Published on March 9, 2021

How To Create An Effective Schedule For Time Management

How To Create An Effective Schedule For Time Management

Are you excited by the fact that you have the same 24-hours in your day as the likes of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey? Or do you find yourself more concerned about the fact that you only have 24-hours in a day to get everything done? There are those who are able to accomplish so much in their day, and there are others who seem to always be running out of time. If you have not achieved the success you seek in life, a great place to start is knowing and improving how you spend your time each day. By learning how to make an effective schedule for time management, you can be sure to focus your time and effort on the tasks that matter to you the most.

1. A Commitment to Your Schedule

The first thing you need to do each day is to make your schedule—know what tasks you have to do and prioritize so you can have a more organized day. Those who have mastered making an effective schedule have made it a way of life, not a way of convenience.

Many people limit their scheduling time to when things already get really bad or when they have the “extra” time. However, you will find that scheduling your day is the best way to ensure that you have the “extra” time you’re looking for.

To decrease the likelihood of procrastinating, make sure that everything you write on your schedule or calendar is something you are committed to completing.[1] By filling your schedule with items you will do, you will have a sense of urgency about adhering to your schedule.


The problem that many people face is that they schedule their ideal day, but most days are not ideal. Each day has unique problems and situations you were not planning to deal with that day. For example, you scheduled time to go to the gym before work, but you had to stay up late the night before working to meet a deadline, or you received an email late the night before about needing to come in early the next day because there was a problem discovered in your report.

When you make an ideal schedule, you look for an ideal day to implement it. That is why you should instead make an honest schedule each day about the things that will be done. These tasks are essential and, therefore, you have to complete them regardless of the unexpected problems that may pop up throughout the day.

2. Find Your Focus

The first step to learning how to make an effective schedule is to spend more time creating time blocks and less time creating to-do lists. When you create a to-do list based on tasks, you run the risk of not completing everything on your list. Despite your best planning efforts, some of the tasks you listed may take longer than anticipated. As a result, you may find that you haven’t completed many of your tasks at the end of the day.

A better approach to effective scheduling is to set blocks of time (time blocks) to complete your most important tasks each day. Instead of listing the tasks you want to complete each day and working on each one until it is completed, you will set a certain amount of time each day to complete the tasks.


For example, you can check and respond to emails from 8:00 am to 8:30 am each day. Then, you can work on a project due later in the week from 8:30 am to 10:30 am. From 10:30 am to noon, you can then work on a different project that you also have to prioritize.

Studies show that time blocking is a more productive way of managing your schedule because you are working in concentrated blocks of time.[2] By grouping similar tasks, you allow yourself to use the same side of your mind, and this is the more ideal approach than frequently switching from your analytical side to your creative side.

3. Say No To “All Work and No Play”

Productivity isn’t the only thing that matters when learning how to make a schedule. It is also important that you leave yourself some time for fun. This is not a contradiction to the idea your schedule should be realistic and not ideal. In fact, this is the secret to making a schedule that works.

Too many people fill their schedule with tasks and professional ambitions that leave them feeling out of balance. Bring balance to your schedule by allotting time for your friends and family. Whether it is as simple as a walk to the park, watching a movie, or playing a board game, make sure that you are leaving some time with those people you enjoy spending time with.


Think of making a balanced schedule as you would think of starting a diet to lose weight. How likely are you to be successful if you restrict your diet to fruits and vegetables? Many studies show that drastically changing your diet usually results in you relapsing back to your previous eating habits and may even cause other health problems.[3] As a result, you run the risk of losing all the gains you previously made.

The same holds true for determining how to make a schedule that’s effective. If you make significant changes to your daily schedule overnight, you run the risk of losing all your gains in a short period of time.

4. Leave Some Time for Yourself

It is vital that you leave time for yourself—and only yourself.[4] Oftentimes, there is a negative stereotype surrounding the idea of being alone. However, alone is where you have a chance to slow things down. Life is always moving at such a fast pace that you may often forget why you are moving in the first place. Allow yourself some alone time to contemplate your motivations, goals, and aspirations.

Humans are blessed above all other creatures with the gift of being conscious of their existence. We know we are living, and we know we are going to die. We can swim upstream or down—just because. We can also fly north or south—again, just because. The problem is that most people do not take advantage of this amazing ability. We fall into patterns and habits and continue to remain in those patterns.


By devoting time to yourself, you give yourself the necessary time to evaluate how you spend your time each day. Don’t fall into the pattern of living a life based on decisions you made years ago that are no longer aligned with your current goals.

Final Thoughts

Making a schedule is more than just writing a list of tasks that you are going to complete each day. It is also about allocating your time in a way that gives you the best opportunity to live a life without regret. You need to allocate your time in a way that increases your productivity while leaving you time for yourself and those you care about.

Take control of your time so your life is more aligned with those you respect and admire. Remember, we all have the same 24-hours in the day, whether you use those 24 hours to create the life of Jeff Bezos or you use those time to create the life of someone who is wasting time. Either way, it is your life, so treat it like the treasure it truly is.

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The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.


From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!


The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.


But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.


Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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