Some people may go on and on about how schedules or routines don’t allow for creativity or spontaneity – and that may certainly be true in some circumstances. However in overall situations, people who don’t follow a schedule are prone to miss appointments, procrastinate, live or work in an disorganized environment, and haphazardly complete assignments. It’s a complete formula for disaster. If you want to succeed however, you must understand the value of following a schedule – one that dictates dates and times that will enable you arrive on time, complete tasks at hand, and be prepared for additional accomplishments.

So how do you begin to follow a schedule? The first thing that you can do is ask pertinent questions to make sure that you understand the schedule that you’ve been given. For some people, following a schedule is a simple matter of doing the things listed on an itemized task list. For others however, additional details may enable them to streamline a schedule or fully incorporate a schedule into other areas of life. For example, you might want to ask which items on the schedule are the highest priority or what items on the schedule can be postponed or substituted with other things.

Once you’ve obtained all the information you need, you may need to adjust some activities in your life that aren’t even related to your schedule. Not all of these activities are time-wasters, as you might suspect – they simply need to be rearranged. For example, if you’ve been accustomed to taking a two-hour lunch break, you may need to shorten that activity to only one hour or half an hour so that you can accomplish other things that are on your schedule. If you’ve been accustomed to shopping on Saturday mornings, you might need to move that activity to Sunday evenings so that you can fill the early Saturday morning hour with research at the library.

You should also remember that not all schedules are set in stone – they can be adjusted to make room for additional tasks or tasks that take a longer or shorter amount of time to accomplish than what was originally. With experience, asking the right questions, and a little rearrangement, you will have a schedule that you can confidently follow knowing that it leads you to easily accomplish the things that are important to you.

Nicole Miller is a developer and member of the Association of Shareware Professionals.

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