What is Fixed-Schedule Productivity?
There are some people that define this as a complicated time management process. However, once you understand the basic concepts it is the easiest and most fulfilling way to manage your life.
Fixed-Schedule Productivity is the concept of limiting your working hours to the best number that works to make you and your family happy. Then you decide what are the important things that you want to accomplish with your life (in reality this should be a pretty short list). Then you eliminate everything that is not important and fit the important things into your limited calendar.
That is it. It sounds easy, doesn't it?
I didn't realize it, but I accidentally started doing this awhile back with my own life. My approach is to look at my calendar and work hard to fill it up as much as possible with repeating tasks. The tasks I am using are the ones that are the most important to my life: Exercising, marketing, flying, volunteer time, family time, sleeping hours, and content production time. Once I started doing this, I realized I had very little screwing around time on my calendar. Which is how your life should be designed if you have big dreams and aspirations.
Keep in mind that this does not mean I'm a workaholic hardass that never screws around. It means that I try to be sure and plan time to screw around. You can feel better about screwing around with your time when you know you have it allocated on your calendar. And the screwing around time is just as important as the highly productive time.
Now I want to show you how you can get started with Fixed-Schedule Productivity.
But before we get started:
You must agree to change your mindset
- You must believe that your time is valuable and that you should only be working on things of value.
- You must start living and breathing the schedule you make today.
- You must be willing to drop projects.
- You must be willing to retrain your friends, family and coworkers about your new life.
- You have to be willing to make yourself unavailable to the world most of the time. Emails, meetings and ringing cell phones are your new enemies.
- You have to start saying no more than you say yes. No to a lot of free coffees. No to 'pick your brain' time. No to projects which are not in your core interest. No. No. No.
Step-by-step to get started:
- Take time to think about what your dream day would look like. Where would you live? What time would you wake up? Who would you live with? What would you do every day when you woke up? What hobbies would you take up? How would you relax? How would you run your business? Do some pie in the sky stuff with your mind.
- Open your calendar.
- Mentally figure out the best part of the month, week, and day when you are the most productive.
- Mark off your ideal time to go to bed (for me it is 10pm) and the ideal time you will wake up (for me it is 5am). That is the amount of time where I can get the optimum rest as long as I adhere to those times.
- Highlight the times in the morning and the times in the evening when it is best for family time. It may not be every day, and that is OK. But you should have time allocated for your spouse and your children on a regular basis.
- Make a list of the non-work-related hobbies and skills that you would like to have. Allocate 2-3 hours every week on improving those skills. Example: I am a pilot and I need to work more on my navigation and instrument skills. I need to work on that a few hours each month.
- Add in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These may coincide with family time.
- The most important step: Decide when you will START and STOP being productive for your job or your business. This is the "fixed" part of "Fixed-Schedule Productivity". You MUST be willing to start at the start time that you select. And you must be willing to use the end time as a hard stop time. With some rare exceptions, no work for your brand or company should take place outside of these hours. If you are a computer addict like me, you must be willing to start culling your use of technology outside of these hours.
- Now you can start to put the other things in place. If you have an 8-5 job, then obviously you are occupied during those hours at a fixed location. Highlight that. You might also consider highlighting your travel time.
- Think about what your major responsibilities are to your organization. Identify those as roles. "Marketer, tech support, visionary, etc."
- Start to sketch out one-hour blocks of time when you can work on the most important thing for each role. Example: If you are a one-person business then you hold all roles. But with your marketer hat on, you need to have a few hours each week allocated to marketing. Highlight where those hours are going to be. All of us have multiple roles in our occupation. Now is the time to highlight each role and figure out how much time you are going to spend improving yourself in that role.
- At this point your calendar should be pretty full. When I go through this exercise then I have very little time left. When I do have time left, I'll allocate more time towards the more important roles. For me those are marketing and content production.
This is a basic system for using Fixed-Schedule productivity. As I mature, I've been slowly adopting it more and more into my life. If you were to meet me in person right now, I could show you my daily calendar and how this fits into it. I have very little time on my calendar for meetings and one-on-one time. I have large blocks of time allocated to certain tasks each week. Those blocks are immoveable. Unless it is a very extreme case, I don't take meetings or calls during those blocks of time.
I've decided what the most important things are in my life, and I've decided to fight for the time to complete them. you should too.
To read more great articles by more smart people about Fixed-Schedule Productivity:
- Click here to read what Ramit Sethi has to say about the topic.
- Click here to read what Cal Newport has to say about the topic.
I'll be writing more about this topic later. But now I need you to reread this blog post, open your calendar and get started. don't postpone this and think you'll get to it tomorrow. You won't. If you think you'll get to it later, then you are adopting the same mindset that you have most of the time. If that mindset is not working for you, then it is time to take a different approach.
Please share your results below in the comment section once you have completed the steps above.
I freakin’ love this post Patrick – Thank you for speaking so much sense! This is something I’ve been working on for about 6-8 weeks. Although I was on top of everything work wise, I was feeling so down because I wasn’t giving myself time or my family enough time. I lost a huge chunk of what it so important to me. It’s very easy to get caught up in a world that is 24/7/365 but you’re so right… it’s about changing your mindset, deciding what you want, saying no (which is ok) to stuff that isn’t important or valuable to you and being the most productive in the hours you do work. Balance. I love it and thank you as always for sharing such wonderful insights with us all. You’re a rockstar! 😉
You are welcome. You are too nice to me 🙂
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