“I have so much more time than I need.” said no one over the age of 11 ever.
The key to maximizing my day, I have learned, is to leverage every minute in that day.
We have more time than we think we do. The key is not to create more of it – which is good, because we can’t. We create more time in our day by using the time we already have well.
The first step in using your time well is to identify it. By that, I mean figuring out how much time you actually have and how you actually use it.
Do this by logging your days. For 2-3 days, write down what you did during each half-hour block of time from the time you wake up, until the time you go to bed. This will help you see where all of your time is being spent.
Think of it like writing a budget. The first step of doing so requires tracking how you currently spend your money. Once you have a good understanding of those trends, then you can build off of that to determine how you SHOULD spend your money.
Once you see how you currently spend your time, you will be able to look at it and see what time is being spent well and what time is being wasted.
Budgeting is a key step to financial freedom because it’s puts you in the driver’s seat. Budgeting money simply means deciding ahead of time where it will go, versus letting it make that decision for you. The same goes for budgeting your time.
Creating a daily schedule for yourself is your way of telling the time in your day how it will serve you.
Creating a daily schedule for yourself doesn’t mean being bound to strict guidelines and inflexibility. Rather, it allows you to objectively and realistically determine what you can get done in a day.
How to Create a Daily Schedule Template That Works For You
1 – Start with Scheduled Commitments
Begin by writing down the events on your calendar that occur every week at the same day and time each week.
2 – Make a List of your Daily Tasks
Write down the things that you do – or want to start doing – every day. You can list them individually (i.e. shower, pack lunches, etc.) or group them together (i.e Morning Routine) – whichever you prefer.
3 – List Weekly Cleaning Chores
It is most beneficial to have some sort of cleaning routine, but if that doesn’t work for you, simply write out the cleaning tasks that you would like to get done each week & month.
4 – List All of Your Weekly “Non-Cleaning” Tasks
For me, this includes paying bills, running errands, writing blog posts, etc.
5 – List (this is the last one!) the Things that You Want to Do, But Don’t
The feeling of accomplishment at the end of a day, for me, is directly related to the amount of calm moments that were in that day. Even if my mile-long to-do list got completely checked off, if it took running ragged all day with no breaks accomplish that, I don’t feel accomplished. I feel exhausted. That is why creating this list and including these items in your weekly schedule are paramount.
6 – Assign a Purpose or Theme to Each Day
Don’t overcomplicate this step. Whatever activities – or lack thereof – characterize that day, label it that.
For us, Monday is our “Home Day” (because we have nothing scheduled), Tuesday is a “Work Day” (because I work a full day that day) and Thursday is “Errand Day” (because that’s the day that I run all of my errands). You may not be able to do this without having the above listed items assigned to a daily schedule, but do as much as you can. Giving each day a theme is part of you dictating how time is spent so that it doesn’t go the other way around.
7 – Assign Each List Item from Lists 2, 3, 4 & 5 to a Day
You can be as nerdy as you want with this. I envision color-coded post-its, but that’s just me. How you do this isn’t as important as actually doing it.
Don’t get overwhelmed by this. Start going through your lists and make the obvious decisions first. Skip over the non-obvious ones at first – don’t let them bog you down. Then, come back to those that are no yet assigned. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until all tasks belong to a day.
8 – Collect Each Day’s Tasks & Schedule Them a Time
You can be as broad or specific as this as you would like. I have mine in 15 minute blocks, because that’s what works well for us. If being that precise with time would overwhelm you, break tasks up into morning, afternoon, and evening.
The more specific you are with times, the more likely you are to capture every minute and maximize it. However, if being that specific with times becomes a burden that makes you flee from having a schedule, then give yourself the flexibility that you need in order to make a schedule work for you.
Tips for Making a Daily Schedule Template Work For You
1 – Allow more time than you think a task requires
Everything takes more time than we think it does. It’s that simple. Especially if you have young children. I think it has something to do with Murphy’s Law.
The library is less than two blocks from our house. However, I have 15 minutes allotted for getting to the library because it will take us at least that long. It shouldn’t. But it does.
Budget your time for how long something DOES take, not how long it SHOULD.
2 – Create Schedule Templates for Your Family’s Seasons
For us, our calendars have three “seasons”: September-December, January-May & June-August. At the beginning of each of these new seasons, I create a new daily schedule template to match that seasons goings-on.
3 – Build In Downtime
You will burn out without downtime. We were created to need rest.
And, you’ll take it whether you have it schedule or not (which points to our need all the more).
When it’s scheduled, you don’t feel guilty for taking it and it has parameters, which means you’re less likely to let that time get away from you.
Life is crazy. Especially life with young kids (maybe I just think that’s true because I am currently in the thick of it). You cannot possibly know what each day will hold. But that’s no excuse not use what you have well. Leverage the time that you have by deciding ahead of time how it will be spent.
Kids get sick. Appointments get cancelled. And when that happens, throw your schedule out the window and do what you need to do.
Creating a daily schedule template doesn’t constrain you to not be able to do what you want to do, it gives you the freedom to know when your responsibilities will be fulfilled and how you can use what you’ve been given the best way you know how.
It really is freeing.