Today I am going to talk about how you can learn to streamline your life, use your time efficiently, and make time for all of those things you have been saying you want to do like exercising or starting that new hobby, or cooking healthy meals etc.
Since starting graduate school I always felt like I was in a rush because I was so busy, I was hesitant to make plans with friends because I wasn’t sure how late I would be working on any particular day, I also stopped exercising and felt like I didn’t have time to prep healthy meals, I would often end up spending money eating out and eating subpar food. Also, during my free time I was always thinking about what I had to do next and I felt that work was always on my mind, even in my free time or while spending time with my fiancé. My life felt out of control and I was sinking into depression. Something had to change!
Learning how to properly schedule my life has truly changed my life and if the above sounds anything like you, it can probably change your life too! In fact, scheduling my life has been one of the most freeing things I have learned how to do. To-do lists, while useful for some things, don’t cut it alone. If you put things on a list it is so easy to tell yourself you will do them tomorrow. If they are on your schedule, then you make yourself accountable to follow through and you force yourself to find time for them!
Without further ado I am going to give you a step by step guide on how to make a schedule that you can stick to.
- If you haven’t done this yet: Sign up for Google Calendar, it is free!
- If you have a significant other, consider getting them to do this with you, you will be more likely to stick with it if the people who are close to you are on board
- Schedule in the recurring things you need to do first: Start with sleep and wakeup times. Then add in when you need to work.
- For example: I need 8hrs of sleep a day to function properly, so I decided I would go to sleep at 11pm on weekdays and wake up at 7am.
- I need to get to work between 9-9:30am so I can leave by 5.
- Some people have variable work schedules from week to week (I will get to how to handle this later in the post)
- Schedule recurring events to automatically repeat on your calendar
- You can do this by clicking on the even in our calendar, clicking the edit button
- Below the event title and time and date is a box that you can check next to have this event repeat, click the Edit link to decide whether you want it to repeat weekly, daily, yearly etc.
- Pick one weekend day to schedule in things you need to do to make your week ahead run smoothly. I chose Sunday afternoons for this and included the following things on my schedule
- Grocery shopping for the week
- Prepping all meals for the week ahead of time so I don’t have to cook during the week and to ensure I eat healthy. (In the future I will write a blog post about how to do meal prep Sundays)
- Think about and write down your priorities and some of the things you would like to find time to do. Some of these things might include:
- Cooking healthy meals
- Calling your mom
- Dates with your husband
- Laundry Days
- Grocery shopping
- Free time
- Figure out where you will fit these things into your schedule
- I realized that the only time that I would consistently be able to go to the gym was M,W, and F mornings before work (otherwise I ran the risk of having to stay late and missing my workout)
- Be realistic with yourself and account for travel times.
- Give yourself some time to wind down before bed.
- Account for the time it takes to get ready in the morning
- Don’t overwhelm yourself by scheduling in everything you have ever wanted to do all at once, you can always add in new things later once you are used to your schedule.
- You can schedule in free time. For example, my husband and I don’t schedule out our Saturdays
- Schedule in time once a week to work on the parts of your week that are variable every week
- I scheduled in an hour every Monday morning to work on the variable parts of my schedule. (If I didn’t schedule time to schedule, I wouldn’t do it)
- For example: the tasks I have to do at work are different every day so I have to schedule what I have to do and when I will do them at work every week.
- If your work start and end times vary every week, you may have to put a little more thought every week into how you will arrange your free time around work but it is totally worth it to make sure you make time for the things that will make you happy!
- To help make it easier, have a list of the things you want to fit in every week with you when you are setting up your work schedule for the week and schedule them in whenever you are not working
- If you get invited to anything or see an event you want to go to, add it to your calendar immediately so you don’t forget
- Make a habit of checking your calendar at the beginning of every day.
- Now that you have made a schedule, stick to it! Remember that you made this schedule for a reason: so you can have peace of mind, so your week will go smoothly and so that you can make time for the things you see as priorities!
- You can have some flexibility, for example if your best friends birthday party is on Sunday but that is normally your prep for the week day, maybe you can prep for the week Saturday instead that week, just make sure you are for the most
Scheduling out your week helps you realize how valuable your time is. It prevents you from lying to yourself, telling yourself that you will find time tomorrow. It forces you to confront your priorities and to decide what you want to make time for and what things you might not actually want to make a priority in your schedule. It forces you to take the abstract to-do list in your head and put it into a concrete framework that you can actually work with.
Now that I have been scheduling out my life for the last month, I feel happier and more productive. Scheduling my life has actually been surprisingly very freeing for me. I can focus on the present moment instead of always thinking about what I need to do next because I know that it is on my schedule and I will get to the next task when I get to it. I also have been eating healthier and I have time for exercise and starting a new hobby (this blog). I am very much appreciating the peace of mind that scheduling has brought to my life and I hope that this guide will help you too!