7 tips for effectively managing your schedule

American philosopher and psychologist William James said, “Nothing is as fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, said, “Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”

I’ve never been a procrastinator. Usually, when I’m working on a project, I just want to get it finished and get on with other things. I’m not good at delaying things until a deadline looms. Lately, though, other people’s delays have been affecting my desire to “get it done,” and then, of course, there’s Murphy, who always gets involved with his law when things are going crazy. When procrastination, no matter where the delay comes from, is partnered with a busy schedule, things get even more complicated.

Some folks always seem to be running several steps behind schedule. Some of us go home at the end of the workday feeling as though we’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. Besides carrying home the guilt for not doing what we expected we should do, we feel like we can’t control our schedules. One would think that with all the technology and the “helpful” tools we have at our disposal today, we should be able to get all our daily tasks finished and have time to play cards, go fishing, see a movie, or whatever else interests us. Not so!

Now that it’s the middle of summer and things are less hectic, I’m looking for ways to cure the pains of “too much to do and not enough time.”

A life coach friend told me that one should plan each day in order to feel more in control. A daily “to-do” list, with the most important issues at the top, is helpful in creating the plan. If possible, leave some time in between tasks for the unexpected conflicts and last-minute rush things that creep into the day.

Here are a few useful tips for managing your schedule:

  1. Evaluate how time is spent.
  2. Prioritize everything. Use the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 Rule) the entire day.
  3. Get rid of the “as soon as I can get to it” attitude and commit to making daily quality time for priorities. I know a few really dedicated procrastinators and this may be very difficult for them.
  4. Put “edges” on projects. So many folks have too many irons in the fire at the same time.
  5. Learn to say no. No waffling … no “maybe” … just NO.
  6. Focus. Get into a productive state of mind.
  7. Be proactive. Planning, preparing, and doing/acting are the keys to less stress in the workday.



We all know that the best-laid plans can go astray, or backfire, in any kind of business or industry, according to Murphy’s Law. After talking to a couple of business friends about Murphy and his antics, we came up with a couple of corollaries:

  • Everything takes much longer than we plan for.
  • Things will go wrong with the things with which you want the fewest challenges or problems.

So according to my life coach friend, one should expect the best but have a plan B in case Murphy gets involved. My college marketing professor also used to promote the plan B theory, suggesting that having an alternative in the wings helps to prevent a project from being “sideswiped.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” An unknown author said, “When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.” All this just reminds me that “it’s time to get it done!”

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.