I recently re-read “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore, and came across a time-management strategy that includes taking breaks, having leisure time, getting exercise and maintaining general wellbeing (!) as an essential part of productivity. The author recommends setting up something called an “Unschedule,” which is pretty much a blank schedule of your day split up into half-hour blocks with a few guidelines on how to fill it in.
One of the slight differences between the unschedule and a normal schedule is that in addition to putting in all the fixed commitments you have (classes, meetings, etc.) you also schedule time for exercise, breaks, meals/snacks, and fun events. (The author suggests using different colors for different recurring activities). The idea is that since your leisure and self-care time is more structured, you’ll be less likely to skip it and more likely to be more focused while doing your work since you’ll be working around commitments that you’re looking forward to.
The second part of the unschedule is filling in the time you’ve worked after you’ve been working continuously for at least 30 minutes (the author suggests using your favorite color for this part), or if you haven’t gotten around to work yet, writing in what you’ve been doing in a different color. Seeing the blocks of time in which you were working is intended to motivate you to fill in more of them, and see more of that color on your schedule. Since the blocks are 30 minutes long, if you’re unproductive for one 30 minute block, you have another to try again. I’ve attached two versions of a blank unschedule if you’re interested in filling these out by hand, and there’s always Google calendar as an alternative! Also, stop by the office to check out our other books on time management, stress and a whole slew of other wellness topics!
This is an example of an unschedule filled out.