I was trying to schedule a meeting with a very busy working mother who was very concerned about and reluctant to commit to a meeting time. After digging in further, I found out that her career often required last minute requests with quick turnarounds and as a result, she didn’t feel like she had control of her schedule. She shared that often she would avoid scheduling meetings or appointments for fear of letting someone down if she couldn’t make it or had to cancel at the last meeting. This extended into her social life as well.

More often than not for most of us, life happens and things get in the way of our plans and impact our scheduled plans. While it’s critical to plan and schedule your time to maximize productivity, the reality is that things change and schedules have to be adjusted. In fact, sometimes we need to plan for that.

One handy trick that I’ve used for years and has saved me many times is to “double book.” It’s so simple. If something needs to get done, schedule it into your day. And, if it’s really important, schedule it again at another time. Yes, just go ahead and book two times to ensure that if something comes up and disrupts the first window, you already have a backup plan in place.

This works for exercising as well. If you really want to make sure that you get out to the gym or for a run, schedule time to do it. And then find a second time to make sure if you miss the first window, you still have time to get it done.

It’s a bit more challenging but you can do this for meetings as well. First, set expectations with the meeting participant that your schedule often gets disrupted with urgent, last-minute requests but meeting with him/her is really important to you so you would like to book two meeting times in case the first one falls through. Nobody has ever turned this down or questioned it. In fact, most are pretty open to it and think it’s a pretty smart idea.

And there’s also an added bonus benefit. When you do get your task done or meeting in during the first scheduled spot, then your second one opens up some valuable time on your calendar to do something else or have some fun. It’s always nice to delete an appointment and see some unexpected time open up in my day.

TRY THIS OUT: Pick something that you really need to get done this week. Schedule time for it and then schedule another time later in the week to make sure it gets done. You win either by having a backup plan or by opening up extra time on your calendar.

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