In the last post, I talked about scheduling which was the seventh step in that guide. I talked about how scheduling will help you control your time and be more productive. Due to the importance of scheduling, I decided to devote a whole article to talk about it in details. Also, I want to share with you my story with scheduling hoping that it can change your view toward the idea of setting up a schedule.
Scheduling can be hard to maintain as a daily habit especially for people who have never used a schedule before. It’s not hard to set up a schedule. But, the problem resides in sticking to it. This is where most people lost their faith in using schedules. I totally get that because I’ve been there.
In real life, new things and tasks pop up all the time which makes sticking to the schedule seems almost impossible. This is why most people hate scheduling. It’s frustrating.
I used to hate scheduling me either. I thought it wasn’t not practical to use in real life. I used to think that only CEOs and managers who have their own secretaries will be able to stick to a schedule. I couldn’t make it work, because, deep inside, I didn’t believe that it will ever work.
As I always say, change only starts from within. The brain is the one responsible for human behavior. People ignore, most of the time, this part that is crucial to any self-change. So, if you really want to organize your time effectively, it’s not about using to-do lists or using calendars. It’s about establishing a mindset and a lifestyle where time is super important to you. To-do lists are just tools. It’s you who make them work or not.
So What Changed My Mind About Scheduling ?
Books are the bread of the mind. Reading books allows us to live several lives and benefit from the experiences of the authors. You can do all that while you’re sitting in your living room with a book in your hands.
There are two things that can change you : life experiences and books. Life experiences are of course the best teacher you can have. However, you can’t experience everything in your lifetime. So, the only way to learn more things about life is books. By reading about others’ experiences, you become wiser. That’s why we have this habit of turning into books to find answers and solutions of our problems. That’s exactly what I did.
A few years ago, I used to feel that there were so many things that I wanted do. But, there wasn’t enough time. Everything was fuzzy back then. I was a complete mess. It was really frustrating not to be able to organize my time the way I wanted. It was depressing.
So, I decided to search for a book that can help me solve this problem. I wanted a book that can teach me how to manage my time. My desire back then was to be able to maintain a balance between school and other stuff that I wanted to do.
I found many books about time management that were interesting. But, the one book that got my attention was Cal Newport‘s How To Become a Straight-A Student. Since I was on my last year in high school, it seemed a good choice to prepare for college. After reading a couple reviews about it, I decided to buy it.
The book focuses on helping college freshmen to achieve academic success and still enjoy the benefits of college life. It explains many time management techniques to maintain a balance between college duties and personal/social life. It contains many amazing practical tips and techniques about college that blew my mind.
What makes this book stand out, from other “how to succeed in college books”, is that Cal Newport wrote this book based on the experiences of real successful students. Students that were able to achieve success in college along with having other social activities. It’s not a book written by some academic expert and based on how college used to be decades ago when he was a student. It’s a practical guide ready to be implemented in real life.
Maybe I’ll write a complete review about this book in the future. But, for now I wanna focus on scheduling and how this book changed the way I see it.
Cal Newport Scheduling Method
The idea introduced in this book is very simple. All you need to have is a calendar and a list.
A calendar can be anything and you don’t have to carry it around. You can set your calendar on Microsoft Outlook or whatever desktop program you want. It can be an excel sheet. What matters is that your calendar should be divided by days and hours (not necessary) and have enough space to record dozen items for each day.
You’ll need also a list. It can be a piece of paper or an app such as Evernote. What’s important is that you can carry it around with you. You should carry it all the time. So, you better use something simple and portable.
The main idea is that you’ll record all of your to-dos and deadlines on your calendar. This becomes your schedule where you put all the tasks that you need to do. You’ll have to deal with your schedule once every 24 hours. So, each morning, you look at it to figure out what you should try to finish that day. Then, throughout the day, whenever you encounter a new to-do or deadline, simply jot it down on your list. The next morning, you can transfer this new stuff from your list onto your calendar, where it’s safe. And we’re back where we started. It’s pretty simple, right ?
Cal was so convincing and the method he suggests was very simple. So, I decided to give it a try.
At the beginning it was difficult for me to stick to the schedule. But, I’ve kept trying by setting my schedule everyday in the morning even if I’m not sure that I was going to stick to it. After a few weeks, I noticed that I had become able to finish all the items on the schedule. It felt so good. For the first time in my life I felt super productive and that everything is going the way I want it to be.
It wasn’t all about getting more things done in the day. It was more about maintaining a balance between your professional and social life. Using a schedule allows you to have a better control over your day. You’ll be able to do almost everything that you want to do. It’s life-changing.
After that, I discovered Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that had a huge impact on my life. It’s a great book. For me, it’s best personal development book ever written.
It’s a master piece that should be taught in every school around the world. I’ll surely write an article about the things I’ve learned from it in another post.
It’s Your Turn
If you’re a college student, then I highly recommend reading Cal Newport’s How To Become a Straight-A Student. It will change your perspective about time management and college life in general. Also, the book covers other topics that will definitely help you during your college years. For instance, it talks about how to take notes, prepare for exams and how to get A’s all the time.
I’m not here to advertise Cal’s book which needs no introduction at all. I’m just sharing with you guys a book that had a huge impact on my life.
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