Inside: How to create a schedule that works for you so you can get more done without losing your mind.
I’m a lot of things. I’m creative. I’m kind. I’m fun. I’m also the kind of person that can Get. Things. Done.
And even though I’m good at accomplishing tasks and making things happen around here, I still struggle with staying on task and using my time efficiently.
Let’s just say effective time management strategies haven’t come naturally. But I’m learning to master time management by simply creating a schedule that works for me.
I tend to get very distracted. There’s a reason my husband calls me Phil Dunphy.
So when it comes to effective scheduling and staying organized, what works best for me is just getting it down. As in, writing.
Sounds super simple, right?
Because it is.
When I’m on the go and have random thoughts pop up like “I need to schedule the dog to be boarded!” Or, “Oh crap, I still haven’t bought school supplies!” then I will type these up real quick on my notes app.
But when it’s time to get serious about getting things done and managing my time effectively, I write down my schedule and my tasks. On paper.
I seriously have to write things down not only so I don’t forget, but so I stay focused. I simply cannot just do the things without having them written down.
If I try to wing it, then I always end up forgetting something because I’m distracted by my busy mind.
If you struggle like me, then creating and following a schedule is the best way to use your time as efficiently as possible.
Following a schedule helps you meet deadlines, stay focused, and even keep appointments.
Do you want to know how many appointments I’ve spaced?
I’ve stood my hairstylist up three times. Most recently, I missed my appointment with my new therapist. (Because I didn’t have it written down. I had it plugged into my calendar app at the wrong time.)
Luckily, they are both kind and understanding of my struggles.
If you aren’t used to scheduling your time, following a schedule can be challenging to get used to.
Here are some tips to creating a schedule, being efficient with your time, and staying organized.
Make a To-Do List
I admit it. I’m a list junkie. I love lists. They make me feel so in control of life. Especially since I’m a hot mess by nature.
The first thing to consider is what you want to accomplish. Whether it’s for the week of just for the day, or both, make a list of everything you need to get done.
Then, decide how much time you need for each item and use this to create your schedule. One piece of advice I have – don’t pile on!
I often have to hold myself back a bit when I make my list because my anxious mind starts rattling more and more and more until I want to go back and crawl under the covers.
Don’t add so much to your list that you can’t accomplish what’s on it without feeling major overwhelm. Cut yourself some slack and be reasonable, here. Only put down what you think you can realistically accomplish in that timeframe.
Schedule your most high-priority tasks first and work everything else in around them.
Use a Planner
It’s helpful to record all of your to-do’s, commitments and appointments in one place, like a planner.
You can go digital and use an app or go old-school and use a physical planner.
If you want to give it a try now – download this free weekly planning sheet.
No matter what you choose, when you create a schedule it’s important to use the same planner for everything. This way, everything you have to do will be in the same place and easy to access.
Using one system should help you avoid conflicts, eliminate additional stress, and hopefully keep you from forgetting and missing appointments, commitments, and things you have to get done.
Keep it Real
It’s easy to overwhelm yourself with too many to-do’s. Especially in a world where we feel like we “have to do it all.”
But you know what? You don’t! You don’t have to do it all!
It’s great to be ambitious, but don’t overcommit yourself and create a schedule that you can’t keep.
Remember, we’re talking about being efficient with time. That means maximizing your time, but also being effective. And you can’t be effective if you’re rushing like you’re in a race.
Be reasonable with your expectations of yourself.
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time for each task on your schedule, but also between appointments.
And by all means, allow yourself some breaks and downtime.
You won’t be nearly as effective if you wear yourself out.
In fact, when you are creating your schedule, make sure you add in some self-care and some “you” time.
If you aren’t in the habit of creating a schedule to effectively manage your time, you might fall off after a few days or even a few weeks.
So, if you want to develop the habit of staying organized (which is hard for some of us) you have to be consistent to make it stick.
It’s like any good habit, you have to work to develop it.
Expect the Unexpected
I think we can all agree that we all have lots of days when things don’t go according to plan.
For me, the day that I have blocked out to get a lot accomplished is the day something typically goes wrong:
My daughter wakes up sick or an unexpected home repair pops up, and it’s not one that can wait.
Try not to be stressed out when these things happen. (And they will happen.)
Just be prepared to make adjustments when you need to. Over the years I’ve learned to take a deep breath and tell myself to “go with the flow.” Because sometimes, that’s all you can do.
Once you’ve addressed the unexpected, you can get back to your schedule.
For a lot of us, managing our time doesn’t come easy. I’m one of those people. It’s hard. There are so many distractions.
But following these tips can help you get started scheduling your time effectively.
And remember this. There’s no perfect way to do this. It comes down to personal preference.
Just getting started is probably the hardest part of creating a schedule. But once you get in the habit of scheduling everything, you’ll find it gets easier and becomes second nature.
Give it a try. Download these planner pages for and create a schedule that keeps you on track.