It was the first week of classes, and one day I had 5 student meetings scheduled. I’ll be honest, it was a lot. By the end of the series of meetings, I was tired and needed a break. But in general, I like to organize my work schedule by stacking similar types of activities on the same day. It helps me to be more effective and efficient.
Lots of Different Activities
Here’s why: As a professor, I have a lot of different types of work activities that I have to do each week. Maybe you have a similar situation with your job. For example, I meet with students, I teach my class, I see clients, I attend meetings, I respond to email, and I work on my own research and writing. Each of these activities requires me to be in a particular mindset. Also, each activity requires me to “get up to speed” before I start actually making progress on my work tasks.
Because of this, I lose a lot of efficiency if I have to switch back and forth between different types of tasks. If, for example, I respond to a few emails, then meet with a student, then try to prep my class, and then try to work on a paper, I’m all over the place. It’s tough for me to make meaningful progress on ANY of my activities.
Stack Activities into Blocks
Because of this, I try to stack each type of activity into different “blocks” in my schedule. So, today I had my meeting block, where I met with each of my students, back to back to back. Sure, it was tiring, but I was able to get into “meeting mode” and crank out all my student meetings. I try to do the same thing with other tasks, like research, teaching, or seeing clients. I try to stack those activities into blocks, so I don’t have to do a lot of task switching.
If you’re struggling with effectiveness or efficiency at work, see if there’s a way to rearrange your schedule so that you stack similar types of activities on the same day. Remember, every time you switch tasks, it takes some time to get up to speed on the new task. This can add up to a lot of wasted time each day. As much as possible, minimize the amount of time you switch from one task to another.