What Gets Scheduled Gets Done

You’ve heard the saying, “What gets measured gets done.” In the corporate world, this might be a reliable axiom, but with solopeneurs – people running their own show – it doesn’t hold up. I’ve found what gets scheduled gets done. I’ll show you how to schedule the important things and control the ‘urgent’ things that waste your time. 

I have a number of activities I measure that still don’t get done. Why not? Here are my big three reasons:

  1. The daily grind of keeping the “machine” running. I’m full already. There is little room for new things.
  2. Too many competing time demands. Everything is screaming for my attention. The urgent wins out over the important.
  3. Lack of personal discipline. When I do have time, I’m tired, distracted, or too lazy to do it. “Later,” is a much better alternative.

I’ve tried check lists to motivate me because I love checking things off a list.

Check lists are good for identifying ‘What’ needs to be done. Which presupposes a good reason ‘Why’ it needs to be done. The weakness of a check list is it’s too easy to carry over the task to another day, week, or month.

What Gets Scheduled Gets Done

‘When’ is the most productive planning question. What gets scheduled gets done. Yet, we often don’t schedule the things most important to us.

Let me give a funny personal example which illustrates how to use this principle with even the most intangible task.

When we were first married, my wife asked me if I thought about her while at the office. A quick mental survey turned up a couple of brief moments amid busy days. “Sure,” I responded cautiously.

She continued, “I miss you when you’re gone. Do you miss me?”

“Of course!” My mental proceed-with-caution lights were now flashing wildly, “Why do you ask?”

“I don’t know, I just don’t feel that special.”

I realized I wasn’t giving our high-priority relationship the attention it deserved. “You are VERY special to me. I’m sorry I haven’t shown it enough lately.”

The next day, I pulled up my calendar and added, “Call Lori” on 4 random days. I also added “Bring Lori flowers” and “schedule lunch with Lori” and “do something nice for Lori” over the next month. As a result, I did what I intended to do and she felt special because of the attention.

A few months later she found out my scheduling secret. Her response? “Keep it up. It’s working!”

Schedule The Important Things First

To get done anything new, extra, or not urgent I have to schedule it. Often these things are critical to my success, but get pushed out of the way.

For example, I want to write a weekly leadership article and post it on my blog. This past year, I wrote 49 articles. I missed only one week. The secret to my success? You guessed it! I schedule writing the articles and stuck to the schedule.

Schedule the important things that easily get pushed aside.

  • Schedule work on projects.
  • Schedule time to think.
  • Schedule filling out financial and other reports.
  • Schedule writing newsletters, marketing emails, social media, and your blog.
  • Schedule time with your kids.
  • Schedule daily rituals.
  • Schedule personal development.

You can also control the ‘urgent’ time wasters by scheduling them so that they don’t eat up your time. In this case, scheduling is used to limit a task to just that time period.

  • Schedule reading and responding to emails.
  • Schedule returning phone calls.
  • Schedule meetings and appointments in only a couple afternoons and by phone if possible.

Think through your priorities. Then, review your calendar and how you use your time. Ask yourself these two scheduling questions:

  1. Which important things do I need to regularly schedule so I get them done?
  2. Which ‘urgent’ time wasters need to be scheduled so they don’t control me?

Question: How do you use scheduling to be more productive? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    5 thoughts on “What Gets Scheduled Gets Done

    1. Thanks for the tips on scheduling. I will be using this more. Each week I ask my wife at some point to go out to breakfast and put it on the schedule. She likes it.

    2. Good tips, Keith! I am a chronic list maker and it works pretty well for me, but the act of scheduling all of my priorities, especially the non-sexy ones, will be a new discipline for me in 2016! Thanks for the wisdom!

      I find that sharing my calendar and commitments with others who I see regularly – my wife, a co-worker, a very good friend – also helps keep me accountable for getting things done. After all, it’s not what we say we will do, but what we actually get done, that matters!

      Happy New Year!