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Published on March 9, 2021

How To Create An Effective Schedule For Time Management

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

More Tips on How to Make an Effective Schedule

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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Reference

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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