Professional Development Tools & Skills

Why Planning Less Will Boost Productivity

Why Planning Less Will Boost Productivity
Written by Miranda Pennington

It might be a tricky thing to do in our world of overloaded, double-stuffed, triple-stacked offerings, but according to David Caolo at, the best way to give yourself some breathing room and actually boost your productivity is to plan to get less done. That’s right—under-schedule, and you’ll likely over-deliver.

Having recently found myself in a 3 month stretch of hyper-scheduled workload-excess, I can relate. If I plan to get two things done a day, I can accomplish them and add on a bonus ask. If I have to get through 4 things before I can go to bed, anything that distracts me or comes up more urgently may derail my whole day.

Start by planning the night before—ask yourself, “What should I work on first?” as you get ready for bed, so by the time you’re back at your desk, you’re ready to go.

Even better, Caolo suggests not scheduling anything for the last hour of your day. This leaves you free to handle things that come up, it lets you tie up projects that are taking too much time, and allows you to sort through email and last-minute requests for the next day. I love to send a recap email or handle all my administrative tasks at the end of the day. It’s soothing—and frees up my first hour for urgent things instead of the slow, sometimes tedious wind up.

See what happens if you pull the plug on the auto-scheduler and under-do it for a change—you may be surprised how much you can get done!

Build a Time Buffer Into Your Schedule

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.