Time management tip – How do you schedule the unexpected?


After reading my blog about “Compression socks, gin and a magnet,” a few folks wanted to know some time management tricks for how I managed my schedule when unexpected incidents arose.

The first step is to not schedule your day so tightly that you don’t have a break in there somewhere. Allow some time in between your meetings and events. If possible, allow a gap of an hour or two at some point in your day so that you can address emergencies or opportunities that arise. Whatever project work time you had scheduled for that slot would need to get moved to a different slot if there was not enough time to finish that scheduled task after handling the last minute one.

If possible, schedule your “fire” for a time that suits you. Obviously, if you’re having a heart attack or stroke, you’d need to call 911 immediately! Those are true emergencies. In most cases, however, what has suddenly landed in front of us is certainly unexpected, and it may need to be addressed sooner rather than later, but it’s not necessarily a true emergency. Understanding this will improve your time management exponentially!

For example, finding the lump on my leg puzzled and scared me, but it was not something worthy of calling 911. So, I went to urgent care during what I’d previously scheduled as one hour for project work time. I chose this specific facility because they have an online appointment system, so I could register, and then drive over. That beats losing time in a waiting room. Since I didn’t know how crowded they’d be, I immediately emailed the person in charge of my next appointment for the day, which was to occur one hour later. I let her know my situation, and to be prepared to work on something else if I couldn’t phone in on time for our conference. This gave her enough notice to flip flop her time blocks, adjust the meeting accordingly (three of them were to be in her office for the conference call) and still get things done despite my throwing a wrench into her schedule. Had I waited until five minutes before our appointment, that definitely would not have given her time to regroup.

At 15 minutes before our scheduled call, I emailed her another update that I was still in the examining room, would unlikely make the call on time, so I’d call her immediately following my exit from the clinic. Knowing that she’s a nurturer and would drop something to take my call later, I instructed her (gave her “permission,” let her off any kind of hook…) to not wait on my call, and to not take my call if she was in the middle of something. We could always reconnect later.

So, how’d it all turn out? Find out next week!




For more productivity tools and tips from time management keynote speaker Helene Segura, click here.

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