibility into my schedule:

  1. No appointments in first 30 minutes of the day.  This allows you to come in, review your day and make any adjustments that are required given new information.  It also allows you to prepare for the first thing on your schedule.
  2. No appointments in the last 30 minutes of the day.  Keeping the end of your day open allows you to make notes for what you will do the next day, clean up your desk and wrap up your day.
  3. Keep lunch time open.  By doing this you can add a lunch meeting with someone who wants to get together with you socially.  These social visits can be distracting during the day and having this time open allows you to channel it and keep it from interrupting your work flow.  It also, gives you a chance to have quiet time if needed to regroup and get a handle on things before the next round.

If you can keep some of your time open each day it will give you more flexibility and control over your time.  By having time at the beginning, end and middle of my day makes it possible for me to keep an eye on the big picture as well as the small tasks.  When I am booked from start to finish I end up stressed and I struggle to maintain any form of productivity.

What are your favorite ways to allow flexibility in your schedule?

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