Sunday, November 28, 2010

Planning with dependencies

When I was bidding on my classes for this quarter, I decided to try and structure my schedule so that I'd be done with class by 12p on most days. That way, I'd have a lot of long, uninterrupted periods of time to get work done, an idea that I heard echoed in this TED talk by Jason Fried, a co-author of Rework, which is currently sitting in my Kindle waiting to be read.

Ultimately, I ended up with 3 days where I finish by 10a, and on the other 2 days, I have evening classes going from 6:30-9:30p.  I also blocked time on my calendar to try and limit meetings to the 4-hour window between 10-2p. The idea was to limit and confine interruptions to a small window of time to hopefully improve my daily efficiency.

It sounded like a good plan, and it has worked for the most part, but I forgot to account for dependencies. Given that I am in teams in all of my classes, it means that I have to also be ready to accommodate up to 6 other independent schedules for any given class, and realistically, it's hard to do that without being flexible. I wasn't too surprised by this, given that I've run into the challenges of team dependencies before (see here and here).

It also means that there are days where I find myself done with class but stranded at Jacobs for hours waiting for team meetings. Although going home is an option, it's not one that I prefer since it takes 30 minutes round trip for me to get to Jacobs. You do that enough times in one day, and you'll find that you are spending too much time, which could be applied to anything else (napping, going out, reading, etc), moving around.

The main takeaway from all of this is that you need to keep in mind that your schedule in grad school will probably have to be pretty flexible. So although you may not want to have meetings at night or on weekends, or spend more time than necessary at Jacobs, invariably, you will run into situations where you have to do so.

I still think that actively managing your schedule is crucial, especially since it is one of the most popular tactics used by Kellogg alums to maintain life balance. But more on that later when I post my team's presentation and research on Maintaining Life Balance for our Managerial Leadership project.

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