Welcome back to 31 Days to Less Stress! Happy Halloween! I can’t believe it is already the end of October. Continuing the trend of discussing planning on Fridays, today, we are going to talk about creating a schedule that works for you.
So far this month, we have talked about the importance of having a plan, evaluating it’s effectiveness, creating routines, and not over-planning. In reality, a plan is only as good as it is beneficial. If you spend time planning only to create an unusable outcome, then your time has just been wasted, and it isn’t going to help cut down on your stress.
Here are a few steps you can take to create a schedule that works for you:
1. Pick a format that you can easily work with.
Do you work best with a written schedule or a digital one? Digital schedules have the benefit of being able to create reminders and alerts. You can also often color code them with ease. Written schedules can sometimes give you more flexibility with being able to visually take in more than the screen of your smart phone allows. I actually use a combination of the two. For most things I use my Big Sky planner that I wrote about earlier this month. I also usually plan in a list format so I can check things off. This is better suited to a written format (although I am experimenting with teuxdeux.com and considering a possible switch to this online form of planning). For meetings, I use the calendar on my smartphone because it makes it easier to put things on other people’s schedules as their putting it on mine. Also, I can receive alerts for the meetings and can keep information, such as conference call numbers and access codes, in one place.
2. Include your most important activities.
This month we have talked about focusing on priorities. A good way to do so is to put activities on your schedule that remind you to do so. In order to make sure you have time for your priorities, you need to schedule them first, before anything else can take up your time. If you schedule your most important activities first, you can always keep your priorities in focus.
3. Always include the things you are most likely to forget.
Dentist’s appointments, doctor’s appointments, sports practices, etc. If you schedule your appointments six months to a year in advance as with many doctor’s/dentist’s appointments, you are likely to forget them unless they are on your calendar.
4. Always create margin.
Remember: don’t overplan! Unexpected things will always come up and if you have scheduled yourself to the max, you will only create more stress for yourself. Life is messy and crazy, but that’s what makes it colorful and beautiful. If you have unscheduled margin in every day, you will be able to embrace unexpected opportunities and better deal with unexpected challenges.
5. Always evaluate.
If a plan isn’t working for you, then change it. Figure out what’s not working. Is your plan to rigid? Is the format not suiting your needs? Does your schedule have too much activity? The only good plan is the one that you will use so when it’s not working, you have to take the initiative to change it.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”