Well, the house has been empty and I’ve been knocking around here
by myself for the past week.
Our son is with my parents for a few weeks during summer vacation.
My better half had to leave suddenly to help out a family member.
Which leaves me and the pets – our two dogs and two cats.
They’ve been congregating near me, following me around so
closely, that I’ve tripped over them a few times – even the cats.
It’s almost like they are thinking, “Hey, did Karen knock off
everyone else? She’s the only one left who can feed us. We better
At first, the thought of some alone time was appealing. I could
spend more time on writing and on my businesses, and not have to
knock off work for family time in the evening. And it has been
great. I’ve been able to get to a few things that I just hadn’t
been able to get to before.
But I’ve also felt lonely. I miss my peeps.
My idyll will dissipate in a few days when the family members
begin to return. In fact, within a few days we’ll have a houseful
of kids. (But that’s another story…)
When I’m working, I tend to write out a to-do list for my day.
I’ve also started to “script” my day. This is a time
management practice advocated by Dan Kennedy, the well-known
small business and marketing guru.
I first heard this idea of scripting your day from Dan a few
years back. I don’t think I’ve heard much about it from anyone
else. Dan says that the to-do list is good, but it’s not
enough. It’s too easy to get distracted and have something –
or things – come up and throw you off course.
A key point of scripting is the fact that people rarely
set an end point for a task.
For example, if you’re going to write an article, or finish
reading a report, you probably have it on your to-do list,
and may even have an idea as to when you are going to start.
But many if not most people do not establish an end point,
by which they must finish the task.
And this can lead to the task’s taking longer to complete
than it should.
What’s that old saying? “Work expands to take up the time
you’re at work.”
Well, getting back to my experience this week:
At the beginning of the week, I didn’t script myself. I
figured I could work as long as I needed to, because I
wouldn’t have to break off when the family got home, to
hang out or help make dinner.
The day was like a wide expanse laid before me, with
no strict cut off time. Nice!
However, within a day or so, I found out that – goldarnit –
that old saying is correct!
Work DID expand to take up more time than it should have.
So….the last few days, I have been back to scripting my
day. While it feels more confining, less fun, and less
“spontaneous”… it also works better. It keeps me focused,
in gear, and I feel better because I get more done.
As an unreformed procrastinator, I’ve found it indispensable
to breaking through my tendencies to delay, or pick up
something else (usually easier) to work on.
I highly recommend scripting and scheduling yourself. Just
as you place an appointment into your calendar, try
adding specific tasks, or portions of tasks, into your
calendar for the day.
Be sure to give yourself some down time here and there,
to take a break, get some food, and renew yourself.
Then crack the whip and get back to work. Focus and
get it done in the time you have allotted.
Word of warning: we often underestimate how long it will
take us to complete a task or job, at least at first.
So give yourself a little slack. You’ll get better at it.
On the other hand, hold yourself accountable. If you’ve
scheduled this hour to work on something…work on it!
And nothing else.
If you’re busy and time starved – which most of us are
these days – you’ll appreciate the difference this can
make in your perception of time.
You’ll feel more in control. You’ll be getting things –
important things – done.
You Can Do It!
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P.S. By the way, I recently realized I’ve been using this
principal of scripting my time for years, in a specific
area of my life: working out. I’ve always tended to
schedule a specific amount of time to complete my
work out, and I’ve always planned what I’m going to do
in advance. So, here’s another application of this
principal that I highly recommend!
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013