Never Miss a Deadline Again

Last Updated Jul 15, 2011 11:38 AM EDT

Every weekend, I list my priorities for the upcoming week. I find that organizing my life in 168-hour chunks gives me a good sense of how I should be spending my hours. When work gets really busy, though, I start scheduling in priorities by the hour Monday through Thursday.
But never Friday.

Why not? Because Friday is my margin time.

Inevitably, something will come up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday that I haven't planned for. It could be an exciting new opportunity that I need to seize, or it could be a long, drawn-out game of phone and fax tag required to move my medical records from one doctor's office to another. Either way, that means that something that was supposed to happen during the first part of the week won't get finished.

If Friday is chock-full too, then I'd run the risk of not completing a priority during that week. Rather than let that happen, I do what I can to keep at least Friday afternoon as open as possible.

Sure, building in a cushion is sometimes difficult. But the pay-off comes in peace of mind. You don't necessarily have to work until 10PM on Wednesday, because you know there's an open block on Friday waiting for you. And hey, if everything goes perfectly during the week, then you can spend Friday relaxing! This will never actually happen, but hey, it's nice to dream.

When do you build in margin time?

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Photo courtesy flickr user, graymalkn