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Microscheduling: Trend or Hype?

Here at Doodle, we’re interested in anything that might boost our productivity: working better and smarter is our endgame, after all. When we heard about microscheduling, we were naturally keen to learn more. So what is it and more importantly, should you try it?

What is a microschedule?

Microscheduling is the latest productivity trend making waves online although not without raising a few eyebrows. Essentially, microscheduling entails breaking your schedule down into small increments we’re talking timeslots as brief as 90 seconds and assigning a task to each one. Microschedulers swear by this technique, but some productivity gurus say the tactic is too extreme to yield lasting results.

So, what does a typical microschedule look like? Well, think of a conventional to-do list, with a handful of tasks written in bullet-point format. The microschedule is pretty much the opposite of that. To begin with, the day is broken up into small timeslots, and each timeslot is designated a task. Typically these slots are anywhere between 5-15 minutes long, although shorter tasks (like taking a bathroom break) can be squeezed into increments as short as a minute and a half. With a microschedule, every minute of your workday is accounted for.

Why should you microschedule?

Sticking to a microschedule has one clear benefit: breaking your day into small timeslots forces you to divide large tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. So, while the traditional to-do list might only have one or two large tasks — things like, ‘Write report’ the microschedule takes that task and breaks it down ‘Outline report’, ‘Gather budget numbers for report’, ‘Draft introduction for report’. Research shows that we can be intimidated by large tasks; ‘chunking’ large tasks into small, achievable steps is a proven, effective strategy for actually accomplishing them.

In addition, setting a microschedule encourages you to look at your day mindfully and plan it with intention. When every minute is spoken for, it’s easy to avoid time-suck and distractions. Win-win!

Why shouldn’t you microschedule?

A strict microschedule can be pretty intense: this tactic is definitely not for everyone! For one thing, a microschedule allows no room for error or spontaneity. If someone arrives five minutes late to your planned meeting, the rest of your schedule goes out the window. By the same token, if you’re really getting into the groove of one of your scheduled tasks, it can be counterproductive to switch gears.

Another drawback: unless you’re specifically scheduling it, there’s no room for downtime in a microschedule. And while downtime might not produce concrete results immediately, it’s shown to be important for nurturing creativity and generating ideas.

So, what’s the verdict?

Microscheduling is not a one-size-fits-all productivity solution. But the strategy behind it mindfully accounting for your time and breaking down large tasks into manageable to-do’s is sound. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a seemingly impossible task, or if you feel like you never have much to show at the end of your workday, why not give microscheduling a go? You might be pleasantly surprised!

 

By Jessica Miller

Jessica Miller is an Australian writer currently based in Berlin

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