How Do I Create and Stick To a Daily Schedule?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 22, 2022 | Published July 23, 2020

Updated June 22, 2022

Published July 23, 2020

Actively establishing a daily schedule that includes priority tasks can help you keep your work and personal lives in balance. A daily schedule can help you achieve long-term goals by ensuring you're regularly working towards them.

In this article, we explain why a daily schedule is important, describe how to create one, offer tips for maintaining your routine and give an example daily schedule.

Why is a daily schedule important?

A daily schedule helps you prioritize your wants and needs efficiently and offers you structure to support your productivity. Benefits of a daily schedule include:

  • Scheduling time to meet all daily goals

  • Boosting productivity

  • Limiting procrastination

  • Establishing healthy habits

  • Enjoying a good work-life balance

You can implement a daily schedule for work-life balance, which can help you use your time effectively at both work and home.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your Time-Management Skills

How do I create a daily schedule?

If you'd like to create a productive daily schedule that meets your specific needs, follow these steps:

1. Write everything down

Begin by writing down every task, both personal and professional, you want to accomplish during a normal week. Focus on brainstorming rather than editing or organizing. Remember to include tasks that you complete intermittently, like changing the sheets on the bed or mowing the lawn, and everyday tasks like making breakfast or doing dishes.

Related: 6 Ways To Optimize Your Daily Schedule

2. Identify priorities

Once you have your master list, go through it and identify daily priorities. Consider using a highlighter to help visually organize your priorities by work, personal, wants and needs. For example, highlight daily work needs, like answering emails or returning phone calls, in blue and highlight personal wants, like reading a book for pleasure or going out for coffee with a friend, in green. Do this for your full list of tasks.

3. Note the frequency

Review your highlighted list and mark down the frequency you want or need to complete your tasks. Write this number next to each task. For example, write a "7" next to “make breakfast,” since you'll do that every day. Write a "1" next to “change the sheets” since you'll do that once a week.

Related: How To Make a Daily Work Schedule

4. Cluster similar tasks

Determine if there are similar tasks you can group or efficiency. For example, if you have "wash the dishes" and "wipe down surfaces" on your daily list of tasks, consider doing those together or one right after the other since they require some of the same supplies and take place in the same area of the house.

5. Make a weekly chart

Create, purchase or print a weekly chart. Begin filling it in with daily and weekly personal and work needs. Identify where it makes sense to complete tasks that recur weekly to keep your schedule as open as possible. For example, if on Mondays you have only four priority tasks, consider adding a weekly task like mowing the lawn rather than doing it on Saturdays when you have six priority tasks.

Related: How To Plan Your Day: Benefits and 8 Tips for Success

6. Optimize your tasks

Review your weekly schedule and determine if there are areas or tasks you can simplify or optimize to save time. For example, if you traditionally go to the grocery store on Sundays but that doesn’t leave time to manage other tasks that day, consider a grocery delivery service or moving the task to a weekday instead. Do this with any days that seem particularly full of activities.

7. Order the tasks

Once you've optimized your weekly schedule, create a loose hourly schedule for each day's tasks. Consider blocking times like "morning," "midday," "afternoon" and "evening" rather than an hour-by-hour plan. This way, if a task takes longer than expected or you have to attend to an emergency, you'll still be able to maintain your schedule.

Related: How To Schedule Your Day and Be More Productive

8. Stay flexible

Try out your schedule for a week or two and adjust it as needed. It might take a few weeks for you to establish a routine that meets your needs, both personal and professional, so be patient. Remember to allow for some flexibility every day since unexpected tasks will occur.

Related: How To Schedule Your Day and Be More Productive

Continue to use your daily schedule

To position yourself for success with your new schedule, consider the following:

  • It takes time to build a habit. Endeavor to purposefully follow your schedule for several weeks. It will become second nature with time.

  • Adjust your schedule as needed. What you initially create will probably need some tweaking so make changes to the order of your tasks if it's not working.

  • Visitors, vacations or other schedule disruptions can be a challenge. Make an active choice to return to your schedule after these disruptions. It might take a few days or a week for it to feel natural again but it will with time.

  • Give yourself grace. If you deviate from your schedule or miss a task or two on Monday, remember that Tuesday is a new day and another opportunity to create consistent daily patterns to help you achieve your goals.

Related: Self-Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Daily schedule example

Review this example daily schedule to help you structure your own:

MORNING (7 a.m. to 11 a.m.)

  • Make the bed

  • Cook breakfast

  • Exercise

  • Answer emails

  • Journal

MIDDAY (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

  • Make work phone calls

  • Cook lunch

  • Meditate

  • Write 1,000 words

AFTERNOON (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.)

  • Work on professional project

  • Call a friend

  • Walk outside

EVENING (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

  • Prepare dinner

  • Write in gratitude journal

  • Watch a show

  • Wash the dishes

  • Read a chapter of a book

  • Prepare for sleep

Related: How To Manage a Busy Schedule in 13 Steps

Daily schedule template

Here is a template that you can use to make your own daily schedule:

MORNING (X a.m. to X a.m.):

  • Task 1

  • Task 2

  • Task 3

  • Task 4

  • Task 5

MIDDAY (X a.m. to X p.m.)

  • Task 1

  • Task 2

  • Task 3

  • Task 4

  • Task 5

AFTERNOON (X p.m. to X p.m.)

  • Task 1

  • Task 2

  • Task 3

EVENING (X p.m. to X p.m.)

  • Task 1

  • Task 2

  • Task 3

  • Task 4

  • Task 5

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