71: Hyper-Scheduling

#1
#2

Great episode! However, I have to say that while I love and use the concept I’m not really a fan of the term “hyper-scheduling”. It has the wrong connotation and doesn’t really describe what we’re trying to accomplish. I really wish @macsparky would call it “time blocking” or “block scheduling”.

3 Likes
#3

Do you block off your mealtimes?

#4

Haven’t listened to this episode, but for years I’ve lived inside Google Calendar and I block off as many actionable events as I can. (Not meals, as I’m pretty flexible about that.)

I chose and stick with Todoist as my task manager despite its imperfection for listmaking/subtasks and its being decidedly less attractive than apps like Things/TickTick/Taskade, mainly because it has two-way sync with Google Calendar. Many task managers will sync over to put items in your calendar but won’t let you edit the task manager info from the calendar (unless it’s a separate in-app calendar, which I don’t want). With two-way sync I can view my calendar, move Todoist items on it, and the changes will sync back to Todoist.

One unique feature of Google Calendar is Google Goals, based on their purchase of Timeful in 2015. It’s been in Google Calendar since 2016, but not a lot of people know about it.

The feature lets you set clearly defined goals (e.g., “practice speaking French three times per week”) and then Google Calendar automatically schedules those goals based on when you have open slots in your calendar. When you’re setting a goal, you also have control over how much time you want to dedicate to each session. Just like with a meeting, you can have a goal session last 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, or however long you want. You can also specify what time of day – morning, afternoon, or evening – you’d prefer to work on your goals. If a new meeting pops up on your calendar in the spot where a goal session has been you can have Google Calendar automatically reschedule that goal session for you. And when you skip/defer a calendared goal the AI learns and tries to reschedule to better fit your schedule preferences as it learns them.

3 Likes
#5

I really enjoyed the importance of blocking off fun or meaningful things as opposed to just work things. I try to make sure on Monday I have at least three non-work “interact with people” things each week, whether that be coffee with a friend, DND, a networking event, etc.

So through David’s multiple mentions of playing sax and enjoying jazz, I went out and bought fresh reeds for my alto sax for the first time in eight-ish years. I played a few things from memory (speaking of, can we talk about how amazing it is that my hands remember how to play Think of Me from Phantom of the Opera after not doing so for a decade? Human brains are weird) and couldn’t help but think – why do I spent hours waiting for those two second dopamine hits from infinity pools like Reddit when this is something I enjoy but never do? It makes me think even harder about the concept of digital minimalism from the last episode. I think I’m going to try blocking off more “fun non-internet activities” on my calendar and see how I feel versus just getting home from work and scrolling through Reddit/Tumblr/etc.

1 Like
#6

I sometimes block off mealtimes, but not always. It depends on the intention behind it. I don’t need to block time so I remember to eat, but I block off dinner time with my family (when we have the opportunity to eat together - with 5 kids, feels like we’re always running somebody somewhere!)

4 Likes
#7

I have been using GTD for over 15 years now and this goes against the philosophy of that methodology. I’m not a purist and I’m willing to try anything, but I think it is unnecessary. Since I have a trusted system with all my commitments in front of me, I find it better to just work from my task lists. I mark a few things as important to make sure I spend most of my time on those tasks. The biggest issue I see is that you lay out your calendar in pretty granular detail for a week, but then on Tuesday some emergency priority pops up which you had no idea would be there on the weekend when you made your schedule. What do you do then? I see spending a lot of time moving around things on your calendar to make way for unforeseen tasks. I don’t think there has ever been a week in my professional career when something unforeseen hasn’t cropped up. How do hyper scheduling folks deal with this?

1 Like
#8

That makes sense. And a good cause. Over the years, regardless of how busy, I always tried to be home for dinner and to read to the kids before bed. That often meant going back to work until very late… but that was all 20-30 years ago and looking back I consider it one of the most important things I ever did.

#9

Unlike David, I only time block one day in advance, so if something comes up that needs to be done this week, but not today, I can just incorporate it when I time block a later day. If something comes up that needs to be done today, I’ll do it in lieu of one of the things I have scheduled. Sometimes I’ll cross the old item out and write the new one in (I do my time blocking on paper in a bullet journal) but often I won’t bother.

Speaking to a somewhat larger point, I see time blocking is a much more flexible system than what you’re describing. As I wrote in another thread:

For me, the key to making time blocking work is flexibility. I seldom have a day go precisely the way I planned it out. Stuff happens. Sometimes a task takes longer than anticipated. Sometimes something new pops up that needs to be done that day. Sometimes I find I can’t even get started on a task because I’m missing something critical.

When this happens, I just have to “roll with the punches” and adapt. I’ll push another task off until tomorrow, substitute a shorter task for a longer one, or drop something entirely. As @MacSparky put it, “A calendar is a soup rather than a puzzle.” Sometimes you have to stir the soup.

2 Likes
#10

I don’t consider myself a hyperscheduler and I can’t go granular because I never know when walk in customers come in. But I do choose one MIT (Most Important Task) in the morning and one in the afternoon. I block out a time in the morning and afternoon. I will move it if something in Life comes up. If I can just get those two MITs done, I’ll consider it a victory. It won’t be a small task but something that will require at least 45 minutes or longer. Then I fill in the rest the of the time with other small tasks like you do. I choose from my OmniFocus today perspective (due or Flagged) a task that fits my current context (location, tool, situation, mood). My day is already busy enough with daily activities that aren’t recorded in OmniFocus. Many times, I won’t bother recording hem in OmniFocus because it’s inconsequential.

I remembered one project grant where everybody had to record every 30 minute block what we did on a daily basis. I thought that was micromanagement at its worst without realizing that not every hour is productive. The upper management doesn’t realize that Life happens and we just go with the flow. Saying “no” to walk in customers just because I already have a time block in place isn’t in my best interests. But if I have someone to cover for me while I go into Do Not
Disturb mode is helpful but I can’t always find someone to do that because they also have their own Do Not Disturb times. I wish I could have “office hours” but my situation precludes that.

Hyperscheduling is great if I have a structured life and I work at home. But I can adapt some aspects of it since I work in a retail environment.

2 Likes
#11

Great episode. I think @MacSparky mentioned sharing his omnigraffle files for his daily planning forms. Does anyone have a link to these if they are available or should I jus be a little more patient :grinning:

#12

They can be found here:

#13

I spent many years working in an environment that tracked time by the 6 minute segments. It really wasn’t that hard, I just had a paper time sheet and when I started on a project I’d start and then when I switched I’d note the next start. We were all working on government contracts that required detailed time logging. It became easy and fast to do especially since our pay and bonus was based on time sold. I carried that over into my personal businesses but decided thatI could live with 15 minute blocks. I still do that even now when tracking how I spend my time in my calendar which functions as a diary.

1 Like
#14

@MacSparky - In the episode, you mentioned the Big Rocks idea was conceived by David Allen (GTD). In fact, it was Dr. Covey who discussed this in 7 Habits. Here’s a video of Dr. Covey speaking about scheduling Big Rocks.

1 Like
#15

Good episode. As I was listening, I couldn’t help but make notes of drafts I thought I’d share that y’all might find useful. Let me know if you’ve any questions.

This is how I plan my week.

Thoughts on scheduling (or “hyper scheduling”)

Thoughts on planning.

This is how I get work done.

How I use calendar.

I always include buffer time in my calendar events. For instance, if I am going to exercise for 45 minutes, I schedule an hour. Ditto for meals. I also block time for morning (2 hours) and evening routine (1 hour). I wrote about it here, https://dazne.net/routine/.

The calendars I use are: Creative Work, Consulting Work, Other, Fuel (for scheduling meals — I mostly eat at the same times every day), Renewal (for morning and evening routine, and exercise), Relationships (for spending time with friends/family), Play (for leisure/recreation), Travel, PRM (To Do calendar for calling contacts), and Events (such as keeping track of movie release dates).

I plan my week once on the weekend and then spend some time every evening reviewing for the following day (and moving things around if needed). I also plan for leisure time for the following week before putting any time blocks for work.

2 Likes
#16

See my draft on scheduling work in the link below. Let me know if that helps.