How to take Control of your Crazy Schedule

Take control of your crazy schedule









Feel like your schedule is out of control?

Not enough time to get everything done?

Take a couple of hours and walk through this exercise.

It will restore sanity to your life.

1. Make a list of the top 8 priorities in your work

The question that you are answering as you do this – What can I and only I do?  Not ten… Only 8. Struggling to figure this out? Read this post on 3 Things You Should Stop Doing ASAP.

2. Determine how many hours you need to devote weekly to each of your top 8 priorities

As you do this consider what a perfect week would look like. (At work, not in Hawaii on the beach) How much time should you be devoting to each of your top 8 priorities weekly?  If one of your top 8 is a monthly task then divide the amount of hours by 4 for your weekly allotment.

3. Write down everything else that you are currently doing

What other things take your time?  What else are you responsible for?

4. Brainstorm strategies to eliminate or reduce everything other than your top 8 priorities

Questions to ask regarding your everything else list: Does it really have to be done?  What are the consequences if it is not done? Can someone else do it 80% as well as I can?  Read this post for more ideas on how to offload some of these things.

5. Create an ideal week

Now that you have identified your top 8 priorities and know how many hours you would like to devote to each one, create an ideal week with time blocking.  With time blocking, you are devoting a block of time to a work priority so that you are able to focus for an extended amount of time and make significant progress. If you have an unexpected interruption during that time-block than you will likely still have time left to devote to your priority.

My recommendation is to view each work day in terms of two 4-hour time blocks with a lunch in between.  You can still do early morning breakfast meetings, lunches etc. around these. Ideally, you will not work more than two time blocks in a row.  If you are going to work in a given evening, consider not working in the morning or taking the afternoon off. Another good practice is to completely take off three time blocks in a row in a given week.  (i.e. A day off where you do not work)

See the example below for what this looks like.  You can mark different priorities with different colors for clarification.  Click the following link for a template.  Ideal Week Worksheet

As you walk through your ideal week, you are answering the following three questions:

  • How many hours a week will I work?
  • When will I work those hours?
  • What will I do when I work?

Ideal Week

6. Print your ideal week and have it visible in your workspace

You want this document where you can see it at any given point of the day.  If it is in a file in your computer it will not motivate you to make the right decisions.  Print it and keep it where you can see it. You might not ever hit it exactly in a given week but it will keep you on task and help you to make wise decisions about your most important priorities.

7. Redo this activity annually.

Priorities change so do revisit this process as needed.

What else have you learned in this area? Feel free to comment.

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Posted by Brian Howard

My focus is to help YOU move forward one step at a time. I write about church excellence, personal productivity, and family leadership. I coach leaders, start churches, and help organizations break growth barriers. My goal is to draw on this experience to help YOU move forward in life, leadership, and productivity.

  1. Attach an Excel template and you would be my hero!


    1. Holy Cow! You are already my hero, Scott. Trying to figure out how to do that now!


  2. What do the colors stand for? May be in the article but don’t see it.



    1. Michael, I use colors to denote different priorities.


      1. Priorities like meetings, project work, etc.? I’m trying to use it for pastoral ministry and the different priorities I have. It helps me when I have a list because there is always something that I didn’t think of or something said a different way that turns the light bulb on in my own thinking. I like the term “priorities”. That does help. Thanks again.


        1. Top 8 priorities as outlined in the first couple of steps.


          1. Okay. Thanks.

  3. 8 priorities and 4 hour blocks makes great sense as I look at it. Would it make sense to have 2-3/ 2 hour sessions and use them as needed during the week for the unexpected things that come up but may not be urgent?? Some of my tasks are 2 hour sessions…


    1. Mike, nothing wrong with putting 2 projects in a four hour slot.


  4. […] A lot of people are vying for your time. If you aren’t careful, your schedule might end up being completely controlled by other people. In light of this reality, I seldom schedule meetings for the current week that I am in. Instead, I always set my schedule on Friday for the following week. By doing this, I can plan focused time for projects in the morning, and meetings in the afternoons. Instead of allowing others to control my morning schedule, I am always working one week ahead. For more about this, check out my post “How to take Control of your Crazy Schedule.” […]


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  7. […] Many well-meaning people would love to schedule your life around their availability. If you are not careful, you may end up with a schedule completely planned by other people. Planning and scheduling meetings proactively rather than waiting for your schedule to come to you will keep you from unnecessary meetings. I am not suggesting that you be militant about this, but by simply being proactive with your planning, you will free up time. Think through who you need to spend time with. Think through your priorities. Make it happen. I wrote about this extensively in How to take control of your crazy schedule.  […]


  8. […] Also Read: How to Take Control of Your Crazy Schedule […]


  9. […] In a previous post, I teach a process that will help you take back control of your schedule by identifying your top priorities and putting a plan in place to carry them out. Work as hard as possible to focus all of your time on your top 6-8 priorities, and have your assistant do everything else. […]


  10. […] Also Read: How to Take Control of Your Crazy Schedule […]


  11. […] on what you are uniquely called and gifted to do? One tool that will help you do this is the Ideal Week Exercise. Check it […]


  12. […] what is most important. This is something that Brian Howard helped me with. Determine the top 8 things for your job and then determine how long those tasks […]


  13. […] Make sure you know what you’re called to do. Pastors often spend too much time doing things they are good at while ignoring how they’re gifted and called by God! As Brian Howard says: […]


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