Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Scheduling by Quadrant

Yesterday, I admitted that I haven't been able to successfully use a day planner for some time. Whether I'm at work or at home, I usually just go from one urgent task to the next until it's time to wind down for half an hour and then go to bed. This works for me, in general, but it's not ideal. If I hit one little road bump, my whole day can be lost. Worse (in my opinion at least), I feel like I never get any real rest - even though the whole point of me not using a planner is so I don't have to acknowledge the harsh truth that I have too much to do, allowing myself to take a little bit of time to do things that I find relaxing/enjoyable/fun, like writing for my blog.

So, I'm thinking about trying another approach. Instead of scheduling exact plans for the day, I'm going to do something that sounds un-fun and scientificky (yes, I just made up that should try saying it, it's fun): schedule by "quadrants". Jon just finished reading a well-known book by Stephen Covey, called The Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Person. The author divides priorities into four quadrants (as seen in the diagram up top): Urgent/Important, Urgent/Not important, Not urgent/Important, and Not urgent/Not important.

Here's a slightly different way of looking at it:
I plan to try scheduling a certain (and appropriate) amount of time each day and week for all four "quadrants". Within the blocked out time period for Quadrant 1, for example, I could start an experiment that I need to finish before my upcoming departmental seminar, order lab supplies I'm about to run out of, make some phone calls for the Spring Biotechnology Symposium, wash a load of laundry so we have something to wear, pick up milk at the get the idea. But I wouldn't be scheduling the exact use of the time, just the type of work I need to be doing in that block.

It seems like it could be extra work at first, but I've seen the vastly postive effect that deliberately and purposefully planning how to spend our money on paper can have, and I have to wonder if doing the same thing with my time would similarly decrease my stress levels and increase my productivity. It's worth a try, especially since I've recently taken a vow to abstain from mom-guilt.

Now I just need to figure out which quadrant "Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" falls into. I know where my daughter would put it....

On Friday, look for a sample schedule for next week!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a very smart idea! I could even go for planning of that kind.

    I guess I kinda do that kind of planning already since jumping in with both feet into the crafting thing. I really have to look ahead! Like, "by this day I need to have x amount done on Karen's baby shower gifts" or by May 5th I need to have x amount of Megan's birthday presents started. :)