6 Steps to a Daily Schedule (& How I Created Mine)
Today we get to talk about a very fun topic - creating a daily schedule! I know, that actually doesn't sound fun at all, but creating a daily schedule is a key part of achieving your goals. It's where you can be sure you not only focus on your work during work hours, but that you also schedule in things like exercise and fun! By creating a daily schedule you'll make sure you include the things you love and want to work on everyday & every week.
I'm going to walk you through some steps and tips for creating an effective daily schedule. First you need to decide what medium you're going to use. I prefer to put my daily schedule on my google calendar. You might find that strange, since I create paper planners and use them everyday, but I like having the flexibility that a digital plan allows and having notifications pop up on my phone telling me when it's time to switch activities.
Step 1: Write down everything you need to do every day.
Things like check email, drive to work, etc. Whatever you need to do daily & the time.
Step 2: Write down everything you need to do each week.
Whether or not they have specific times/days. So you need to do laundry and meal prep weekly at some point, and then you have a team meeting every Monday at 2pm. Write everything and the time/day if applicable.
*Tip: You may want to take a week and simply write down everything you do and the amount of time it takes - this will help you create a more accurate schedule.
Step 3: Write down your goals & What you need to do to achieve them.
If you want to have an awesome garden, you'll need to tend the garden sometime on the weekend and then water every night. If you want to be healthier you'll need to meal prep/plan and workout x times a week.
Step 4: Start messing around with your schedule.
This is why I like using a digital format, even if eventually you move to a paper version. Start with the things that have definite times, like your daily commute and that Monday team meeting. These things will anchor your other events. Once those are filled in, start putting in things that must get done but are more flexible in timing. Maybe you always have to send in sales reports by Thursday so you put in a block to work on them Wednesday afternoon. I use block scheduling every day (see my previous post about Block Scheduling for more info) as well as a block of time to work on that day's 'to dos'. I like this combo because it allows me to get those small things done but also have that day dedicated to a major task so I'm more productive. Think about how you want your day to look and what kind of energy you have at that time. And don't worry, you can change things up later.
*Tip: Be realistic about the times it takes to do tasks. You probably can't get through your email in 10 minutes. Schedule checking email at the beginning and end of the day and give it a substantial chunk of time. You can always adjust as you see fit.
*Tip: Schedule in a small chunk each day for a 'wrap up'. This is where you'll tidy your workspace, do any backups, and in general get things ready to go the next day. I like to do a small daily wrap up, a weekly wrap up (where I do things like file papers, scan docs & receipts, clean up any of the weeks projects, write down stats, and give myself a clean slate for Monday), and I do a monthly wrap up that includes more goal reflection and planning. Keeping things in check like this will prevent you from needing to take frequent chunks of time to file months of papers or clean up your digital file system.
Step 5: Adjust your daily schedule for those one-off events.
Weddings, concerts, travelling hockey tournaments - these are things that can really mess up your system if you don't plan around them ahead of time. As I write this I'm actually visiting my parents, so I had to change my schedule to not only reflect the fact that I won't be home, but also that I'll be out in the afternoon with my mom, that I won't have all my work stuff, that I needed time to drive there and back, and time to pack and unpack. Adjust your daily schedule to accommodate these events so you don't have to worry about all the things you need to do or should be doing - enjoy your time knowing that you've already done what you need or you've scheduled in time after to finish your to dos.
*Tip: Don't be afraid of being flexible! When you create a daily schedule, you become very aware of where your time is going - so it should be no big deal to switch things around so that you can go to that concert or half-price sushi Monday. You control your schedule, not the other way around.
Step 6: Try it out and adjust as needed.
Now just try it out! It's very unlikely you get it 100% on your first try, so after a week or a month reflect back - did you give yourself enough time for certain activities? Do you actually not need as much time doing something as you thought? Tweak and adjust as you need and try again. Once you find a rhythm you like you'll feel not only more productive but more in charge of how your time is spent (even if you're work isn't something you have a say over). Remember, you have the same hours in a day as Beyonce, it's all about how you spend them.
Finally, I just want to say that you don't need to schedule your day to be productive - I find it useful because otherwise I easily end up doing one thing all day, not getting any of my other things done (hello sink full of dishes), and getting burned out quickly.
Below I'm sharing a few glimpses of my daily schedule in the order of how I built it.
Do you have a daily schedule? What do you implement to keep you on track? Let me know in the comments!