How to Take Control of Your Schedule for Good
Do you ever feel like your schedule controls you? We all know that time is money, time is precious, and time is something you don’t get back.
However, why does it seem like we never have time, especially in our schedule? The entire point of having a schedule is so that you can better manage your time, not so your schedule can manage you.
Recently, there seems to have been a revival of using day planners to better keep track of all our everyday duties. But does a day planner really help? Does it matter if you keep track of your schedule on your phone or on paper? Does it matter how cute or encouraging your planner is? No!
So often we feel as if our day has been derailed when something unexpected pops up or when a task takes much longer than we anticipate. In fact, many times it’s easy to look at the clock and realize the entire day has gone by and you haven’t completed half of the things you had hoped for. That is extremely frustrating!
It doesn’t help that we live in a society where everything is fast-paced, overwhelming, and everyone always seems behind.
That’s why it’s time to break the cycle and take control of your schedule once and for all. It will take work, it will take practice, and it will likely take a little tweaking around. But the good news is that it can absolutely be done.
Let’s dive into how to take control of your schedule for good!
Eat the frog
There is a quote by Mark Twain that says “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first” Mark Twain.
It’s a silly quote but has a lot of meaning to it.
Basically, it comes down to the things you want to do in a day and the things that you don’t want to do. Often times we have more things that we don’t want to do than things that we do. The message behind Twain’s quote tells you to pick the thing you want to do the least and then do it first.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to my day job and not wanted to do a big task that was waiting for me. In the past, I’d leave that task for days and days. Since discovering this quote a little while back I have changed my ways.
Now I eat the frog first thing in the morning. Many times I find out that the task I’ve been avoiding was really not that bad after all.
Set social media limits
It is so hard to break from the habit of looking at social media apps. I for one definitely struggle with this. Lately, I’ve taken a more proactive approach to do something about this problem.
I know that it would be hard for most people to quit using social media cold turkey, and I’m not suggesting that. However, In order to take control of your schedule, you need to remove the thing that distracts you the most.
Chances are social media distracts you more than anything else during your day. What I recommend is if you don’t have the will power or you’re not strong enough to quit altogether then set a limit for yourself.
Smartphones make it so easy to set time limits through the system settings in your phone for how long you can spend on an app. Currently, I have a 15 minute per day timer set for my Instagram app. As soon as I’ve used up my 15 minutes I close the app and ignored it for the rest of the day.
This might sound difficult, but trust me when I say my schedule is more successful when I don’t have social media distracting me 24/7.
Set a time to stop working
Our day should not be ending with emails and paperwork. If you are constantly on the go from morning till night that means your schedule is controlling you.
Now, I get it.
There are deadlines to meet, there is a business to hustle for, and there’s tons of work to be done, but this doesn’t mean you should work yourself nonstop.
I’ll admit that I used to be guilty of this. I would work until the very minute before I went to bed. But that left my schedule running wild.
It’s easy to set a task to complete at 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 or even 10:00 at night. Instead, let this be bedtime. Set a time for you to completely put away your laptop, to stop checking your emails, and just relax.
Task batching is a lifesaver for schedules. You might already task batch certain things, but have you tried it with really simple activities?
For example, try batching your emails. Set a specific time each day to check your emails. This helps you avoid going through your email multiple times a day and taking up unnecessary time in your schedule.
Another example of batching tasks is meal prepping. While cooking every night might seem ideal, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour to do. Instead, pick one or two days a week to meal prep for a few days at a time. This is a huge timesaver for your schedule.
Another example of batching a task is running errands. It wastes time to go grocery shopping one day and then the next day go to the store and buy your toiletries. Instead, try to do all your errands in one afternoon. This can also help you so that you aren’t running around every single day.
Regardless of how you batch tasks, it is a great way to take control of your schedule for good.
Take items off of your to-do list
Overstuffing your schedule will only lead to overwhelm. It might seem counterproductive to do fewer things in a day but trust me, if you want to take control of your schedule for good then you need to make sure you can accomplish the things on your schedule.
It’s important to be realistic with the amount of time you have in a single day and the amount of time a task will take you to complete. However, the reason why so many people have no control over their schedule is because they’re packing it full with tasks they won’t get to any single day.
Instead of overstuffing your list, consider having no more than three items on your schedule. If you have a task that will take a really long time, make that the only thing that you have to do.
The goal is to get things done not let the list pile up.
Write down even thing in your calendar
Don’t just write down the meeting that you have with your boss next week. Your calendar is meant to hold all of your tasks.
Write down the lunch plans you have with your college roommate, the dentist appointment you have, the day you want to go grocery shopping that week, the day you need to pay your bills, and more! Your calendar isn’t just for the really important things.
Put your mundane activities there so you have a realistic look at how busy you are. By knowing all of the tasks that you actually have to do from most important to least important will make it more realistic to schedule out your day.
Remember not all tasks are created equally
One of the reasons we are so busy is because we are trying to do everything.
Sometimes it’s a nice reminder that we can’t actually do everything and we shouldn’t.
There are tasks that we put in our day that are completely useless. Or, we put tasks in our schedule that are not nearly as important as something else. I tend to want to do the fun task even if I have a more difficult one to accomplish. Again, this is where eating the frog really comes in handy.
But, the difference is eating the frog is usually a very important task. What about the other ones? Are they just as important? Maybe they can wait until the next month. Or, maybe they could be removed from your schedule entirely.
The point is if you want to take control of your schedule for good you need to know when certain tasks are unnecessary or wasting your time.