Written by Sarah Provost
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Woody Allen once said, "90 percent of life is just showing up," and that's one good reason to pay close attention to your scheduling. Life today is so hectic and frenetic that we have to pay close attention to when and where it is, exactly, that we're supposed to show up. Whether you're scheduling a play date for preschoolers or a performance evaluation with your boss, or both, you need a system to help you keep track of your life.

That system may range from a simple pocket-sized appointment book and a to-do list to a fully synchronized software system that downloads to your watch. What type of system you use is less important than that you use it. Too many of us make inclusive lists and draw up rigid schedules and then never look at them again until it's time to do the next one.

A Primary Principle for Scheduling

A hoary time-management anecdote concerns a teacher who filled up a glass beaker with stones. When he asked his students if it was full, they said yes. He proceeded to add pebbles, then sand, then water. At each stage the students proclaimed the beaker full. When he asked what they'd learned from this, they said they'd learned that there is always room to put in more. "Wrong," said the guru. "The lesson is, put the rocks in first."

Effective scheduling has to be based on effective prioritizing. First identify those tasks that have time constraints, then rank them in order of importance. If you do your most important task first, the rest of the day will seem like it's all downhill. Save the less important tasks for later in the day, and you might even be able to enjoy them.

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