Do more quality work with the Unschedule

By Victor Macias,

Published on Apr 28, 2023   —   2 min read

Photo by Estée Janssens / Unsplash

The Unschedule is a concept developed by Neil Fiore, author of The Now Habit. It flips the traditional schedule on its head. Instead of scheduling work obligations first, you prioritize guilt-free play and other social commitments.

By prioritizing guilt-free play, you remove the underlying causes of procrastination and reduce resentment toward work, improve your quality of work, and increase your motivation to work.

Here's how it works:

  1. Schedule guilt-free play first - Schedule fun first. Work and everything else fits around it.
  2. Work in 30-minute increments. The key is to just get started. Make your habits so easy that it's laughable if you don't complete them. Once you've built momentum, it's easy to keep going.
  3. Log your work. Record every 30 minutes of uninterrupted quality work onto your Unschedule. This gives you a greater sense of accomplishment in your day (less guilt).

The Unschedule guidelines:

  1. Schedule only: Previously committed time such as meals, sleep, meetings, free time, rest, reading, social time, lunches, dinners with friends, fun with kids, fitness activities, routine structures events (commute time, classes, doctors appointments).
  2. Log time after you've worked in your calendar in 30-minute increments of interrupted work (Deep Work, Pomodoro Technique).
  3. Reward yourself with a break or change to a more enjoyable task after each period worked.
  4. Keep track of the number of quality hours worked each day and each week
  5. Always leave at least one full day a week for recreation and any small chores you wish to take care of.
  6. Before deciding to go to a fun activity or social commitment, take time out for just 30 minutes of deep work.
  7. Focus on starting - Replace all thoughts of finishing with "When is the next time I can start?" (Track inputs to increase your chance of success)
  8. Think small
  9. Keep starting
  10. Never end "down - Never stop work when you're stuck or when you have open loops.

The tenets:

  • Don't work more than 20 hours per week
  • Don't work more than 5 hours per day
  • You must exercise, and play for at least one hour per day.
  • Take at least one day off per week
  • Focus on starting with just 30 minutes of quality work
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