Hyperscheduling - Resources and Info

Dear all,

ever since @MacSparky has started to talk and write about “Hyperscheduling”, I was very interested to learn more about this method. Coincidentally, I myself had started to block time in my calendar for important tasks when David mentioned it.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a new book by Laura Vanderkam that seems to touch upon this topic (I have just started reading it): “Off the clock”

I was wondering which resources you, dear Free Agents and MPU listeners, can point me to (other than David’s excellent blog articles on this topic), and, of course, what’s your take on this method ?

Also, I sense that, while there are plenty of task management and calendaring applications, there still is no real “hyperscheduling app” that, e.g., would let you distribute tasks (say from a list of task paper actions) in dedicated spaces of your calendar and re-distributes them when you have to re-schedule. That would be a very interesting app, to my mind.

I am courious what you think -

Cheers,

Sebastian

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There’s a tendency to overcomplicate things - spending time reading about hyperscheduling, and spending time making and using an app - instead of just doing the tasks.

I’m bad at this - and whenever I find myself doing it I call myself the :robot: ‘Pro-crast-in-ator’ and do a little robot dance. Focus on the tasks - not on the task of scheduling tasks.

Listen to Merlin Mann who stopped doing 43 folders, I think because he knew he was feeding the beast.

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I call this “prep-crastination” :sweat_smile:It’s deferring actually doing the task by reading about tools and processes that might make the task somewhat simpler.

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The issue is not simple. There are tools that manage to improve how we can arrange our work. But certainly, we can get lost in it, too.

The main task is in acknowledging and hopefully addressing the anxiety behind the work itself. That means putting it in front of ourselves and keeping other things away.

Beyond that, I have a GTD-adapted rule for myself - in the phase of opening a session of work, if something that might help me takes two minutes or less to do, I’ll do it. Otherwise, it goes in the Inbox for later processing.

In this way, studying hypersheduling, for example, would be its own project, rather than something I would get derailed with. I would consciously consider whether it or something else were worth doing with my limited time.

That said, I don’t tend to hyperschedlue much as most of my work days are already scheduled with clients and I prefer working from a simple list for my other tasks.

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I remove the “hyper” portion and just schedule 2 deep work blocks of time during the weekday. The rest of the day I can freestyle without being so locked in and incurring more task debt.

The Productivity Show’s latest podcast is on timeblocking, which I believe is rather similar to hyperscheduling.

I do schedule every minute even though I rarely stick to the plan! I use the iOS app Atracker to (manually*) time track every minute as well, and that gets fed into the calendar too, and sometimes I do a reality v/s plan comparison, and although not direct, I think this helps me make more realistic estimates and plans in the next iteration/weekly review.

In terms of apps designed for this kind of thinking, you might be interested in Notion (e.g, see this workflow), Agenda or Noteplan. I use Things and Fantastical separately but am slowly starting to do more big-picture planning in Notion.

*If I slip up on the manual time tracking I use Timings (the Mac app) for sanity checks and retroactive logging.

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I call it “productivitiating.” The common phrase is “productivity pr0n.”

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Yes, I suffer from this too! Setting up is more fun than actually doing the work at times :slight_smile:

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Thank you for these app suggestions, much appreciated!

I think Merlin was in the unique situation to switch carreers. And I think he quit 43f over his book project, which he then quit for podcasting - thank god, I love his podcasts and am a Back to Work listener of the first hour.

I dare to disagree. Bringing the (numerous) tasks back to the calendar is a method of simplifying, not overcomplicating. It has a grounding effect. You simply cannot make “nerdy plans” with productivity software and set up endless to-do lists if you sit down and have to make room for all of this in your calendar. Try it, it can be liberating.

For me, it is also a question of professionalism: With dozens of cases going on at any given moment, I would go completely crazy and have problems estimating the time needed if I would not thoroughly think through the time budget of every case currently deserving my attention. Hyper scheduling helps with that. It’s really not about overcomplicating, but about responsible resource allocation.

But of course, that’s just my story, your milage may vary… :slight_smile:

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So, a few days into my hyperscheduling experiment, there still are a few glitches that make things a little less comfortable than I want them to be. The main issue is the “disconnect” of my main task (= GTD next action) list and the calendar that makes scheduling tasks a little bit more tedious than I hope them to be. What I, therefore, do, is using the Sunday as “parking space” for all my main tasks (all of them 15 minute blocks, and I am fully aware that this does not mean I am going to work on them on Sunday). Then I can drag them to appropriate places in my actual schedule where I want to work on them.

This is just an experiment, and I am not really satisfied with them. It may simply be better to come up with an intelligent way of displaying your actions and calendar side by side…

@Sebastian I am a big fan of “time blocking” (same as hyper-scheduling) and put together a detailed blog post/video on my own method.

I feel there are a few benefits to time blocking:

  • It forces you to think about the time required for your work – When you schedule time for these tasks and put them on your calendar, you’re forced to make a guess as to how long those tasks will take to complete.
  • It helps you to convert intention into action – Most people use their calendars for important, time-sensitive events like meetings or phone calls. These are usually situations where you’ve made a commitment to someone else to turn up at a specific time and give them your attention. When you time block, you’re applying the same commitment to yourself.
  • It helps to prevent procrastination – When you make this commitment to yourself, it helps to prevent procrastination.
  • It creates a record of how you spent your time – After you’ve done your work, it’s useful to be able to look back over your week and see how you spent your time.

I know some people feel that time blocking is too rigid. I adjust my calendar and appointments constantly as urgent work comes up and I need to slot things in.

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Yes I disagree with the use of the adjective Hyper
Hyper - is used to form adjectives that describe someone as having a lot or too much of a particular quality.

I do not think it pertains to scheduling activity.

This is pure and simple “Time Blocking” or using the Pomodoro Technique and IMHO a great technique to get back into “Deep Work”

Many including myself create these task lists that are impossible to finish in the estimated time akin to packing 10 lbs. of crap in a 5 lb. bag

These focus blocks can be either time or task related. I will write 500 words/day or I will write for one hour per day and when you start to allocate your time with your tasks you end up with a lot more task at the end of the day than time so it forces you to be realistic and prioritize.