Scheduling your day is an important part of being productive. You can timebox your way to a jam-packed schedule, but there’s more to time management than that. You should consider dividing not only your day, but your week overall, to maximize productivity: The trick here is to theme your workdays.
Instead of jumping from task to task on any given day, try grouping all the similar ones together and park them on a specific day. By putting similar tasks together on the same day, you’ll stay in that “zone” longer, focusing only on what needs to be done in it. If all the things you have to do have something in common, you’ll stay focused on the central theme of the day’s work as you move from task to task.
How to divvy up themed days
Mike Vardy, a productivity expert, shared his idea of what productivity is all about with SaneBox: “Intention plus attention.” If you complete similar tasks over the course of one day, you are striving for an intention—meeting whatever goal you’ve set for that day’s theme—and staying focused on it from task to task.
Consider, for instance, getting all administrative-type work done on Mondays. Designate Mondays for responding to emails, sending out new emails, taking calls, or scheduling meetings. Creative activities, like brainstorming or designing, could be handled Tuesday, while Wednesday could be for research.
You could also theme your days by project, according to Leonard Alexandru, an engineering director at Deloitte who has written about the value of themed days. Instead of dedicating time every day to multiple projects, consider assigning each project its own specific day of the week for work, so a project that requires a big focus on management should take up a whole day while one that requires you to focus on marketing, communications, sales, or whatever else should be on another.
Alexandru recommends setting each day’s theme as an all-day event on whatever calendar software you use, so you’ll have a reminder at the top of the page about what to focus on each day. Just knowing your Thursdays are for client meetings, for instance, relieves you off the anxiety of having to decide what to prioritize that day or when to schedule those meetings. It eliminates decision fatigue and keeps you on-task without you having to think too hard about what activity should go in what slot during your busy week.
Your digital scheduler, like Google Calendar, is going to be helpful here for your timeboxing and daily-theme setting, but consider picking up a physical calendar, too, since writing things down can help you remember what you need to do even more. Try these:
- A desktop weekly planner has big enough boxes for each workday that you can write the theme visibly in each, but it only covers seven days, so if you need to overhaul the themes for the next week, just turn the page.
- A notebook planner with pages for individual days and full months can help you visualize the macro and micro levels of your projects and their timelines.
- A daily planner helps you visualize every single day down to the minute because each page is just one day. There’s even room to set your top priorities on this one, so stick your themes there.