Everyone's busy, everyone's trying to figure out how to make the most out of the hours in a day, but sometimes time gets away on us. That's where micro-scheduling comes in - or does it? Siena Yates tests the theory.
Apparently the most successful people in the world are micro-scheduling now. Whether you need an orderly way to get through your busy schedule without losing your mind, a reminder to take breaks to manage your anxiety or simply just love to feel organised (or, like me, all of the above), micro-scheduling is supposed to help you get things done efficiently and still make time for yourself, without accidentally losing hours to a screen.
Most of what I've seen seems to lead back to Elaine Lui, founder of celebrity news site Laineygossip. She isn't necessarily the first person to micro-schedule her life but she does seem to be one of the first to go on record about it, telling the Guardian all about how she divides each day into 10 to 15-minute blocks of time. It reportedly has a lot in common with methods used to manage ADHD and other disorders including anxiety and depression, as planning to take breaks not only allows for the break, but pre-emptively battles the inevitable guilt associated with taking them.
Psychotherapist Alex Neumann told the Guardian that breaking things down into manageable steps helps to avoid feeling overwhelmed. And Moyra Scott, of corporate productivity consultancy Then Somehow, told the Guardian people need to learn how to work - when things get on top of you, the single most effective thing you can do is take a break and plan how best to use your time.
So ideally, it should work.
This was a mistake. Fun fact about my raging anxiety: It does not like feeling like a failure. Thus, right from the time I missed my wake-up call I was already over it. Because from there, my 10 minutes to get dressed and ready was pushed back, as were the 15 minutes allotted to sorting breakfast and subsequently the other 5-10 minute blocks of my morning fell like dominoes, so by the time I got to work I already felt behind. Things went similarly tits-up at work because it turns out taking a break every 15 minutes or attempting to do a new task every 15 minutes puts you at a pretty quick sprint to either the unemployment line or your grave. Mostly I just got more and more stressed out by my alarm going off every 15 minutes.
I just don't think this works in real life. Hell, my life is easier than most: I live alone, I drive to work, my schedule is flexible, I have no children and no commitments - and I still struggled. That said, I'll tell you when it did come in handy - after work, when I could schedule my commute, my rest time, gym time, shower time, cooking and eating time, skin care time, oral hygiene time, reading time, tea time and bed time to an absolute T. And, let me tell you, nothing has ever been more satisfying.
So it works, if you have the kind of life that allows you to function distraction-free. For the rest of us, best to give it a miss.