His schedule was booked with appointments from 8-5.  It was printed in black and white on the table between us.

He told me, “I have no time.”

The fact of the matter was that he had lots of time:  the same 168 hours a week all of us have.  It was how the time was being spent that created problems.

“If you schedule appointments all day, when do you get the work done?” I asked. “When do you work on the projects these people are asking for you to accomplish?”

Therein lies the problem for most of us.  We privilege in our calendars the activities we most enjoy.  We undertake the aspect of our work that most enlivens us.

But what happens to the aspects of our work we dislike?

What do we do when we have something to accomplish that we don’t believe others will value?

In other words, does everything get on the calendar?

There is an antidote to over-scheduling.  I call it actual-scheduling.

In actual-scheduling, we calendar not only the people but also the tasks that go with them.

If you are over-scheduled and want to start actual-scheduling, here are three tips for getting ahead instead of falling behind:

1.      Assign your tasks a time.

Once the task arrives in your inbox, or the project has been assigned to you in the meeting, schedule that task or project a time.  Nothing is accomplished without an allotted time.

An amazing thing happens when you plan your tasks:  your mind stops worrying about when something is going to get done because we know.  We scheduled it.

2.      Honor your calendar.

Once you have assigned your tasks a time, treat these appointments the same way you would treat an appointment with a colleague or a client.  Accomplish what needs to be done in the time allotted.

3.      Get ahead of schedule.

If your schedule is booked solid with appointments, like my client’s was when we met, look for the white space in the calendar (it might not be until next month or next quarter, but find the white space!) and block out time to think, plan and catch up.  It took a while for your schedule to get as full as it is and it will take some time to realign your schedule so that your calendar accurately reflects the scope of work you have to accomplish.