1. THEY SCHEDULE USING THE THREE CS
Some people thrive in a structured environment with definite start and end times to the workday, while others prefer more flexibility to plan their work on their own terms, says leadership and productivity expert Kevin Kruse, author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management.
Think of your tasks in categories called the “three Cs,” he says: creative, collaborative, and connecting. Schedule your creative work—when you’re thinking, making decisions, writing, and planning—when you’re mentally strongest. For many, that’s early in the day, he says. Block out times for collaborative work, such as meetings, phone calls, and other work tasks where you need to interact with others. Then, plan your connect time, when you recharge with family and friends.
2. THEY DON’T KEEP A TO-DO LIST
Kruse says that to-do lists allow tasks to pile up and contribute to overscheduling. Instead, he advocates entering tasks directly into your calendar. That way, you’ve assigned a time block and a deadline to them immediately. Your to-do list is embedded into every minute of your day, he says.
3. THEY HAVE A REALISTIC GRIP ON THEIR TIME
Of course, before you can effectively schedule your tasks, you need to have a good understanding of how long it takes to do things. Freelance editor and writer Jennifer Lawler, author of Dojo Wisdom for Writers: 100 Simple Ways to Become a More Inspired, Successful, and Fearless Writer, suggests tracking your time over the course of two or three weeks to make sure you have a good understanding of how long things take. “Many freelancers underestimate the amount of time it takes them to do things, and then they’re surprised when they fall behind,” she says.