8 Tips for Organizing Your Schedule to Help You Find More Free Time
Wondering how to start organizing your schedule? Here are 8 awesome tips to get your schedule organized and find more free time.
Do you ever feel like your schedule is a hot mess? Maybe you’re thinking, “Schedule? What schedule?” Or perhaps organizing your schedule sounds like a tedious chore that will take the spontaneity out of life.
So, let me ask you this—do you feel like you have enough time in your life?
My guess is, like most of us, you probably feel like time is at a premium like there’s never enough to go around. Here’s the deal—organizing your schedule to stay productive will help you find more free time! It works like magic, I promise. As soon as you get organized, you’ll be amazed at the time you never realized you had.
Ready to find more free time? Here are 8 great time management tips to help you organize your schedule and get control of your precious time.
1. Schedule What’s Important
When you have something really important to do, like a doctor’s appointment, for example, you probably put it on the calendar so you don’t forget. What if you started to treat every appointment with that level of priority?
Hear me out—I know planning your schedule sounds like “one more thing” you have to do, but when you actually write out your appointments, you may discover pockets of free time that you never realized you had. I find that Google Calendar works really well for this (although you could totally go old school with a paper planner too).
Every time there’s something important you want to do, put it on the schedule. If you want to go to the gym, have a date night with your husband, or have an afternoon to catch up on your craft projects, schedule it! Put it on the calendar and keep it like any important appointment.
2. Schedule Time to Schedule
I know that sounds a little crazy, but here’s the deal. If you want to find time to do the items on your to-do list, you’re going to need time to sit down and focus on your schedule. Setting up a calendar or filling out a planner takes time, especially at first.
If you organize and take time for planning your schedule regularly, it may only take a few minutes a week, but at first, you may want to give yourself an hour or two, especially if planning your schedule is new to you. Create a time when you can sit down with your calendar and get it organized.
Before you start, you may want to create a list of what you need to do. To help you, I’ve created The Complete Schedule Overhaul. This guide will walk you through exactly how to set up your schedule and figure out what goes where. I’ll share my method of working “backward” through your day so you can estimate exactly how to plan.
To learn more, check out The Complete Schedule Overhaul. It’s everything busy moms need to get control of their schedule!
3. Block it Out
If you never feel like you have enough time, it might be because you’re trying to fit in too much at once. There’s a technique called time-blocking that you can use to your advantage. You block out a chunk of time—15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes to work on a specific activity. Put it on the calendar and schedule it as “busy.”
When you get to the designated block of time, you focus on that specified activity. You don’t need to worry about all the other items on your to-do list because they’re blocked out for another time (or you’ve blocked out time to catch up on those little items). When you use time-blocking, you will notice a pretty clear shift in your productivity (especially if you weren’t using it before).
Sometimes you’ll block out too much time for something, and that’s okay. Make a note for the next time you face that task and use the extra minutes to catch up on something else. If you find that a task is running over the allotted block, you schedule another block later on or shift it to your catch-up time. Once you get the hang of time-blocking, it becomes one of the most straightforward time management strategies to follow.
4. Prioritize Your Day
When you have a lot to organize on your schedule, it may feel overwhelming. How do you fit it all in? Where do you put everything? Take your to-do list and prioritize. What is most important that you get done today? That should go on your schedule first.
After you’ve scheduled the most critical items, you add in the less crucial but still priority items, then move down to the lower and lower priorities. The productivity guru Steven Covey likens this to a jar filled with rocks. If you dump in tiny rocks first, the jar will fill up fast, and it’s hard to fit in the bigger stones. If first you put in the big rocks, then the medium-sized rocks, then the pebbles, everything will fit.
It’s also important to realize that every priority probably won’t get done every day, and that’s totally okay. If you aim for getting most of the major stuff done, then a few rollovers won’t matter so much for tomorrow—add them on as you organize your schedule.
5. Achieve One Big Thing
If you want to organize your schedule and you’re having a hard time deciding what to tackle, choose the most significant item on your list. What’s the most important thing that you need to do today? Maybe it’s a work project; perhaps it’s something for your family. Whatever it is, make it your primary focus.
I can tell you if you get that one big thing done, you will feel accomplished. Even if everything else hits a wall in your day and things go off the rails (hey, it happens). You’ll still feel proud that you got that one major project finished and out of your way.
The key is to figure out what the biggest item on your list is each day. If you’ve ever read Martha Stewart Living, she has a calendar at the beginning of each magazine where she plots out her “one thing” for that day. Maybe it’s to weed the garden; maybe it’s an event; perhaps it’s a self-care item. Now, while none of us is Martha Stewart, it’s one of the best time management strategies to tackle things on your calendar.
What is your biggest priority today? Do that, and you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something major!
6. Give Yourself Breaks to Catch Up
The secret to managing and organizing your schedule is to build in breaks! I know when we’re busy, we all think, “multi-task!” Many of us avoid taking breaks because we feel like that will only leave us further behind.
The truth is that we all need a break. If you’re scheduled down to the minute each day, and something happens to take your day off track, you’re in big trouble! Now you’re behind for the rest of the day, maybe the rest of the week. If you’re scheduled tightly, you could be behind for months!
I’m here to tell you that that’s a sure-fire path to mom burnout. Instead of scheduling yourself so tightly that you never have time to catch up, build in some blocks of time on your schedule to catch up and even to chill out. As you’re organizing your schedule, keep downtime in the mix. If you get to those moments and you’re magically already caught up, do something fun and relaxing to reward yourself.
7. Time It!
If you need to get something done in a set amount of time, set an alarm! Use a timer to help you stay motivated, focused, and on-task. I find that this works well to help you get a handle on how long a particular task will take.
Research has shown that most of us grossly underestimate the amount of time we need to complete tasks. This very human tendency is called the Planning Fallacy, and it can be even more prevalent amongst high achievers. We all think we can get more done in a set amount of time than is actually possible.
Instead, try under-promising and over-delivering as an alternative (even if it’s just under-promising to yourself). When you have to estimate how long a task will take, plan in some extra time. Should anything go awry, you’ll be able to adjust without completely getting behind.
8. Don’t Overcommit
On a similar note about overpromising, don’t over-commit. I can raise my hand as someone who is definitely guilty of this from time to time. Jordan needs something, the kids need something, a friend calls and asks a favor, work requires me to make a schedule adjustment—suddenly, I’m overwhelmed.
We all have a finite amount of time in our day. I would bet that we all want to help a friend, take on a volunteer gig, lead an activity for our kid’s scout troop, and take on fifty other tasks when we’re asked. But something’s got to give. If we try to do it all, we end up unable to do our best.
Give yourself permission to say no. You can politely decline and explain that you don’t have time but would gladly help in the future. Or explain that you don’t have time and leave it at that. Don’t feel guilty for making your family and yourself a top priority. Your schedule (and your loved ones) will thank you!
9. Stop Waiting for Motivation to Hit
If you’re wondering how to organize your schedule, make sure you’re not getting in your own way. Sometimes we wait for motivation to hit. We feel overscheduled and overwhelmed, but we’re procrastinating and living in a state of guilt about what we “should” be doing.
The truth is most of us never “feel like” doing the unfun tasks. There are many days when we won’t feel like going to work; we might not even feel like we want to pay attention to our kids or hang out with our spouse. It’s normal not to always feel like doing what we need to do.
If we wait for the stars to align and our motivation to appear magically, it probably won’t. We may never feel like it. So sometimes we have to just do it. That means looking at tasks on your schedule and knocking out a few items you’ve been putting off for a while.
I’m often shocked at how easy jobs are once I’ve stopped procrastinating them. Sometimes I think, “Wow, why did I put that off for so long?” Here it was, hanging over my head and making me feel stressed out.
If you want to organize your schedule and still aren’t sure where to start, don’t miss my Complete Schedule Overhaul guide. In this guide, I’ve included all the hands-on tips you’ll need to organize your life and take back your time. If you’re tired of feeling overwhelmed and behind, don’t miss this chance to FINALLY get ahead and organize your schedule!
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I hope that you found these tricks useful! Do you have some secret tips yourself? I’d love to hear it from you through the comment section below!
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