Long before there were cloud-based to-do and calendar apps, effective and motivated people were planning their days. I stumbled across Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule and I’m so impressed. No wonder he was so revered. (More on his autobiography here.) Can a 200+year old daily plan still work? While we may not live out our days in the same way as our Founding Father, here are some tips to create a workable schedule and stick with it.
Creating and following a schedule is the best way to use your time as efficiently as possible. Working on a schedule helps you meet deadlines, keep appointments and stay focused on the task at hand. But following a schedule can be difficult, especially if you aren’t used to planning out your day. Here are some things to keep in mind while making and maintaining your schedule.
Make a To-Do List
The first thing to consider when setting up a schedule is knowing what you need to accomplish. Make a list of everything that you need to get done in a day, as well as a list of leisure activities or other things that you would like to do. Once you’ve made your lists, you can decide how much time you need for each activity and use this to develop a schedule. Schedule high-priority activities first and work everything else in around them.
Use a Planner
Record all of your scheduled events in one organizational tool like a planner. You can use a physical copy or an app on your phone, but it’s important to use the same planner for all your scheduling. This ensures that all of your appointments and meetings will be in the same place and easily accessible, and that no conflicting schedules are made. The simplified scheduling will keep you on track and relieve some of the stress associated with the scheduling process.
Don’t plan out a schedule that you won’t be able to keep. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time in between activities, especially if you have to travel from one to the other. Also, make sure you allow yourself breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Take a trip to a coffee shop. Take a quick walk around the block for fresh air. Planning a schedule that is too busy will leave you feeling tired, and may affect your performance as well as your health.
Keep at It
Ever tried to pick up running or an exercise program? It works if you can build it into your lifestyle. Creating a schedule and sticking to it is like any habit, good or bad...you have to keep at it in order to truly make it stick. The same applies to learning how to properly manage and maintain a workable schedule that you can consistently follow each day. The scheduling process will be less stressful and easier to follow through with each time you plan out your day. Persistence is key!
Expect the Unexpected
More often than not, things don’t quite go according to plan. You may find yourself with your head just above water as your try to manage surprises. Try not to get overly-stressed if things don’t happen exactly as you had expected. Be prepared to make adjustments to your schedule if the situation calls for it. If something comes up that you hadn’t scheduled for, make you’ll make the adjustments. Just be sure to push the priorities for the day to a convenient time in the near future so things don’t fall through the cracks.
These tips cover the very basics of managing your time. After you’ve worked out and followed your own schedule, you can adapt your organizational style to suit your needs. Try out different methods or techniques to see which ones you like. Paper calendar or digital? Pencil and paper or iPhone app? There is no perfect method for scheduling, so you have to find the method that works best for you.