Working to a Schedule: When to move on from a task and when to stick it out?

In this video I share my experience from the previous week of working to a fixed schedule. 

As most regular readers will know, I recently left my 9-5 job behind, and I now have to motivate myself to work each day. Over the last couple of weeks I've been setting up a daily schedule after my morning routine and trying my best to keep to it. 

Easier said than done!

I found there are clear Pro's and Con's to working on a set schedule, and I share them with you in this video. 

I also learnt that I handle Creative and Logical tasks in a different way within the daily structure.

Video Notes: (For the people that fancy a cheeky Blog post read behind the boss's back)

Working for yourself is awesome. Now that I'm living it, I wouldn't change it at all. That doesn't mean it's easy. The lack of leadership in my life is freeing and wonderful, but I'm now responsible for getting things done. 100% ME!

Lou works shifts so there are times when she's home with me until mid afternoon, the temptation to hang out with her is big. If it's a beautiful day outside, it's tough to deny yourself the glory of sun and nature, especially when no-one is watching over you. 

Since finishing my 9-5 job, I started to implement a schedule into my life to keep me on track and avoid getting sucked into such productivity nightmares. The system I use is basic, but it works for me. For those that are interested, I use Google Calendar, and simply block my time out on various tasks, including lunch and drink breaks. Toilet breaks happen when they happen!

One of my strengths is my ability to believe in myself and think that I can achieve anything. I've taken on numerous tasks in my life because I want to accomplish so much. Overall I'd say this is a good thing. The downside to this is I'm liable to take on more than I can handle. If there aren't time constraints that's fine, but if other people are involved or my quality is impacted, then that isn't great. 

Scheduling has helped me balance out my vast workload. I now put in set time to concentrate on the things I want to do in my life each day if I can:

Rather than dedicating entire days or half day chunks to certain tasks, I'm trialling a system where I work for something between 30 mins up to 2 hours on set tasks. 60 mins is regularly used. I might change this system in time, but I want to continue using it for now. 

I simply slot in specific tasks from the areas above and put them into my day. 

I've found some Pro's and Con's to using a set schedule, and I want to share them with you. 

The Good

The Bad

I found estimating a tasks length one of the harder things to do. I regularly underestimate the time required to complete tasks. I would then be left with the question of what to do next? (I know that in time this will improve)

Do I just move on from the task and stick to the schedule?

Or, do I see it out to completion and get the job done?

I tried both!

And yet again, I found pro's and con's to each. 

Real Example - Writing my Book

I set some time aside to consider the contents of the 'Money book' I'm creating. I got all excited thinking about what to cover - Changing your mindset, working to a Budget, frugal living, saving %, investing, Early Retirement. 

The truth is, there could be anything from 1-6 books there. Is that too much? What do I leave out?

I was struggling to decide what to cut out without compromising the quality of the content. I researched forums, facebook, amazon reviews and tried to get into the head of my audience. This process was taking me hours. The thing is, it was important for me to get over this hurdle so that I could start writing, and putting together the notes I had previously made earlier this year on the same topic. 

I tried moving on from the task, as the schedule suggested. This bugged me. I felt an underlying frustration that I couldn't complete this task (I understand this is a limiting belief and I ultimately have control). Moving onto a task that I deemed 'less important' didn't seem right, but I did it anyway. 

I then spent the following afternoon on giving the Book contents my undivided attention and ignoring the schedule until I got the result I wanted. This lead to 3 1/2 hours of creative mind wandering, and little progress. I could have spent another 3 hours and I think with the state I was in, I would have made little progress. 

I'm a logical thinking guy. I like subjects like maths and science that have right and wrong answers. My strength doesn't lie in English or the creative arts. 

For example, when watching countdown, I like the numbers round and despise the letters equivalent. I look at:

A     R     S     E    T     W     C     I     P

and I just see 'ARSE', 'SET', and 'TIP'. My mind almost gets overwhelmed with all the possibilities. I think the best I've ever done is a 6 letter word and you would have thought I had received an unexpected special dividend from Amlin. I was over the moon!

Can anyone beat 'Arse' by the way? Answers below in the comments!

My 2 approaches to tackling this creative thinking 'blank' brought me to some insightful learning points about myself:

Working on creative thinking or challenging tasks 

Working on logical or rudimentary tasks

The HMRC didn't send me a letter that they said they would, and it had been over a week. I designated 30 mins to calling them and asking them to resend it. I was on hold for 20 minutes (at 9.30am!), had to go through security questions and I was cut off by my phone battery. I decided that because the task was very important, I needed to see it through to the end. 90 minutes later I had finished the call, called my accountant, sent him some details and was satisfied that the job was done, despite it taking 90 minutes instead of 30. 

Taking the same approach in establishing my books contents (creative thinking) left me feeling deflated, it didn't help my productivity, and other tasks suffered. In future, I will give myself 30 mins to turn things around. If it's going well I'll continue for 30 mins, if it's not working for me at that particular time, I'll just move on. 

I'm not sure if anyone can glean any value from this self assessment, but at the very least you have a Countdown puzzle to solve. Just don't take more than 30 secs......

How do you set up your daily schedule? Do you find it a struggle? What are your coping strategies? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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