Scheduling free time

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I don’t usually get very granular when it comes to scheduling my workday; instead, I block out large chunks of time during which to work on whatever projects are most important, and punctuate them with calls and meetings.

But I was intrigued by this post by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner about incorporating formal breaks into the day:

In aggregate, I schedule between 90 minutes and two hours of these buffers every day (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks). It’s a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.

At first, these buffers felt like indulgences. I could have been using the time to catch up on meetings I had pushed out or said “no” to. But over time I realized not only were these breaks important, they were absolutely necessary in order for me to do my job.

What’s particularly appealing about this is that formally scheduling down-time means you’re much more likely to take it, rather than, say, plowing through a natural break point because you’ve still got so much to do (guilty), or feeling bad for wasting time when you end up taking a “break” that you didn’t intend to take because you got distracted by an email/article/blog post/chore (guilty).

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