You’re never going to be able to accomplish everything you want to accomplish, so analyzing your work within a specific box of time will force you to focus in your efforts on what can be realistically achieved in the assigned time-frame.
Let’s face it… for the vast majority of us, there’s practically nothing more motivating than a deadline. Parkinson’s Law states, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” You can use this law to your advantage by assigning yourself deadlines and using the ticking clock as a motivator to push through resistance.
HOWEVER, we also have to be mindful of another phenomenon called Planning Fallacy, “We tend to bite more than what we can chew!” Setting self-imposed deadlines in the first time is easy, but keeping up your schedule after a while, or a few unplanned events, is hard.
Avoid setting self-imposed deadlines too far in advance. Instead, follow a weekly review process where you:
- Review your master list of projects and tasks
- Cherry pick your highest priority items for the following week. Let’s call this the Focus List.
- Schedule the Focus List
So, go ahead and schedule a weekly task for an hour, maybe on Friday afternoons to review your projects and tasks, and set the focus for your next week. In this review session, you want to skim through all your projects and decide what needs to be archived/deleted, what needs to wait, and what needs to be your focus for next week. Don’t forget to go to your Focus view as well, and decide on the focus items from the current week that you didn’t get to complete. Do you want to carry them over to next week? Deschedule them? Or, delete them?
Once you’re ready to set your focus for next week, use the left pane to select the right projects. You can select multiple projects by using CTL+click. Then, you can start cherry picking the items for your next week’s focus as shown below:
Then, go to the Focus view, and set the plan as shown below:
You can add a project to your Focus List instead of adding individual tasks. This makes it easier to plan or re-plan the project. If needed, you can plan at the project level, AND add specific tasks within the project with different planning period.