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Creating a Daily Schedule in the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic

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While we would all like it to be back to business as usual, the reality is that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed everything. With required quarantines, social distancing, and cancelled events and schools, it’s difficult to feel in control of our daily lives or the near future. Now faced with a lockdown that could go on for months, it may be even harder to maintain a sense of order to each day. You need to have a daily schedule in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

A New Way to Work, Learn, and Live

Remote workers most likely already are accustomed to keeping a regimented schedule while working from home. However, throw kids and a spouse into the mix, and that organized schedule may be anything but. Or, those workers who have not done remote shifts before may not know how to stay on top of their daily schedule and maintain productivity.

Schools and kids will have to adopt a new way to learn and study for the time-being. Also, companies and employees will have to find a way to keep productivity up, where possible, to maintain economic and financial stability. There are so many questions and concerns about what the near future holds that it is easy to hide under the covers or binge watch television until this crisis hopefully passes.

Stay Focused and Keep a Positive Perspective

During these uncertain times, it helps to stick to patterns that remind us of our normal lives. This can be comforting to us, as adults, as well as to our children.

These patterns give us something to focus on and a purpose regardless of how work and school may change in the coming weeks. Doing so may also help those around us adhere to similar schedules so life moves forward and work projects get wrapped up.

A Daily Schedule in the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Check our this daily schedule in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic as an approach the “new normal” of using our home as a place to work, learn, play, and live. Setting times to eat three nutritious meals, get rest, exercise, and be productive can also help keep our immune systems high to fight this virus and other health issues.

The schedule also emphasizes sticking to activities that keep us disciplined, such as getting dressed and making our beds, instead of giving up on these areas. It’s just like going to work except you are commuting from your bedroom to an office in your home.

The blocks of time also help us figure out how to work in new tasks that we might not have had to deal with because schools were covering those areas. Think of it as an excellent opportunity to enjoy more quality time with our kids and keep them on a similarly productive schedule.

Coronavirus Daily Schedule

New Opportunities

Most people may dread this new self-imposed quarantine and disruption to our lives, but we can also see it as an opportunity. With our hectic lives, we may have been missing out on a lot of time with our kids and each other. Our hobbies probably were long-forgotten and many other tasks around the house went undone. Now is the time to use those free times on the above schedule to reconnect with each other, pick up those hobbies, and catch up on much-needed activities and maintenance around the home.

Even though you are home and working differently, plan time to catch up with colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors virtually. We have so many technologies that allow us to continue meeting together online through video conferencing and tools like FaceTime and Skype. Be there to support each other and help them maintain the same sense of normalcy you are trying to keep in your own home. It’s a critical time to reach out to others around you to see if they need any help, a listening ear, or a kind word.

How Do You Make a Productive Calendar?

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Life without a calendar would be chaotic, right? Without it would be like driving to a new destination without directions. You would have absolutely no idea on how to get to Point A to B. As a result, you would get lost, frustrated, and arrive late. But, if you had directions, you would stay on the right course and reach your target promptly.

Like your trusty directions, though, your calendar is only effective if it’s accurate. And, the best way to ensure this is by making a productive calendar. That may sound like an ambitious goal. But, if you use the following tips, you’ll have a calendar that you’ll keep you organized and productive in all facets of your life.

You’ll do better with one.

When my friends parents their own business together. They had paper calendars scattered everywhere. There was the primary calendar, a large pad that sat on top of the desk (usually that yellow pad thing), as well as the wall calendar in the office, the car, and their home. After all these years, I’m shocked that they didn’t seem to have many scheduling conflicts. I wonder? I believe the mother was probably the one responsible for keeping it all organized.

Unless you have a schedule that never changes, which be rather dull, there’s no need to use more than one calendar. The reason is that you’re continually switching between calendars. Not only is that time-consuming and frustrating, but it can also lead to conflicts. For example, you may accept a dinner invite with a client on Wednesday night. But, you didn’t consult your personal calendar and didn’t realize you already committed to dinner with friends. Now you have to reschedule one of these events, and someone will be let down.

If you want your calendar to be productive, then only use one calendar that meets your needs. Ideally, it should be easily accessible, work across multiple devices, and can sync with the tools that you’re already using, like Calendar. You should also be able to share your calendar with others with relative ease.

Als, keep in mind that just because you’re using one calendar, customize it so that you can separate the numerous areas of your life. You could color-code different schedules, such as red for detail-oriented tasks and green for exercise. Or, you could make essential entries pop by using all caps or boldface. There’s even the ability to change the default meeting times and reminder notifications.

Live in your calendar.

“Living in my calendar” is a concept I saw in an article written by Jalah Bisharat. And I’m a fan.

“Essentially, ‘living in your calendar’ is a to-do list brought to life,” explains Bisharat. “It forces you to think not only about what needs to get accomplished, but how much time each effort is worth. And even how to sequence your day.”

Here’s what I like about this concept. It encourages you to put everything of importance into your calendar. You then block out specific chunks of time for each of these activities. For instance, you should check your inbox from 6:30 a.m. to 6:45 and then exercise for 30-minutes. Uninterrupted work could be from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. and so forth.

Overall, it’s straightforward and not reinventing the wheel. There also benefits like encouraging you to start and end each day thinking about your long-term goals and working around your energy levels. Moreover, it forces you to only focus on what’s most important. Using entries that are time-bond, will help you fight back against procrastination.

However, I should add that if you don’t want your calendar to become too cluttered, then you must know what to include and leave out.

Your calendar should only include the following:

  • Date-specific appointments or deadlines.
  • Tasks that you struggle with.
  • Learning something new, like reading.
  • Networking.
  • Breaks and downtime, even 15-minutes to do nothing.
  • Self-care activities like exercise or meditation.
  • Monthly themes that are attached to your goals. As an example, January’s theme could be “Jumpstart” where you would begin the year planning a marketing campaign or a new workout regiment.

As for what you should leave off your calendar? Here are the top suggestions:

  • Meetings that do not have an agenda or purpose.
  • Standing or back-to-back appointments.
  • Checklists and notes.
  • Reminders for minuscule tasks like brushing your teeth.
  • Other people’s priorities.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Excellent advice from the wise Ben Franklin. But, how does this apply in making your calendar more productive?

Firstly, be realistic about how much you can achieve in one day. There may seem like you have a hundred different things to do. But, there is no way that you’ll get to them all. Focus on your top priorities, usually between three to five items, and add only them to your calendar. It’s a simple way to ensure that you’re not putting off the things that must get done today to a later date.

Secondly, keep your calendar updated in real-time. If you just agreed to a lunch meeting, then add it to your calendar immediately. The same goes for any other important dates, like a doctor’s appointment or deadline for a project. If you wait to add these entries to your calendar, then there’s a possibility that something else will pop-up and battle for the same time slot.

Employ arrow-method.

Similar to the popular the “rocks, pebbles, and sand” metaphor for time management, here you would frontload your calendar with your most critical crucial tasks. The idea is that once you’ve knocked these out, you can use that momentum to be productive throughout the rest of the week.

Additionally, front-loading your workweek can reduce stress. As explained by Elizabeth Grace Saunders over on 99u, “Front-loading gives you the ability to stay on top of projects that take longer than expected without getting stressed or working into the wee hours of the night.”

“Since all of your must-do’s are taken care of at least a few days in advance, you can easily move would-like-to-do’s to the next day,” adds Grace Saunders. “Also, if a cool opportunity arises, you can make a spontaneous decision to take advantage of it because you don’t constantly have the pressure of racing to meet a deadline.”

What’s more, as the week progresses, energy begins to wane. It’s been found that Tuesdays are your most productive day, with Fridays being the least.

Anyway, back to the arrow method. Nicholas Sonnenberg writes for, that this his own calendar trick with “the goal is to make your weekly calendar look like an arrowhead–a lot of stuff, in the beginning, tapering out to a fine point at the end.”

“In order to accomplish this, I schedule the majority of my meetings at the beginning of the week, preferably on Monday or Tuesday,” adds Sonnenberg. “These are mostly meetings I have every week–executive meetings, weekly check-ins, financial updates, etc.”

By kicking off the week with “a pretty packed schedule” creates flexibility, psychological satisfaction, and makes planning easier.

Establish flexible boundaries.

There’s a balancing act here. On the one hand, you need to establish boundaries. That means if you’ve already blocked out a slot in your calendar, then you’re committed. If you reserve a specific timeframe for a meeting or deep work, then nothing else should be planned during that period.

On the flip side, your calendar should also be flexible. What if there is a family emergency that pulls you away from work? What if a colleague can’t meet with you at your preferred time because they got stuck in traffic? You need to have some leeway to address these unexpected circumstances.

That’s why flexible boundaries are ideal. It’s actually how the most productive people schedule-out their days. There will be items in your calendar that are set-in-stone. However, there will also be entries that can be moved to another slot. It’s your decision on what boundaries are rigid or soft. But, usually, non-negotiable items would be work commitments, pre-determined meetings, or anything in your personal life like doctor appointments.

I’d also say that the most natural way around this, on top of scheduling your most important tasks, would be to leave a few blank spaces in your calendar. For instance, there could be an hour slot in the afternoon where nothing has been added to your calendar. That time could be spent handling an emergency or shifting your schedule if you must. Some people, like Tim Ferriss, even prefer to leave an entire day open on their calendar.

Look back to look ahead.

Under-and-overestimating how long something tasks is a surefire way to make your calendar less productive. If you were to block out an hour for a specific task, and it took two, then your calendar for the rest of the day will be thrown off.

Go back and review past calendars to see how much time you dedicated to recurring tasks and appointments. You can then use this information to map out your calendar going forward. If that’s not effective, then track your time for a couple of weeks. You can either use a time log or a tracking tool like Toggl or RescueTime to get a more accurate picture.

Schedule regular check-ins.

Finally, review your calendar frequently. I do this on Friday afternoons to make sure that nothing has changed. Then don’t miss the Sunday night check-up. After all, as time goes on, your priorities will change. You’ll want to make sure that your account for this. If not, your calendar isn’t going to be much of an assistant for you.

Don’t Fall Into the Urgency Trap: How to Prioritize Your Work

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I recently went hiking in a state park. Besides spending some time outdoors, which helped me clear my head and burn some calories, I saw a sign posted outside the interpretive center. It simply read, “Today is the best day.” I’ve since taken this to be my daily mantra.

I think we all have the intention to make today the best day. Whether if it’s taking the time to do the things you enjoy or just sending good vides back out to the rest of the world. And, it also means being productive at work as opposed to just busy.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. When you have so many responsibilities and such a short amount of time to complete them, everything seems essential. That’s why learning how to prioritize your work is a skill everyone needs to learn. It ensures that you spend the right energy and focus on the right activities at the appropriate time.

The problem is, you often fall into the urgency trap. Instead of tackling something that is helping you move closer to your goals, you end up wasting time on things that seem important. While these are tasks that need to be addressed, they don’t need to be done ASAP. Some of them may not deserve your attention at all.

With that said, if you want to be more productive, get the most out of your time, and prevent problems like missed deadlines, then you must perfect prioritization. And, here are some of the ways that you can accomplish that challenge.

Create a master list and analyze it.

The first step in prioritizing your work is to collect a list of all your tasks. It doesn’t matter if you jot these down in a notepad, Word Doc, or to-do-list app. The idea is to have everything that needs to get done in one location that can be easily accessed.

The second step is to review these tasks and whittle them down to the essential. That may seem like a lot of work upfront. But, this helps you rate your functions so that you spend time on what matters. Even better, it allows you also to eliminate certain tasks altogether.

Delete, Delegate, Defer, or Do?

Personally, I find that the 4Ds of time management to be most useful here. It’s a simple technique where you have four options to narrow down your list:

  • Delete. Sometimes this is referred to as “drop.” But the idea is the same. Any time commitments that are no longer necessary or aren’t crucial to the big picture should be scrapped. A perfect example of this is the lengthy and unproductive meetings you have in your schedule.
  • Delegate. These are the activities that need to be done. But, just not by you. Instead, they should be assigned to someone else. For instance, I’m familiar with the necessary coding. However, I’m not an expert. If my website or app crashed, it’s just worth the money hiring a pro who can fix the problem faster than I ever could.
  • Defer. These are essential tasks that can be delayed until another time. Let’s say that you an important meeting at the end of the month. You need to create and send an agenda. But, considering that the event three weeks away, that’s something you don’t need to do today.
  • Do. Here is where you, in the words of Nike, “just do it.” It could be a task that only takes two-minutes to wrap-up. Or, it’s one that needs your attention sooner than later, like anything with a due date.

Will this solve all of your prioritization issues? Not necessarily. But, it can remove at least some of your work off your plate. And, now that you have a much leaner list, you can begin to start successfully prioritizing your work.

Adopt a prioritization method.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all prioritization method. It depends on your own personal style. But, here are seven techniques that you could try out until you find the one that works best for you.

Eat the frog first.

InThe 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss wrote, “Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.” Often times, these are the most difficult tasks that you aren’t looking forward to. And, as a result, we procrastinate on them. The funny thing is that they also happen to be your most important.

Instead of putting these obligations on the back burner, take the advice of Mark Twain and eat the frog first thing in the morning. “And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Now that the worst is behind you, the rest of the day will seem easy in comparison.

Also, since we usually have the most energy several hours after waking uP, it just makes more sense. Why try to force yourself to do something you dread when you’re exhausted at the end of the day.

Focus on your MITs.

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to prioritize your work is to focus only on the most critical tasks that you would like to accomplish for the day. You can jot these down during your evening routine or first thing in the morning. Just note that your MITs should only be between one to three items.

“And here’s the key to the MITs for me: at least one of the MITs should be related to one of my goals,” suggests Leo Babuta. “While the other two can be work stuff (and usually are), one must be a goal next-action. Goal centered ensures that I am doing something to move my goals forward that day.”

And, just like eating that frog, it’s best to do your MITs in the morning. “If you put them off to later, you will get busy and run out of time to do them,” adds Babuta. “Get them out of the way, and the rest of the day is gravy!”

Separate the urgent from the important using the Eisenhower Matrix.

Inspired by former U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent,” this is where you place all of your tasks into a four-quadrant box. You then organize them by:

  • Urgent and important: These are the things that need to be done right now.
  • Important, but not urgent. Decide when it’s best to do these and schedule them.
  • Urgent, but not important. These can be handed off to someone else.
  • Neither urgent or important. Drop these from your to-do-list and calendar.

Prioritize daily tasks with the Ivy Lee Method.

Developed in 1918 by productivity consultant Ivy Lee, this is a simple trick to help you prioritize your daily work.

  • At the end of each day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  • Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  • When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  • Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. Move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  • Repeat this process every working day.

As I explained in a previous Entrepreneur article, “The Ivy Lee Method is so effective because by planning your day the night before, you reduce decision fatigue and reserve your energy for your most meaningful work.” What’s more, “you know exactly what you’ll be working on all day instead of wasting valuable time and energy making decisions in the morning.”

Assign a value to your work with the ABCDE Method.

If you need a hack for knowing the true importance of a task, I recommend Bryan Tracy’s ABCDE method.

“You start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day,” explains Tracy. “Think on paper. Once you have a list of all of the tasks you must complete, start the ABCDE method.”

  • “A” is assigned to your most important tasks.
  • “B” are items that need to be done but only have mild consequences.
  • “C” are tasks that would be nice to get to. But, if you don’t, there are no repercussions.
  • “D” is anything that can be delegated.
  • “E” is for eliminating.

For every letter, also assign a number to it so that you know where to start. For example, an A-1 task would be “your biggest, ugliest frog.” It just adds multiple layers of prioritization to your work.

Follow the Pareto Principle.

Also known as the 80/20 rule, this was developed by the Italian economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto. As Choncé Maddox explains for Calendar, this rule “clearly states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.”

How does this help you prioritize your work? Well, according to toChoncé, “If you’ve found that 20% of your effort is resulting in 80% of your results, you’ll want to prioritize and improve that 20% margin.” Knowing that you should take “care of it first when you begin your workday.” Need a place to start? You could ask questions like, “Are there any tasks that would make you feel relieved by accomplishing them, no matter what else happened during the day?”

Also, don’t get hung up on the exact numbers here. The point is that you should spend most of your time on the handful of activities that deliver the most results.


Chunking is fairly straightforward. It’s where you block out specific times in your calendar for undisturbed work. Ideally, these would be your most important tasks for the day that have been scheduled around when you’re most productive. As an example, if your peak productive hours are from 9 AM to 11 AM, then that would box out that time for devouring your frog.

During this timeframe, this would be the only thing that you’re focused on. To aid you in this pursuit, you would turn off smartphone notifications and close your office to eliminate distractions. And, most importantly, don’t forget to take frequent breaks, like around every hour. It’s the best way to stay fresh throughout the day.

Final words of advice.

When you prioritize your work, you’ll be confident that each day will be the best one ever. But, even if you’ve learned to no longer fall into that urgency trap, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Be flexible. Fires will have to put out. Your priorities will change over time. And, no matter how organized you are, the unexpected will always rear its ugly head. Work on becoming more adaptable so that you can roll with the punches.
  • Break large tasks into smaller pieces. It can be overwhelming when jumping into larger tasks and projects. Breaking them down into more manageable sections can help you get started. It also lets you focus on what needs your attention right now.
  • Be realistic. In a perfect world, you would be able to knock out your entire to-do-list in one day. Realistically, you’ll probably only be able to get to a handful of them. Understand how much you can actually get done in one day and move the less critical items to another date.
  • Manage distractions and interruptions. No matter how hard you try, these are inevitable. Sure. Turning off your notifications is a start. But, what about addressing an unforeseen emergency? Add some blank spaces in your calendar so that you have time in your day to handle this.
  • Ask for help. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask others for help. Whether if that’s delegating some of your work or asking for feedback on what’s most important.
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