I have a client who is a teacher and she desperately needs to get on a schedule so that when school starts again she can be more efficient with her life. So that she can teach and continue to stay on top of the things that are important to her.
My client has tried and failed to do this in the past. This year she has me and this year it’s going to happen and it’s going to stick.
#1 – Know what you want to have on your schedule.
This is very important. In order to make a schedule you need to know what it is that you want on it. If you just go into making a schedule with what comes off the top of your head you are likely to miss something and that will take away from the efficacy of your work.
There will be two categories of what you want on your schedule. Things that happen every day and then space for things that will suddenly need to be done, like meetings or doctor appointments.
For my client there weren’t that many items but the ones that she had were important. They included taking her meds (which she often forgot to do), eating breakfast, exercising, keeping her bedroom straight, going to bed by 11 and specifying hours that would be used for schoolwork.
Easy enough, no?
#2 – Write it down.
Writing something down, anything down, everything down, is the best way to insure that you will remember it. So once you have your list it’s time to rough out your schedule and write it down.
It is essential that you use a format for your schedule that is both effective for YOU and something that you will remember to LOOK at.
Many people feel like you have to have a fancy calendar, either paper or electronic, on which to record your schedule. They feel like if it’s fancy they are more likely to use it. And this might be so. But it also might not be.
Remember those chore lists you had a child? With the days of the week written down and what had to be done each day? They often were in different colors and involved stars for rewards? And remember how well they worked? I mean who didn’t want a gold star?
I am not saying that you need to use that format but choose a format that will work for you. It can be a calendar or a notebook or a white board. Whatever works best!
One thing I do not recommend is using a loose piece of paper. Why? For two reasons. The first because it is likely to get lost and the second because you won’t remember to look at it.
Whatever format you choose you need to remember to LOOK AT it. If you don’t look at your schedule you won’t be able to pull off sticking to it.
#3 – Keep it simple.
The most important thing about keeping a schedule is to make it as simple as possible. Don’t have too many steps. Too many steps can cause schedule derailment every time.
My client wanted to figure out how she could take her meds efficiently and every day. She has ADD and it is essential that she take her meds so that she can function.
One of the ideas was for her to put her daily dose in a jar and carry them down to the kitchen and have them with her breakfast. I suggested that perhaps she keep them by her bed and take them as soon as she wakes up and then head down for breakfast. That way she won’t forget and after she eats and then exercises the meds will have kicked in and this will help her to get out the door more effectively.
Taking that one step out of her schedule, the transportation of the meds from the bedroom to the kitchen, and taking them right away instead of later, makes the whole piece more efficient and more effective and easier to stick to because she can see the results.
#4 – Make sure that you allow enough time for each task.
It is very important when making a schedule to make sure that you don’t overbook your day. If you allow only 30 minutes to get up, make coffee, shower and exercise then you are just setting yourself up for failure.
As you make your schedule take a careful look at how long you really need to do something and then add an extra 30 minutes, in case you run late and for transition time to the next item.
Also, make sure that you leave some blank space every day to write in new things that need to be done, like haircuts and play-dates.
One of the top reasons for people to not stick to a schedule is because they just can’t get stuff done because they have not allowed enough time. They get defeated and give up!
And we don’t want you to give up. So plan accordingly.
#5 – Do it for 30 days.
They say that once you do something for 30 days it will become a habit. And it really works. I have had a lot of success with my clients as far as changing their habits over the course of 30 days.
So start with day one. And commit to doing it for 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days.
#6 – If you skip a day don’t give up.
You know how when you are on a diet and you have one night where that tub of Ben and Jerry’s just calls out to you and you can’t resist? What usually happens the next day? You give up on your diet, right?
The same happens when we get off of our schedules. We see ourselves as failures for not completing our task and we give up. Don’t do it! We are all only human and life gets in the way sometime.
Keep on plugging. Move whatever you didn’t get done to another day and start again. Remember, you are only doing this for 30 days and you can do anything for 30 days.
Today is a great days to start implementing ways to make a schedule and keep to it!
Find a comfy seat, bring a notepad and write down everything that you want to include in your schedule. Of course things will get added and subtracted but if you can create a baseline schedule around which everything works you will be golden.
Looking for more ways to make a schedule and stick to it? Contact me here and I can help!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.