Time management and schedules often go hand in hand. While I do believe that having a schedule or routine is important to successful time management, I also believe it is important to set your priorities and goals first. Hence the reason I addressed those first in the series. So now that we have covered time management pitfalls, priorities and goals, we can address methods for schedules and routines.
As I have said before, I’ve never been good at sticking to a schedule or keeping a set of routines but after many failed attempts I have come to realize that I do need some sort of structure in my day. I have also realized that I was lacking the discipline and focus that I needed for successful time management.
There are many methods for schedules and routines. For this post, I’ve come up with four ways people tend to approach the schedule/routine of time management. I don’t want to say that any of these ways are better than the others because it really is about what works best for you and your personality. Some people are super productive when they have a set plan for most of their day, others may find that type of schedule too restrictive. If you have a way that works for you than by all means keep at it, and share some of your great tips!
1. Schedule your whole day in 30-60 minute chunks
This method is fairly self-explanatory. Basically you will have some sort of planner with slots of time allotted for different things throughout the day. Typically this type of schedule is something you create to be the same every day or every week.
Pros: You have a set schedule which means you have a plan. This is good for people who like a lot of structure or have a fairly consistent
Cons: It can be less flexible since you have everything planned out.
2. Have a set of routines that you plan to do everyday
With this method you decide on a few things that need to get done at certain periods of the day, usually morning, afternoon and evening. This could be something like quiet time, exercise and laundry in the morning.
Pros: Gives some structure and plan as far as specific things you need to do each day.
Cons: Doesn’t necessarily account for when you have to do other things during those times. For example if you have an appointment in the morning you may not be able to get through your morning routines. It can also be harder to stick to since there is not much structure.
3. Weekly to-do lists
Another method is to write out a list of things you need to do for each week. Throughout the week you would try to cross tasks off of your list.
Pros: Gives you a scope of tasks that you need to do each week.
Cons: Since to-do lists focus on specific tasks, you might be missing things on the list that you do each day. As a result you might put more on the list than you can reasonably do throughout the week.
4. Combination of a schedule, routine and list methods.
For this method, create a list of things you want to do each week the create a weekly schedule taking into account extra things you have to do for that week. Then think of things that you do every day and see if you can create some routines. Cater your morning routines to help you get your day started well and your evening routines to help you unwind and get ready for bed.
Pros: This method can give you a little more flexibility as you create a new schedule each week based on what you specifically need to do for that particular week. You can also make it as structured as you see fit. This would work well for people who have a lot of different things to do each week, allowing for some inconsistency in schedule.
Cons: It can be time-consuming to have to create a new schedule every week.
How to Choose Your Ideal Method
The first thing to keep in mind when choosing a method is what you ideally want from time management. Do you want a lot of structure or do you work best with guidelines and a loose plan?
Look back at your list of priorities and goals. Is there a particular method that would work well with your goals?
Then decide which method would fit best with your lifestyle. If you don’t have a lot of responsibilities, you may not need a strict schedule like number one above. Also, your personality may fit better with one method over another. If you feel too restricted and like your joy is being sucked out of you with a strict schedule, then it probably is not your ideal method.
When deciding which works best for you, it is also important to remember the time management pitfalls (part one, Part two). Think of which ones you struggle with the most and make sure that you have a way to keep yourself from falling into the trap. If you have a hard time with distractions for example, maybe you need to schedule some time to check social media then decide to only be on it during that time unless you have free time.
Here’s a couple of other pitfalls that I want to highlight:
I’ve said this before, but it deserves to be said again…be flexible!! I really think it is one of the most important keys to success in your time management because if you are not flexible you will either be way too focused on what has to be done and miss out on other opportunities, or you when you have to deter from your schedule you may be tempted to give up all together. Neither is a good place to be.
Be realistic. If you know you can’t fit five things in your schedule every day, then don’t! This also will have a lot to do with your stage in life. A new mom won’t have lots of extra time to do anything but care for her baby and that is completely fine. However, even if you do have some extra time don’t try to overload yourself. At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that you did what you could so let the rest go. Even if you messed up or slacked off, tomorrow is a new day and you’ll have the opportunity to start again.
One last thing I want to leave you with is this; be careful not to fill your day with nothing but busyness. Remember that just because you are busy does not mean you are managing your time effectively. Make time to be still and enjoy your surroundings.
Which method do you like best?
Do you have a different way you plan out your day?