How To Create a Timetable and Get Rid of Procrastination

Perhaps you’re familiar with the overused phrases, “I have plenty of time.” or “I can do it tomorrow.” As I’m chronos- challenged, I often believe I have that invisible superman power to be able to do all my to-do lists in one single sweep. Five humongous tasks in one hour? No problem.

Not really.

This has unfortunately lead me to rushing my personal tasks year after year. The ubiquitous last minute syndrome. Packing for China an hour before heading to the airport. Packing my belongings into boxes and move to a new apartment two days before rushing to catch my plane to Australia for a 2 month backpacking trip. Thinking I could get a job in another country two weeks before my contract runs out. No wonder I couldn’t accomplish my yearly goals for four years.

This year I decided to change that.

One trick I learned from my teaching field and organizing conferences is the use of a timetable. In one semester, there is so much material to teach that you want to organize and stay on track so you could comply with your syllabus objectives and learning outcomes. See sample below.

WEEK

TOPIC(S)

ACTIVITY

1

6/02

Introductions, Course outline; Formal v Informal

Written paragraph for homework

2

13/02

Paraphrase & Parts of the book

Library Visit?

3

20/02

Paraphrasing

Skimming & Annotating

Library Visit?

Likewise, in a conference you cannot afford to stay behind schedule with so many components (budget, accommodations, logistics, guest speakers, sponsors, etc) that a timetable calendar is a must to stay up to date and make sure you’re on top of your game. There is more at stake because you don’t want the event to fuck up- or you for the matter.

Now why can’t they do this for your personal development? We need a syllabus to our life (objectives- purpose) and a calendar with deadlines to make sure we’re on track. Like a conference, there is a lot at stake (our goals) and there will be a lot of changes along the way (flexible calendar needed) but in the end you can see where you’re at and soon will get to the finish line where champagne heaven awaits.  Below is a sample of my timetable with 80/20 prioritization.

WEEK

80%

20%

1

6/02

research Australia

2

13/02

publish 3 blog entries

Sleep at 11pm 5x a week

Notary- Macau & apply for new Phil. passport on Thursday?

Create checklist for OZ requirements

Learn Spanish commands and questions and basic expressions 

3

20/02

(slump week- downtime)

Contact schools for copies of Transcript of Records

Fill in OZ education assessment application

Return Process Essay

I found using a timetable to be more effective than using David Allen’s GTD 90 Day-Monthly -Weekly system. It takes me less time and more importantly, I can see how much time I have left before my deadline. Also, how each step contributes to the next one tells me how important it is to do them on that week. This helps me stop procrastinating.

Here are the steps to create a timetable

1st STEP: Break your yearly goals into projects. For example, one of my goals is to try to apply for a migration visa to Australia. The simple steps could be broken down to research, gathering paperwork and apply. More steps could be added as soon as you have gathered more information.

2nd STEP: Make sure to be realistic and create a plan B and its steps for your goals. A timetable helps me create back-up plans. Should migrating to Australia fail, I’ll try to apply to Canada and New Zealand. If that does not work either, then I’ll try volunteering or study exchange programs. I like to create a Plan C, D, E, F to my Plan B and sometimes none of those happen and something completely surprising will be thrown at you. But you should always keep in mind that whatever plan you take it should be in line with your purpose in life. Mine is to travel, experience and inspire and be inspired by life.

3rd STEP: Now that you have your steps and back-up plans in place, it’s time to fill in your calendar. You can use Google Calendar or create your own template in a word document. I aim for a 6 month plan which will leave plenty of flexibility for the other half of the year. Make sure to put deadlines to your goals and stick to them. Making the calendar at first would be a bit taxing but it would save you much time and stress in the end. It did for me.

With a timetable, you could also observe which weeks you’d be the most productive and schedule your most important tasks there. Likewise, you’d see which dates you’d likely be in a slump and pencil in some down time. Remember to carry your timetable with you wherever you go to be reminded of your tasks. Lastly, be flexible. There are many things that could happen in life but always make sure you keep the big picture in mind.

Happy Planning!

Photo from 2nd Green Revolution

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