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What's the best way to plan my week?
Dear Project managers,

I've been managing projects from 6 years now but still haven't found the best way to schedule my day.
I have information coming to me that I need to follow and delegate, as well as some tasks.

The main sources of information are:
1. Email
2. MS Teams
3. Tickets platform
4. Phone

Right now, I'm using MS ToDo to create a list of tasks. When the task comes via Email or MS Teams I can send them directly to MS ToDo with just 1 or 2 clicks.
Those tasks are linked by default which is great.
When the tasks comes via Tickets platform or Phone I write them down directly on MS ToDo. I think this flow is working good.

My main difficulty is when I try to plan my daily schedule.
The first problem, for me, is that I cannot define a estimated time for a MS ToDo task. That way is hard to check how many tasks I'll be able to put in a day.
Another problem is that I cannot put a initial date and end date on a task in MS ToDo. So It's hard to track if I'm on schedule.

Giving this difficulties, I'm using the Outlook calendar to plan my days and weeks. It's a good place because it also has information about meetings.

But I came across with problems as well. The tasks of MS ToDo appear as tasks in Outlook and, although I can define an estimated time for the task, when I drag to the calendar the task does not occupy the specified time. I can drag them to the Outlook calendar and define a start and end date/hour but I cannot mark it as complete there. I have to manually see which tasks match which calendar slots. When I pull a task to the calendar there is also not a information that the task is already planned.

One way or another I feel that there's gotta be a better way to have all connected. Maybe it's my approach that might not be the best. I don't know. Can you give some feedback to help me with the challenges I'm facing?

In summary:

In MS ToDO I can't:
1. Define an estimated time per taks
2. Schedule my day hourly

In MS Outlook I can't:
1. Drag a task to the calendar with an estimated time
2. Mark the task as complete on calendar (forces me to also mark the task in the tasks list)
3. See which tasks are already planned

Any tips? I'm open to alternatives as well.

Thank you so much in advance.
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Manuel -

As PMs, there are usually three categories of work which occupy our days.

1. Regular activities which we are aware of in advance and can be readily scheduled as such. Those are best served by being scheduled in your Outlook calendar. Examples are regular meetings, reporting activities and so on.

2. Your daily "to do" list or backlog. Based on the time remaining after allowing for the items above, you can budget ~80% of the remaining time for those to be worked on in order of priority. Don't bother trying to schedule that in a detailed manner - just block off time in the calendar for working on that backlog...

3. Unplanned stuff/firefighting. That's what the remaining 20% of time is for.

I completely agree with Kiron (and I'm thinking out loud here as well)

I have found that dedicating time to plan my weeks and days is essential when I get very busy. Start with the weekly Outlook schedule and lay out your priorities for the week based on your project goals. If you did nothing else this week, what would you accomplish, and what steps can you realistically fit inside one week?

The blocks of time you are in meetings are what you have to work around to do the rest of your job. In any day, I know what times are already booked. Between those times I will be coordinating up down and horizontally throughout the day when other people are also available, so as much as I would like to accomplish X before lunch, it has been said many ways, No Plan Survives First Contact With the Enemy. Important conversations will delay when I get to work my own actions.

In the morning I review my priorities; I check for anything new that might change the plan, and try to figure out what on my action list I can try to work when in my day, along with my own longer term planning. The day will go more or less according to plan on most days. At the end of the day, I review my notes, move things to the actions list, and adjust my plan.
I do exactly as Kiron explaine: I deal with my tasks according to their priority and set blocks of time. (I usually place tasks that help people ahead of the rest.)

I set blocks of time around my recurring meetings to allow me time to prepare for the meeting, then follow-up. It also has the side benefit of avoiding too many back-to-back meetings.
My experience has been similar to what is mentioned already. I use Microsoft To-Do as well. I will add 2-3 items from my backlog that are "priority" for the day to the "My Day" list. Then I do my best to try and tackle those items when I have open times during my day.

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