Practice Management

Creating a schedule can make you more productive

By Fiona Collie |

When you become disorganized and work begins piling up, the stress can feel like a weight on your shoulders, says Chantal Binet, president of Chantal Binet Management Coaching in Cantley, Quebec. That burdened feeling can hamper your ability to reach your goals.

People generally take pride in accomplishing tasks, she says, so failure to do so not only affects both your productivity and your self-esteem.

Follow these tips to gain control of your workday and make the most of your time:

> Make time to plan
Get organized by taking some time to sort out your week.

Schedule 30 minutes to an hour in your agenda to plan the week, says Binet. Even better: organize the next two weeks.



> Identify all required tasks
Focusing on the details will help you accomplish your goals.

Write out all the tasks you need to do for each project, Binet says.

For example, if you want to send out your monthly newsletter, she says, plan out which articles have to be written, who will design it and how it will be sent out.

> Create an efficient schedule
Stay on time and on task by segmenting your day.

In your agenda, block off two-hour segments for tasks, says Binet. Schedule similar jobs together so your brain can easily move from one item to the next.

For example, your first two-hour block of the day could be dedicated to answering email and returning telephone calls. You might devote the second block to writing a financial plan and an article for your newsletter.

> Limit interruptions
Keep to your schedule by minimizing disruptions during the day.

Ask team members to send emails or to speak with you when they have five or six questions to deal with, says Binet. This way, you can deal with a number of issues at once instead of being interrupted every 20 minutes.

Other ways to avoid distractions include having your phone calls routed directly to voicemail, and shutting down your email program when you're working on a task.

> Be realistic
Nothing will get done if you get too ambitious with your plans.

You need to understand how you work and how much you can accomplish in a day, says Binet. Keep a time diary for a week to record how long it takes to complete certain tasks.

> Plan for surprises
Leave some wiggle room in your schedule.

Put a little space between tasks and meetings in your weekly agenda, says Binet. That way you can deal with any unexpected issues that come up. If nothing out of the ordinary happens than you've simply given yourself a little free time.

IE