It seems counter-intuitive: scheduling time to play. How can that be productive? Yet in his book, The Now Habit, Neil Fiore argues that part of the solution to overcoming procrastination is the “unschedule”–that is, scheduling fun first then making the slots around that filled with high productivity. This is particularly important for entrepreneurs working on their own time, whether after hours from a scheduled job or full-time from an office, home or coffee shop. Rather than get our tasks done, it’s easy to procrastinate: check Facebook, send emails, water the plants, feed the dog, watch a TV show, sort the mail, talk on the phone and do everything except complete our task list, partly because we resent not having the time for recreation or socializing.
I’ve been scheduling play for over a year now, and while there’s always room to improve, I’ve found life to be much richer since doing so. About once a week, I go through my Facebook invites, e-vites and other lingering invites and mark on my calendar the ones I’m remotely interested in attending. I try to make a definite reply as much as possible and found that I’ve attended more social events than I did before because my open-ended personality was so noncommittal, I would’ve let them pass before realizing I’d even been invited. This approach works especially well when combined with a bit of planning as described in Getting Things Done. In addition to invites from others, I have my own flexible fun lists to try to make happen by scheduling a few each season.
This means that before heading out to an event or during my non-playtime scheduled slots, I can be super focused on what’s in front of me. Concerted efforts with 30 minutes of focus can produce a lot higher results than you might think! Even 8 minutes, as inspired by The 8 Minute Organizer, can knock out a kitchen cleanup or other task I’ve been procrastinating on. I find that if I spend just 8 minutes per day on personal email, I can prevent it from piling up and drowning me with unopened messages.
All for tonight. It’s time to go schedule some fun!