Spring Clean Your Schedule: 4 Steps to Greater Productivity

Modern life is hectic. If you’re not careful, it can become a whirlwind of appointments, notifications, and deadlines. In this state of disorganization, it’s easy to push aside some of your basic needs. 

Working some of these basics back into your schedule is a good place to start, but it should be part of a broader picture of resetting your priorities. And there’s no time like the spring to get that done. 

Truly prioritizing allows you to tidy up your schedule, reorganize your days, and, ultimately, achieve more in life. It’s not complicated, but it does require a little effort.

Create a master list

We have different priorities. There are daily tasks that need attention, targets to hit for the week, and things that need to get accomplished within a month. 

The tricky part is that these competing demands rarely line up, and it’s all too easy to focus on what’s most urgent or right in front of you while ignoring the long-term items. To get a handle on these tasks, you need to get everything down in one place.

Step one is to make a master list — a document, app, or a good old piece of paper where all of your tasks are listed. 

This is in keeping with productivity consultant David Allen’s “Get Things Done” methodology, which emphasizes getting your to-dos out of your head in a systematized way that you can refer to later. This frees your mind of any distractions that might stop you from working efficiently. It also creates a foundation for step two. 

Separate your “shoulds” from your “musts”

As self-development author Brian Tracey says, “there’s never enough time to do everything, but there’s always enough time to do the most important thing.” 

With your master list neatly laid out, you can step back and review it in terms of what you should do as opposed to things you must do. What’s the difference? 

Well, shoulds are habits, behaviors, and ideas that come from other people. These pesky shoulds permeate your brain, and they come from social conditioning, the people you follow on Linkedin, the ads you saw last week, etc. 

On the other hand, musts are the habits, behaviors, and ideas that originate from a sense of what’s important to you. These things are deeply personal, and they have to get done to achieve big goals and to become the best version of yourself. 

The problem is that people often confuse shoulds with musts. Without intentionality, we tend to get overwhelmed by the former and put the latter off. For example, scheduling downtime to do things that make you happy is a must, but the nearly endless stream of shoulds can detract from that. 

When you say “yes” to things on your schedule, make sure they aren’t at the expense of the bigger, more important, long-term items. In doing so, you can reprioritize your schedule to revolve around what matters and reduce the amount of time spent on trivial tasks. 

Clean up your physical environment

Starting a fresh schedule this spring would be incomplete without cleaning up your physical surroundings. Clutter builds up over time, and taking care of the spaces you inhabit on a daily basis can do wonders for your productivity.

Be sure to clean up your office desk this spring. Get rid of the unnecessary documents and trinkets you’ve collected over the last year. Tidy up your home so you aren’t constantly trying to squeeze chores into your schedule.

Decluttering reduces anxiety and gives you a feeling of self-efficacy that can translate to your daily tasks. Do not neglect your physical environment when you are revamping your schedule. 

Build supportive habits & structures

If you’re going to spend the time and energy to clean up your schedule and to refocus on your musts, you need a plan to support these changes.

There are a variety of ways you can approach this. Here are a few:

  • Develop a proactive morning routine
  • Tackle the most difficult things first 
  • Control how your availability is displayed
  • Spend time each evening planning the next day 
  • Practice the art of saying “no” 
  • Keep your workspace clutter-free 
  • Remember the sunk cost fallacy 

Doing these things matter because you are only as good as your habit systems. In his book “Atomic Habits,” James Clear puts it this way: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” 

Everyone thinks they know what’s important to them, but many still get swamped by the minutiae of life. The response is simple: Stop and list it all out. Prioritize ruthlessly, declutter, and then build habits to support your desired schedule.

About Jon Bradshaw

President of http://FluentCode.io and appointment.com. Experienced Co-Founder with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. Strong business development professional skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Business Planning, Sales, Market Research, and Management.

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