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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Charles Schwab and Mary Kay's Overscheduling Tip

6 Most Important Things to Do
Productivity (Mary Kay's idea)
Over scheduling -- it is a real problem for many of us and not just parents, but teachers as well. Here is another idea that you might try to see if you can handle this issue in a more relaxed way.

In my (much) younger years, I read Mary Kay Ashe's book about her company's success principles. I was deeply affected by Mary Kay's story of her life, as young people often are during such tender periods in life. One thing I walked away with from my reading was a tip that I still use today mmmff decades later, and that is the story of Charles Schwab, once the president of Bethlehem Steel, and Ivy Lee, a business consultant.

Charles Schwab, a rich man who ran a very successful company, consulted with Ivy Lee about how to increase his employees' effectiveness and productivity. Mr. Lee asked to speak to Mr. Schwab's executives for 15 minutes each. Mr. Lee would not quote Mr. Schwab a price tag for his advice to the executives; instead Mr. Lee suggested that Mr. Schwab write a check at the end of three months for whatever value Mr. Schwab ascribed to the exercise. At the end of the three-month period, Mr. Schwab wrote Mr. Lee a check for $25,000, which would be worth several hundred thousands of dollars in today's value. And this expensive advice?

Six Things

At the end of each day, write down the 6 most important things you need to do the next day. Prioritize them. Then the next day, start with number one on the list and keep at it until it is done. Then begin with number 2 on the list and so on until the list has been completed. At the end of the day, repeat the process.

I liked this advice. So did Mary Kay Ashe, who used it to provide her beauty consultants with pink to-do notepads that had room for six items on the list. I know because I used to use them then, and I still use the idea today to keep me from doing too much. Years later I found similar pads, and now I make up my own. I must confess that I sometimes put 8 things on the list (yes, I cheat). I have also found a few other things that help me with the over-scheduling issue.

Add Location as a To Do Item

I used to wonder why I was so tired on some days when I had not really completed all of my six daily items. Then I noticed a pattern, that these particular days were days when I had to be at several different locations and teaching quite a few students at each location. Was it fair for me to limit my list writing to six items when I actually had to teach 15 different students? My list was not long enough for me to fit my day!

My solution was to begin noting the location on the daily list as a "thing to do." For example, I will list "university" and "studio" and "church" on my list because I have to do all 3 of those things. My list became much clearer and easier to manage when I realized how much time I needed to spend in each location. On days that have six locations listed, I do not try to squeeze in personal errands or other "extra" things. A day with several locations listed does not have anything extra of any kind on it.

Throw it Away

One of my other most useful tricks is to throw my list away at the end of the day. I know that Mr. Lee recommended that whatever list items were not completed by the end of the day be put on the next day's list, but I have found that this adds an element of stress that I find unhelpful. Instead, I have a list somewhere in my planner of things that I know I must accomplish in that particular week. If something absolutely must get done in the week, then it will be on that list on my planner. My daily list is my way of organizing and managing my available time for that particular day. Sometimes things go well and I accomplish everything and then some. I still find it less stressful to start out with a clean slate every day rather than allow things to accumulate on my next days' lists.

I do not think that I will ever resolve my over scheduling problem. There is probably a deep-rooted psychological reason for doing so much. My father would probably say I was falling prey to the typist's "end pressure" as they would sense coming to the end of the platen roll, which is my father's metaphor for end-of-life issues. Whatever the reason, I will probably continue to muddle along in my comfortable fashion and continue to explore the various options available to me. Who knows? Maybe I will explore the world of virtual assistants next? Unfortunately, I cannot delegate actual teaching responsibilities to a VA.

If you missed my earlier articles about scheduling issues, go to these links:

Help! I can't Do It All!!! (3/3/16)

Things to Do This Week in the Studio (3/7/16)

Eliminate One Thing (3/10/16)

Scheduling and Priority Shifters (3/16/16)

And if you missed my talk about over scheduling, please be sure to read this one:

Physical Environment and Timing (2/2/4/16)

Until next time,

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2016 by Paula E. Bird

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