Schedules. What a topic. It’s a huge one. There are so many variations. So many questions. Can you make one? Even more importantly, can you KEEP one? Last week I wrote about WHY you should make and keep a schedule. This week is about HOW to make and keep a schedule.
Schedules – How to Make
There are so many ways to make a schedule. But the first thing you need to do before making one is to figure out what you need (want) to get accomplished during your day. Your week. Your month.
The means to accomplish that first thing is a brain dump. A brain dump is where you take all the things you have running around in your brain and put it onto paper. This does two important things: First, this gets it out of your brain so you won’t keep worrying about it (I wrote a book review on a book all about that subject, here). Second, it gets it onto paper so you can SEE what you need to do.
The next step is to put it all together. You need to do this before you prioritize what’s the most important (remember, there can be NO ties). I say putting it all together before prioritizing because you need to get all your like tasks together. Sometimes many things from the brain dump are a part of the same over all project. These need to be grouped together so you can see it all. Then you can prioritize what it is you are needing to get done.
Another step in the HOW of making schedules is to work out what type of schedule you wish to do. Do you want something as simple as checklists? Or would you prefer to set aside work blocks?
My Timothy and I schedule out work blocks. First thing in the morning we figure out what needs to be done for the day (Ideally, we’ve already worked out our week on Saturday). Then we schedule it out by what is the most important getting done in the first work block of the day. Our work blocks consist of 50 minutes each. This is how you stay focused on one project that needs doing and then take a break before mindfully getting started on the next task of the day.
Putting it all together:
This is where you think about the big picture. Do what absolutely NEEDS to get done. If it’s not time sensitive (IE appointment) then it’s best to put it in the first work block of the day. Or if you are keeping a simple checklist, put it first! Some people like to start with something big, where as others prefer to get the easiest things done first. I say, do whatever will help YOU keep your momentum going. If getting something big will help you feel accomplished and make you want to continue, go for it. By the same token, if getting a lot of little things off your plate helps you, do that first. Just remember to always complete your MOST important next step first.
One last thing, if you are putting together a schedule for your work day, make sure to put in a last little work block at the end of your day. This is so there won’t be any rushing around after it’s quitting time getting those last messages out and calls made. This is helping you to be purposeful about your day.
Schedules – How to Keep
There are so many ways to do this. You can look at it as in making a new habit. Or perhaps look at it as breaking an OLD habit! But whatever reason, first figure out the REAL reason it didn’t work before. This is, of course, only going to work if you have tried to stick with a schedule before and it just didn’t work out.
Habits or Schedules?
Some aspects of keeping schedules is simply forming habits. To help with keeping schedules, pick items that work together – that will reinforce one another. Plan them. Make rituals out of some.
An example of the last few suggestions is how to keep making a schedule. My Timothy and I are creatures of habit. We get up in the morning and have to take the dog out (he) and make the bed (me), and get the hot water started (whoever thinks of it first). Then My Timothy usually makes us our cups of hot cocoa, which reminds us to take our morning vitamins/pills. Next we gather our scheduling materials and sit down together. This kicks in the reminder to have our couple’s prayer. Finally, we get to plan out our morning. The one drawback to this is when we don’t follow the first thing, such as when one of us is sick and just doesn’t feel like getting out of bed first thing….
Keep that momentum
It’s amazing when you can stay ahead of what you’ve got on your plate for the day. It feels great when I complete a work block and find out that I actually have 20 minutes of it left. I can then get started on the next task. Keeping ahead of the game feels fantastic!
I know that as you keep making schedules. As you keep staying on track with your schedules, you are going to feel good about yourself. You’re going to feel accomplished. You will feel more peace as your nagging complaints and to-do lists are whittled down. Place them on paper and out of your mind. As you find the peace and serenity you crave by this simple change, it will be easy to keep that momentum going of making and keeping schedules!