Digital schedules are popular these days—70% of people surveyed rely on them. But more people than ever admit they procrastinate. So what’s the deal? Why does a generation with the best and most accurate scheduling technology in history also struggle to get work done?
Simple: We’re busy. We can barely plan out our days, let alone entire weeks and months. Sitting down to plan our schedules becomes another chore. And it’s a chore many people would rather avoid.
Enter the schedule template. A good schedule template is like GPS for your car. It’s there when you need to glance at it, but most of the time, your eyes should be on the road. And if a good schedule helps you navigate your time as well as a GPS helps you on the roads, it’s smart to download your maps ahead of time.
Here’s how—and why—you can get yourself on a schedule without building one from scratch.
You’re stressed out. You’re overworked. Or maybe you’re unfocused and wondering why you’d rather twiddle your thumbs than get some work done. What’s going on?
Both extremes are different sides of the same coin: your inability to control your own time. It doesn’t matter if you’re self-employed or have a boss. Studies show that our ability to control our time correlates with our work satisfaction. If you find yourself stressed out by too much work or bored by too little, it’s a sign that control is slipping away.
The solution? Commit to a schedule by using a schedule template.
What can you accomplish if you control your day? Or even your entire week? Here’s how to pull it off.
It’s not hard to sit down and write a daily to do list. Most people have been doing that since they were kids. But bump up your schedule to an entire week—or even a month—and it starts to get tricky.
How do you make it happen? Here are the specific ingredients to make a weekly schedule work:
Using a schedule template fits all the criteria so far. It helps you plan your work days and meet your weekly objectives. But not all schedules are made the same. Some people like scheduling things by the week. Others, by the day. What works best for you? How far out in advance should you plan?
The key advantage here is flexibility. If something comes up, you can pop it into your schedule right away. No muss, minimal fuss. Some people have trouble getting by without at least a daily to do list. If you’re in that camp, starting off with a daily schedule template might be a good way to transition into a solid calendar.
Call it the Goldilocks schedule. This fits if you think a daily schedule is too small and reactionary, subject to the whims of the inbox. Or if you’re afraid a monthly schedule is too big and inflexible. Weekly is just right.
In one survey, researchers found that the majority of workers (59%) use a weekly schedule, and 60% would prefer to avoid shifting schedules when measured by the week. Since most of us work on weekdays with weekends off, it’s a natural way to break down our time into bite-sized pieces.
This can work if you’re something of a black belt in time management. With a monthly schedule, you’ve gotten your routine down to a science. It might not always end up being 100% accurate, of course. Your daily work might stray from the monthly plan. But the act of planning out an entire month can pay dividends, helping you better prepare for long-term projects.
What if you have one simple template, and want to customize it so it fits a different timeline?
Some people object to a template because they know their life doesn’t fit neatly into a template. For every person with a 9-to-5 job, there may be someone out there juggling two part-time jobs and a family life. Or a freelancer working from home with a variable schedule. How can one size possibly fit all?
Let’s look at some ways you can incorporate a schedule template into a hectic daily life.
Don’t schedule every hour of the day. Just don’t. Raising kids is too hectic and you’ll only stress yourself out.
But do create a visual calendar that introduces the idea of routine. As psychologist Dani Kaufman says, implementing a routine means “[children] know what to expect when they go home, and it provides them with clear boundaries, expectations, and consistency.”
Consider turning a schedule template into a weekly checklist for children. This is for you, sure. But it’s also there to teach kids about time management. Reinforcing certain tasks—cleaning their room, doing their homework after school, etc.—helps them form good habits.
Think in longer terms. What do you want students to understand after a month? Two months?
For classroom schedules, go beyond the classic school schedule template and consider memory retention. Spaced repetition for key points (as plotted on the “Forgetting Curve”) helps boost how much your students retain. It’s hard to create that kind of memory retention with short-term classroom schedules that don’t review the key points.
Good time management is like setting a budget. You only have so many hours in the day and you need to spend them wisely.
A schedule template provides the blueprint for that budget. Like any budget, you can tweak a schedule template to fit your specific needs.
Done right, your new schedule template can be like the map in your GPS. It’s no longer a question of whether you’ll get to where you’re going. It’s only a question of when.
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