How Planning Your Day Lets You Live in Abundance Instead of Lack.
Frustrated, frazzled, overwhelmed, stressed, adrift, easily distracted, and scattered. If any or all of these describe how you’re feeling even some of the time, then it may be time for you to re-think or develop for the first time a daily schedule. I know that I recently realized that I was feeling all of these things more times than not. No matter what I was doing, I always felt like I should be doing something else. That’s when I realized that my daily schedule needed an overhaul.
If you’re in the same boat, this is definitely no way to live. The constant state of stress it creates is incredibly harmful to our physical and mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re taking a look at what exactly a daily schedule is and how planning your day lets you live with a sense of abundance instead of lack.
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What is a Daily Schedule?
A daily schedule is a detailed plan for your day or week that aligns with the various roles and goals that you have. If one of your goals is to be healthy but you can’t find a minute to exercise, you probably need to adjust the time that you’re devoting to other activities so that your plan for your day does a better job of reflecting your overall goals.
A daily schedule not only reflects what needs to be done, but when it’s going to be done. The key word there is when. I’m notorious for filling up a “to do list” with everything that my brain spews out and then getting frustrated when I don’t get it all done. The problem with this approach is that on most days, there would be no realistic way to get everything I have on my list done. Having a general plan for when things are going to get done lets me see what is realistic to expect from myself and the time available in my day.
Why is a Daily Schedule Important?
A daily schedule is important because it allows us to live with a sense of abundance instead of lack when it comes to our time. Letting my unrealistic expectations carry over from day to day fills me with an ever-present sense of lack because I never feel like I have enough time. Jory Mackay writes for RescueTime that “Knowing what you’re meant to be doing (and when) creates a sense of purpose, meaning and focus. It helps you avoid procrastination, stay motivated and properly manage your time.” In other words, it lets you live in abundance or feel like you do have the time that you need to not just get by but to thrive.
I look at a daily schedule as a budget for my time. It’s a blueprint that lets me have more control over how I spend my time as opposed to letting the days just slip by with no real meaning or direction. That’s not to say that a hefty “to do list” gives our lives meaning. But it is to say that if we don’t have at least a general plan for our days, we run the risk of not using our time in an efficient or meaningful way for achieving our goals and for successfully filling our various roles.
My schedule also assures me that I am doing what I should be doing for that time. If I’m watching TV at 8pm, I don’t need to feel like I should be doing something else because that’s the time marked as “relax” on my schedule. No guilt, no distraction; nothing but relaxing.
General Strategies to Help You Create a Daily Schedule
Here are some general strategies to help you create a daily schedule. Please note that I said general because one size definitely does not fit all. At the same time, there’s no sense in feeling like you have to reinvent the wheel because these are tried and true strategies that can serve as a good place to start.
Sync your weekly and daily schedule with your menstrual cycle
Read In the Flo by Alisa Vitti to find out why and how to do this. Every day is not created equal for women. The sooner you learn to adapt your schedule to your cycle, the happier and more productive you’ll be.
List the categories of your life into buckets
- This could include work, self-care, family activities, volunteer work, home projects, relaxation, etc. It’s much easier and effective to do this if you have a clear vision of what your goals and priorities are. That way, you can make sure that your buckets align with those. You’ll notice that I included self-care, time to relax and time with kids or spouse as separate buckets. These are critical areas of your life that deserve a place on your schedule. If you just have them on a “to do list” but don’t have a specific time indicating when you’ll do them, these are the things that are easiest to forgo if you feel like time is getting tight.
- Determine whether any of your buckets have to have specific time slots allotted to them every day or at specific regular times during the week and block off those times.
- Determine how much time you need for the other buckets and where you can devote time to those. Todoist suggests that it’s best to follow the time blocking method where you have a chunk of time devoted to each bucket. At its most basic, that could look something like this.
*** Be sure and allow time for travel from place to place if necessary for activities or commuting to and from work.
Determine what your regular wake up and bed time will be
The most important component of determining what your regular wakeup and bed times will be is figuring out how much sleep you need to be at your best. Use that and your list of specific time slot buckets to figure out your usual time for waking up and going to bed. This may change every now and then depending on what you have going on, but for the most part, these should be about the same time every day and night.
Put all of your buckets into a schedule for the week and see how they fit
Putting all of your buckets into a schedule lets you see how realistic your expectations for each day and week are. If you’re finding that you simply can’t fit it all in, it may be time to re-evaluate your goals and priorities for that specific time in your life. Entrepreneur and Business Coach Jenny Melrose advises ranking tasks on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being the most important) for how they align with what your goals and vision are. Remember, do not plan to sacrifice sleep to make room for other things.
Plan out your week every weekend
I try to plan out my week every Sunday afternoon. Since I run my own business, I include both work and personal time because if I’m not intentional about it, work would take over all available time.
I take my basic time blocked schedule and start fitting in the time specific activities, meetings and appointments that I know I’ll have into the blocks for each priority bucket. If it’s something that doesn’t fit into one of my buckets, I need to think carefully about whether it belongs in my schedule. Then, I go through and fill in the other tasks that I know I need or want to do for the week and fit those into the appropriate buckets.
While the end result is a detailed plan for the week, I know that I have to allow flexibility for things to come up because they will. That’s just a fact of life. I also have a general idea for where I can move things around if needed. The goal of a daily schedule is not to restrict our lives; it’s to make it more expansive by making sure that we’re doing the things that work toward our vision and goals.
Revisit Your Daily Schedule Multiple Times a Year
If you find that life feels like it’s getting out of control or that your schedule just isn’t working for you, revisit it. You’ll probably have to do this several times a year with the change in seasons, school and work schedules. Life is not stagnant, and your schedule shouldn’t be either.
Tools and Resources
- In the Flo by Alisa Vitti
- LifeBook. I can’t recommend this FREE resource by Jon and Missy Butcher highly enough. It is a fantastic tool for figuring out what you want out of what they call the 12 key dimensions of your life and how to achieve it. While they don’t talk specifically about daily schedules, they do talk about how to allot your time and energy to achieving the life you want to live. Afterall, that’s ultimately what a daily schedule is for.
- The best paper planners.
- The best planner apps. I love todoist and then use Google Calendar for my master calendar.