THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHEDULES
I know I’ve talked briefly about this before, but I thought it deserved a longer post.
- gives your time structure
- no time to lay around & worry, sulk or obsess!
- helps to limit problem sleeping
- helps you balance your life activities
- you won’t be double booked!
- makes sure you have self-care time
- helps you figure out priorities
- gets your studying & classes on track!
Basically, there are dozens of reasons why schedules can be good. It all depends on your issues, or why you want to start.
For me, I was napping all the time and sleeping my life away. Now I only take about one short nap a week, when I really need it.
If you’re having problems in school, schedules can help you make and stick to a study schedule. If you’re always late and double booking yourself, schedules can help. If you feel you have too much going on in life and you can’t figure out your priorities, schedules can help. If you feel like you have nothing going on and life is pointless, schedules can help!
- Set up your medium - Use a piece of paper, grid paper, a preprinted calendar or planner, an Excel spreadsheet, Google Docs—anything. Whatever works for you. Block out days of the week, morning/afternoon/night, hours—be as exact or as approximate as you want. Again, just make sure it makes sense to you.
- Block out your have-tos and priorities - Things like sleep, family dinners, work schedules, school, classes, concerts, etc. These are the non-negotiables.
- Determine your categories - What areas do you need to balance? School, home and job? Stressful, peaceful, social? I have two sets: High, medium and low priority, and achievement, connection to others, enjoyment, and self-care. These can be anything, as long as they make sense to you.
- Find balance - Once you’ve figured out what in your life you need to balance, it’s time to balance it. Mark your have-tos and priorities in the category(s) they fit into. I like to do this by color-coding, because I’m a visual person. You can easily use little letters, shapes/symbols, different fonts. (Again, whatever makes sense!) Now look at your schedule. Do you have an overabundance of one thing? Is your schedule overwhelmed by the “stressful” category? Do you have nothing but family and school obligations, and no social engagements?
- Fill it in! - Fill in your schedule based on your answers from #4. If you find you have lots of stressful activities, schedule in lots of relaxation between them or in the evenings. Balance out school and family with social engagements and fun.
Ta-da! You now have the bare bones of a schedule! Play with it until it meets your needs, and you will never regret it!
What medium is right for me?
Look at your life. Are you on the go? Do something that you can a) carry with you or b) access from your mobile phone. If you’re tech-savvy, find an app or a program that syncs to all your devices. If you prefer the feel of paper, use grid paper or a planner.
Experiment til something feels right, works and is convenient!
In my opinion, the best of both worlds is to create the schedule in Excel and then print it out. It gives you a remarkable amount of control—my current schedule is the 3rd picture.
The template I use is here, if you want to give it a test run. (I do alter it a bit)
My schedule is full after step 2.
Whoops! Looks like you’ve got too much goin’ on there. Check out this page for some tips.
I can’t figure out categories.
What do you need to balance? Do you find yourself always forgetting homework for one class and studying all night for another? Maybe classes are one set of categories.
You should have between two and six categories, and perhaps multiple sets. But too many categories will confuse you and derail your schedule!
Here are some sample categories:
- Achievement/connection to others/enjoyment/self-care
- High priority/medium priority/low priority
- High stress/low stress/relaxation
- Short-term goal work/long-term goal work/enjoyment
How do I achieve balance?
Recognize the opposing “pulls” of your categories, and use them to balance each other out. For example, relaxation “opposes” high stress.
If you color-code your schedule, the colors should reflect a balance. You shouldn’t have all high-stress or all relaxation. It’s more of a science than an art. Just go with your gut and play around a bit. You’ll get the hang of it.
What do I fill in?
I tend to fill in “small” things. That is, I’ll fill in television time, crochet time, painting time, and grocery shopping trips. Things I want to do or need to get done eventually.
If you find your schedule has a deficit of things to do, check out my 365 Things post. Do something fun off it. Or try a new hobby. Or call up a friend!
I hate schedules, I prefer spontaneity.
Here’s the thing: you can have a schedule and still be spontaneous. I know, I know, that’s just crazy!
The thing is, schedules help you with priorities and
time life management. A schedule can help you make sure that you don’t spend all your time being spontaneous and miss a huge book report, or that you don’t hop on a bus to Chicago the same weekend as your family reunion. It can make sure you’re heading towards your long-term goals and taking care of yourself while still having time to go crazy and unplanned.
What do you do if you want to have a “spontaneous” schedule?
- When you go to “fill it in”, don’t get specific. Instead of saying “see a movie with Brittany”, you can say “hang out with friends”.
- Leave your categories as your activities. That is, you know you’ll be doing something enjoyment-related—you just don’t know what yet!
- You still need to define some things. But you were never going to be spontaneous about studying for that test, were you?
That’s all for now, folks. Contact me about other schedule questions or comments.