Need help learning how to make a schedule that actually works? This post is for you! We’ll go through the basics of why you need a schedule and then cover some simple steps to make your own.
Why You Need a Schedule
How many times have you come to the end of a day and discovered that you didn’t accomplish much? This has happened to me many times through the years. More times than I’d like to admit.
Sometimes it’s due to lack of self-discipline (staying up too late, not getting up on time, etc.), but more often than not, my most disorderly days happen when I don’t use a schedule.
A schedule provides a helpful framework for the day, which can be so beneficial. It helps me to be more intentional about the way I use my time. It also eliminates a lot of decision fatigue.
With my schedule in hand, I can see what I need to focus on, and when it needs to be done.
I never have to wonder what to do next. My next steps have already been pre-determined by the schedule.
In some ways, it’s very freeing!
What About Living in the Moment?
But what if scheduling just doesn’t fit your personality? What if you don’t like the idea of a rigid schedule controlling your life?
I totally get that, because in some ways I’m like that, too. I like the idea of a schedule, and it definitely helps me be more intentional. But it can also get in the way of just enjoying my kids and my home. For me, I’ve found there has to be a balance.
The schedule (or routine, if you prefer to call it that) is there to provide some guidance. But I don’t allow myself to be a slave to my schedule.
If I’m reading aloud and we’re just getting to a really good part and the kids are begging me to read just one more chapter, I totally do. Sometimes we’ll read several more!
Or maybe my husband surprises me with a date night even though I had something else planned for the evening. You can bet I’m going to drop everything for that!
What about when the kids are getting in the pool and they beg me to go out with them even though I was just about to fold a huge pile of laundry? Forget the laundry, I’m jumping in! We’ll all fold the laundry together later.
If the idea of living by a schedule scares you, just know that you own the schedule. It doesn’t own you. You can do whatever you like with it and make it work for you.
The idea is to let it be a tool to help you. If it starts becoming anything other than helpful, then let it go.
The Secret to Making a Schedule That Works
Have you ever looked at another mom’s schedule, thought it looked pretty good, and adopted it as your own? Did that work?
I’ve been there. Many of my scheduling failures occurred because I was trying to copy someone else. It seemed like the perfect schedule. If it worked so well for her, I figured it could work for me, too.
Only it didn’t.
This is the secret to making a schedule that works: make a schedule that works for you.
What works for one person may not work for you. We all have such different life situations, different dreams, and different goals.
We also have differing abilities. Some people get more done at night, and some are morning people.
The key is to figure out what works best for you. What works for your personality, your strengths, and your unique life.
When you can let go of how you feel your schedule should look, and instead make one that fits around your life, then you’ll have a schedule that actually works for you.
How to Make a Schedule
So, are you ready to learn how to make a schedule?
First, we need to figure out and write down everything you need to get done in a day.
There are several ways you can go about this, but I like to keep it simple. I just do some brainstorming and make a list of everything that comes to mind and assign a time to it.
If there are too many things to fit into a 24-hour day, then you’ve got to let go of something or creatively fit it in somehow (maybe decrease the amount of time you’ll spend doing this activity).
Once you start making schedules, you won’t have to start from scratch each time. You’ll be able to just change the things that need changing and leave the rest the same.
A helpful idea is to start with sleep. You already know how much sleep you need (7-9 hours, depending on personal preference). If you plug in 8 hours for sleep, you’ve got 16 hours left.
Then you can add in time for meals, exercise, showering and getting dressed, and anything else you want in your schedule. (Feel free to look at mine as an example.)
After writing it down on paper, you may want to type it into a table (I put mine in an Excel spreadsheet) and print it out. Or, you may also want to transfer it to your daily planner (this is the planner I use and love).
How to Make a Schedule For Kids
If you’re a mom with kids at home, you probably already know that your schedule won’t work unless you include your kids in it. As you’re making your schedule, be sure to include activities for them as well.
Wake-times and bedtimes, naptime, playtime, chores, school, read-aloud time, etc. can all be part of your kids’ schedule. When I make my Excel schedule spreadsheet, I include my kids on it so we all have something to do and it all works together.
How to Implement Your New Schedule
Now that you know how to make a schedule and you’ve got yours made, how are you going to make it happen?
This is the tricky part for most people (myself included). Making a schedule is easy compared to actually doing it!
I’ve found that the most important part of the schedule tends to be what happens in the evening. If you get a good start in the evening (laying out clothes and getting to bed at a decent hour), your morning will be a success.
If your morning starts off successfully, then you’re in a prime position to actually implement your schedule.
So, my advice would be to focus on bedtime and wake-up time at first. These are the two main things. If you get these right, often the rest of the schedule falls into place!
I hope this helps give you some ideas for how to make a schedule that will actually work for you!
I’d love to hear your thoughts: do you prefer to have a schedule, or do you feel your days are more productive without one?