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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 97 ALWAYS TRANSFER YOUR LIST TO THE DAY CALENDAR THE NIGHT BEFORE One night, I went to bed forgetting to transfer my to-do list to my daily planner. The next morning, I didn't have time to transfer the list to the calendar because I got up too late. All day I ran back and forth between offices, having to use any potential productive time foraging for food and doing laundry. The day was unproductive, and I was frustrated and stressed. I quickly learned my lesson about how preparing the night before sets the stage for a productive day, including deciding when I should get up. WRITE EVERYTHING IN THE DAY PLANNER I also learned that some items on my to-do list never make it to my day planner. These are usually things I don't want to do. For instance, in our new office we have an air- conditioning issue in our lobby. The issue: there is no AC! Last summer, our lobby was unbearable. The landlord had avoided our request to address the problem, and I needed to talk to him. Somehow that talk never made it into my day planner until my wife provided me adequate impetus to do so. Soon, other things that hadn't made it to my day planner, like collecting on overdue bills (not my favorite thing to do), started to pop up on my radar. I was amazed at the number of important business items that never made it to my to-do list or day calendar simply because I didn't want to do them. SCHEDULE IN CATCH-UP TIME I also learned that catch-up time—blocks of unscheduled time—is a good thing to have in my schedule. If I underestimate a project, I can use some of my catch-up time to finish it. Catch-up time is also good for to-do items that I forgot to put in my schedule the night before. And, psychologically, catch-up time prevents me from trying to schedule every minute of the day. An overscheduled day is a stressor because there is no margin for error. However, catch-up time can be tricky territory for me. Theoretically, I could do anything I wanted to do in the catch-up time. This means I could tackle easy tasks instead of hard ones. I started to reward myself with free time within the catch-up time when I accomplished tasks that were difficult for me to get done. BE FLEXIBLE At first, I started to freak out when Pearl needed more walks because to-do items needed to be moved in my schedule in order to create time for Pearl. I worried that if I pushed the to-do items too far into the future, they might get lost. In turns out that my fear of not finishing the task because it was bumped to a future time was based on a memory of old me. Old me stunk at estimating time to complete a task. And, as the unfinished tasks piled up, old me would stop looking at his list because it could become overwhelming. My daily schedule now is constantly in flux. This is a common scenario: one project gets completed, but another takes longer than I think, so it gets bumped in my calendar to the next day or a time that makes sense for me to do it. It may sound like this creates more stress, but for me, knowing that nothing is lost and everything has a time slot reduces my anxiety. EXPERIMENT RESULTS A WORK IN PROGRESS For me, there is no turning back. I don't ever want to return to my pre-experiment scheduling chaos. In fact, my time-management experiment has turned into a time-management project. The lessons from my experiment are being reinforced into habits. I continue to transfer my to-do list into my day calendar before I go to bed and I watch for magical thinking when I schedule to- do items. I also prioritize tasks and create catch-up time in my schedule while remaining flexible, knowing that any task that gets moved to a future date won't get lost. If you're thinking about starting a time-management experiment, the most difficult part may very well be finding the motivation to start. I strongly urge that you don't wait until all hell breaks loose, like I did when I desperately needed to find time for Pearl. As a postscript, I'm sad to say that our Pearly Girl died. I sure miss her and our walks. But I'm glad I figured out how to better manage my time so that I could be with her through it all while keeping my clients happy and running my practice more efficiently than I did in the past. Mark Liskey is a teacher, business owner and massage therapist of 24 years. Recently, he launched a free, online resource for MTs who want to make more money, stay out of pain, and create the massage lives they want (

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