Having an ENFP side to me which is a bit more spontaneous and carefree, I’ve always found it difficult to commit to a daily schedule. I can follow a travel itinerary down to the last minute, but for everyday life? Nah. I’d find myself sleeping in or just watching something on Netflix.
Just this month though, I’ve realized the importance of committing to a daily schedule. I’ve been feeling unproductive and unfocused, but June gave me a 180-degree turn! Having a fixed schedule daily helped me to put some rhythm into my days that my body can get used to.
Here are some tips if you are trying to commit to a schedule:
1. Understand yourself. It was not just a matter of drafting a schedule and then following it immediately. I had many iterations of my daily schedule before finding the right fit. I spent some time (1-2 weeks) trying to gauge my energy level throughout the day to know how to arrange my daily tasks. I moved my activities around depending on how they worked for me until I came up with something that feels natural and closer to my center. Do you start slow, or are you more energized in the morning? It might be a bad idea to schedule a personal study time during the time of day when your brain dozes off.
2. Start well. Regardless of energy spikes, I’ve found that it’s really important to start my day with some quiet time and exercise. Spending time in the Word grounds me for the rest of the day, so I make sure to spend 30-45 minutes on it, then I do some cardio while watching an episode of Gossip Girl, which I’ve discovered is a good energizer because of the show’s snappy pace.
3. Get enough sleep. I observed myself for two weeks and realized that I need 6-8 hours to function well and not get cranky at the slightest inconvenience. Try it out. Don’t set your alarm for a week, and just let your body wake up when it decides to do so. Check for a trend, and you’ll find your natural sleep duration. Once you have it set, discipline yourself to sleep on time such that you will get your full sleep cycle. This may mean getting off of Facebook or turning off the TV despite the attractive pull of AJ Kapa.
4. Have only one calendar. I am a proponent of this mainly because of the learning I got during a Work-Life Balance training when I was starting out in the corporate world. We were taught that we only have ONE BODY and ONE SELF which should translate into ONE CALENDAR. This has been key to my being able to manage my many responsibilities, as I only have one place to look at to know where I should be by when. It lessens the chance for double-booking, and easily shows you possible schedule conflicts.
5. Set timeboxes for your tasks. Timeboxing is the most effective time management method for me because of how natural and simple it is, and because of how it caters to my short attention span. Rather than working on tasks until they’re done, I commit certain blocks of time for a task/group of tasks. For example, I set 30 minutes everyday to get church tasks done. This allows me to get things done slowly but surely (in chunks) if I have a big task for the week, or get all the small stuff done in one sitting if I just have a lot of minor tasks to complete.
6. Schedule in your meals and leisure time. This will help you be disciplined with your use of social media, and will also help you have something to look forward to after being such a disciplined person for hours. Rewarding yourself with chill time will invigorate you especially when you feel pressured with your full schedule.
7. Align your daily schedule with your life goals. If you have something that you are aiming for this year (we’ll talk about yearly personal planning in a future post), make sure that you fit it in your calendar. I personally have a goal this year to write more, to be more active, and to pass my PMP exam. Because of that, I have time in my daily schedule to blog, and exercise, and read my PMP reviewer. Your schedule should not put you on autopilot, but should help drive you to be what you want to be.
8. Be easy on yourself. Unable to follow your schedule for some days? Relax. No one’s checking! Don’t use your one or two off days as a reason to skip following a schedule altogether. I myself have been feeling so thrown off since Wednesday since my wisdom tooth extraction changed up what I can/cannot do and even my sleep pattern. I just accepted the fact that I had to give my sched a break for now and that I can resume on Monday once I’m fully recovered. See, that’s quite easy.
Now go ahead and put some structure in your life 😉