Articles

How to Stay Productive When You Have a Chaotic Schedule

September 29, 2019


If there is one thing that we productivity guru, rockstar, mogul ninja samurais love
to go on and on about it is our schedules, how utterly customized
and tailored they are towards our optimal working conditions, our chrono type, and our
secret wow rating addictions. But every single time we
write another blog post or make another video
about our scheduling hacks I know there are many of you out there who are simply tearing your hair out at how unhelpful they are for you because you are dealing
with an inconsistent and chaotic schedule that
is out of your control. Whether its due to your
class schedule or a job you simply don’t have time for
a three hour morning routines with vipassana meditations or two hour forest bathing sessions in the middle of the workday just like nothing of
consistently cooking dinner on a regular basis or getting to the gym as many times a week as you want. So what can be done for
people in this situation? What do you do if you have an
inconsistent chaotic schedule that seems to hamper the
development of new habits and block your progression
towards your goals? Well I’ve actually got a few suggestions for you in this video today because I have been in
this situation in the past. Yes now as an entrepreneur I’m
able to set my own schedule but that wasn’t always the case. All throughout high school
I had part time jobs at grocery stores and Target
and lots of other places where my manager basically set my schedule I had pretty much no say in the matter and even in college I worked at a job where I had different hours
almost every single week. So from those experiences as well as a lot of online research that I did in preparation for this video I wanna give you some suggestions for making the most of
an inconsistent schedule and still making progress
on your goals despite it. And the first thing
that I wanna share here is a lesson I learned very early on when I started my first job in college at the campus IT center which was that I had to get my schedule into my own personal calendar as soon as I could possibly could. See my first job in college was working at the tech support center answering calls and helping
people fix their computers. – Hello IT have you tried
turning this off and on again? (laughing) – And the cool thing about that job was that you could basically choose your own hours every single week, but there was a catch, every week at a specific
day and a specific time a giant calendar of hours
slots would become open to every employee in the company which means that it was a
first come first serve thing, if you were there first you basically had the best pick of hours you could get exactly what you wanted but if you were there even say
five minutes late sometimes you could be looking at slim pickings. And there were certainly some weeks early on on my first semester at that job before I really learned
how important it was to get there early where
this happened to me. So after a few harsh weeks
trying to fill my hour quota with a bunch of random
half an hour sessions here and there between classes I learned two important lessons. Number one, be sitting at that calendar refreshing it over and over and over again right when those hours opened. And number two which is the lesson I’m gonna share here the moment I understood
what my schedule was on that work calendar I needed to transfer over
to my Google calendar my personal calendar. Now you know this is important for knowing when you’re supposed to go to work but this is also important for being able to develop healthy habits and work on your independent
projects as well. What we’re trying to
avoid here is derailment, derailing on your goals, derailing on your habits and yes ultimately the thing that’s going to cause this to happen is a lack of motivation and
a lack of self discipline but the catalyst for those things can often be that inconsistent schedule we kind of run on schedules we run on consistency and when external factors are really kind of destroying that for us it can be hard to actually self-regulate. So the way that I combated that and the way that I lessened
its impact on my life was by getting very good at managing my own personal schedule and getting things into my
calendar as early as possible. What this did was allow me to sit down at the beginning of the week and look at my calendar
from a birds eye view. Yes it was an inconsistent schedule but I was able to identify
lots of little blocks of time that were free to me. So maybe I couldn’t say go to
the gym every single morning or have time to cook
dinner at the same time every single night, but I could look and say all right I’ve got
Monday and Wednesday free so I’m going to schedule gym
time during those free blocks. Tuesday mornings take up my work in class but I do have a tiny block
Tuesday afternoon free so maybe I’ll go for a run then. And what I found over the years is that when I plan things in advance I feel sort of beholden to my past self so it’s more likely that I’m
going to actually do them. It’s definetly not foolproof it’s not about a combat boot wearing fairy about ready to kick me in the butt if I don’t do what I set up to do but it’s much better than trying to decide in the moment that I’m
going to do something because I’ve got a couple of free hours. So when you have an inconsistent schedule make sure you’re getting things
into your personal calendar as early as you possibly can and then sitting down once a
week over viewing your calendar and picking up those free hours that aren’t already taken up by something and deciding what you’re
going to do with them ahead of time. Now one thing that I fortunately
didn’t have to deal with during my years of part-time job work was night shift work, having an inconsistent sleep
schedule dictated by my job but I know that this is something that a lot of people do deal with including a couple of friends
of mine who work at a hospital so I wanted to include a few tips for if you’re in this situation as well. First and foremost if the
consistency of your sleep is under attack by an
inconsistent schedule then what you need to prioritize
getting is enough sleep. You may not be able to get it at the same time every single night but you can at least make
sure you’re getting enough. Now one of the things that
can really hamper this goal for a lot of shift workers is the fact that they’re trying
to get sleep during the day and they’re under assault by light coming in through their windows, by noise being made by the roommates or T-Rex’s in the other room
if you work at Jurassic Park, all kinds of stuff. So what do you do in that situation? Well tip number one you get what I have hanging
right over there in this studio, a pair of good block out curtains. See your body circadian rhythm the synchronization with
the day and night schedule and part of the biological
process that regulates your sleep is heavily influenced
by the amount of light that you are perceiving. To give you a really quick refresher from 9th grade Biology class, in your eye you have in
addition to cones and rods that sense things like
detail and color and movement something called a photosensitive
retinal ganglion cells and these cells perceive light and send signals to a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Now this little piece of brain hardware sends instructions to
other parts of the body which regulate the production of hormones like melatonin and cortisol and these affect your
sleep and your sleep drive. So long story short if you have a bunch of light
coming in through your window where you’re trying to get some sleep because it’s 7:00 a.m. and you
just got done with the shift you’re gonna have a harder
time actually falling asleep your body doesn’t think
it’s time for sleep. But if you have a pair
of block out curtains then that basically solves the problem, your room is dark and your body can think
that it’s nighttime. Of course light isn’t the only
problem you have to deal with if you’re trying to sleep during the day, because you also have
to contend with noise whether it’s your
roommates in the other room or literally the band dragging force if you are a particular sleepy roadie. So the deal with all that noise make an investment in
a good pair of earplugs and by investment I mean like $2.00 because earplugs are super cheap. Now one thing that I do wanna mention before we move on from this issue of dealing with your sleep schedule is that you could actually
change that sleep schedule. Most people sleep what’s called
a monophasic sleep schedule which means they sleep in one long seven to eight hour
block of time each night, but there are also
polyphasic sleep schedules. Now a lot of these are ineffective and result in not sleeping
enough hours total but the one that I wanna suggest
here which can be effective is the simple biphasic sleep schedule. This is a schedule where
you have a four to five hour core block of sleep each night followed by a two to three hour longer nap during the middle of the
day or at some other time. And there was actually a NASA funded study that looked at the effectiveness
of this sleep schedule for astronauts and they
came to the conclusion that split sleep schedules are feasible and can be used to enhance the flexibility of sleep work schedules
for space operations involving restricted nocturnal sleep due to mission critical task scheduling. (exhaling loudly) Damn run on sentences. It goes on to say that these results are generally applicable to any continuous industrial operation that
involves sleep restriction, night operations and shift work. So given those results this might be something to look into if you don’t have time
for a monophasic schedule. Now one thing to know is all
the tips we’ve gone over so far are meant to help you deal
with a chaotic schedule but ultimately the goal should
be to actually escape it. Yes for people with certain career goals like EMTs or surgeons an inconsistent schedule might
just come with the territory but for most of us
having a chaotic schedule is just kind of part of paying our dues, it’s a byproduct of the
jobs and obligations we have to take on moreover in school or otherwise climb up the ladder. So if you eventually wanna have a more consistent and manageable schedule and be able to have those
three hour morning routines then be on lookout for
jobs and opportunities that will get you closer to it or negotiate with your
manager at your current job once you’ve proven yourself to see if you can start moving towards more consistent hours there, and of course use some of your free time to bolster your career skills so you can put yourself in a
better negotiating position. Work on your soft skills like
communication, organization, but also work at becoming a
better creative problem solver someone who can tackle the more challenging complex problems that every business deals with. And if you wanna research so you can use this to start building those problem solving
abilities check out Brilliant. Brilliant is a math and
science learning tool that focuses on helping you learn actively and become a truly capable problem solver. Their courses throw immediately
into challenging problems that not only help you
learn about subjects like Calculus and machine
learning really effectively but also help you become
universally better at dealing with the
type of complex problems you’ll face in your future career. Brilliant library has
course on probability, on math quantitative finance,
physics and astronomy and computer sign off topics
like algorithms and memory. And in addition to being able to learn right on their website you also find mobile apps
light to work in your courses wherever you are. So to start learning for free head it over to brilliant.org/thomasfrank and if you’re one of the first 83 people to click that link in the
description down below and sign up you’re also gonna get 20% off your annual premium subscription. Wanna give a big thanks to Brilliant for sponsoring this video and being a supporter of this channel and as always guys thank
you so much for watching. If you enjoyed this video maybe think about hitting that like button and also subscribe right there if you don’t wanna miss future videos when they come out every single week. You can also get a free copy of my book in how to earn better grades
by clicking right there. Follow me at Instagram at Tom Frankly and last but not least you can get one more video on this channel by clicking right here. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you guys in the next video.

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