5 Scheduling Tips to Help You Organize Your Life Like a Boss
How to make a schedule and stick to it – no, seriously this time
There are two types of people in the world: those who run on a strictly organized schedule, perpetually on time, and never caught unaware by due dates or social obligations, and the rest of us. The rest of us are familiar with those in the first group – we may even envy them a little – but it seems slightly unattainable in our own lives.
Those people probably don’t even have a pile of “to-do” paperwork lying around in plain sight, and there probably isn’t even one stray sock in their purse – don’t ask how that got there. Let’s face it, they’d do terribly on that part of “Let’s Make a Deal” where the host gives you a prize for having a drugstore receipt from 2006 or a punch card for a sub shop that went out of business seven years ago. We’ll always have them beat there.
It’s OK if you’re not on top of organization. That’s why you’re here, right? In this article, we’ll discuss:
- Writing down your schedule and keeping it where you can see it, because trust us, this really works
- Making decisions about meals, clothing, and other daily choices in advance
- Adding structure to your day with a consistent routine
- Starting small by incorporating easy-to-achieve habits
- Finding a scheduling technique that works for your personality
With that being said, knowing how your day, week, or month will go seems so peaceful. Not making a late-night trip to Walmart to buy science fair supplies for a project that’s due tomorrow. That sounds like nirvana (the spiritual state, not the band).
However, mastering your schedule apparently involves more work than just buying notebooks and planners, which is unfortunate. Learn how the how and why of creating a schedule you can stick to with the following tips and tricks.
- Visualize your days
OK, first for the good news. You’re not too far off track with your penchant for buying planners. Writing stuff down is a key component to actually accomplishing it. The problems start when you fail to check the planner.
So, make sure your planner is prominently displayed in a place where you’ll see it every single day. Not only will this make it easier to keep track of upcoming events, but it also ensures that you’ll update it as time goes on. Creating a written and easily viewable schedule creates some personal accountability when it comes to sticking to it.
- Make up your mind
We make a lot of decisions throughout the day, and as the hours progress and tasks accumulate, we simply get tired of doing so. Avoid decision fatigue by narrowing down your choices or planning ahead.
Whether it’s creating a capsule wardrobe of mix and match choices or a detailed meal list for each week, reducing the need to make decisions frees up your energy for more worthy pursuits. It’s also easier to make better choices when you’re not affected by extenuating circumstances. You know what we’re talking about.
- Create a daily routine
You know how you drive home from work each day in a semi-automatic state? Sure, you’re paying attention, but you’re not using much mental energy to find your way back to your house because you’ve done it so many times it just feels natural. Your schedule will eventually feel the same way if you set up a general routine that you follow every day.
From making breakfast to laying out your clothes the night before, repetition creates habits and habits become a routine. Figure out which actions will improve your life and assign them a daily time slot. Reducing your cognitive load makes it easier to operate on autopilot.
- Start small
Every once in a while, we get a burst of motivation or energy and decide to change ALL THE THINGS. Well, guess what? If you could revise your entire life for the better all at once, you wouldn’t need advice on self-improvement – we all suffer from human limitations, unfortunately.
Begin with baby steps; incorporate one new habit into your daily schedule until it becomes routine and then pat yourself on the back and add another. Getting organized is a marathon, not a sprint – pace yourself to avoid fatigue.
- Find what works
There are a lot of different options when it comes to creating and keeping a schedule, and the success of each depends on your personality. Experiment with the following:
- The MIT method: The MIT stands for Most Important Task, and it’s just what it sounds like – identify one to three of the most important things on your to-do list and tackle those first. That doesn’t mean you’ll only accomplish three tasks each day, but it does give you the focus to prioritize them. Sometimes small successes lead to the momentum that carries through the rest of your to-do list.
- 90-minute focus cycles: Even the most scheduled, organized, and energized among us has limited resources to work with throughout the day. Arrange your schedule around periods of productivity, followed by a break. In this example, it’s a 90-minute chunk of work followed by a 20-minute break. Sometimes it’s easier to focus when you know you’ll be catching up on your social media notifications soon
- Time blocking: Although it involves a detailed level of planning, time blocking can increase your overall productivity and provide structure to your days. Sit down with your schedule and assign your tasks to dedicated blocks of time. Don’t forget to plan for the unexpected and include time to rest, relax, and have fun. Sometimes having a strict itinerary makes it easier to stay on task because your time is already accounted for, and you know exactly which tasks will fall through the cracks if you don’t stick to the plan.
Creating a schedule and actually following it is possible with a little bit of patience, a realistic outlook, and an ongoing commitment to making and updating a plan. Start adding helpful habits and structure to each day and lead a more peaceful and empowered life – you’ll love yourself for it later.
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