How To Organize a Schedule
Updated July 21, 2022
Scheduling is a tool that we may use in both our personal and professional lives to keep track of our responsibilities. Learning how to organize your schedule may help you achieve a better work/life balance or feel more in control of your role in the groups or systems of which you belong. In this article, we discuss what a schedule is, why organizing your schedule is important and give 15 tips about ways you can organize your own.
What is a schedule?
A schedule is a plan or list of events that include their dates, times and locations. Itineraries, calendars, date books, class lists and flight boards are all examples of schedules that people may use regularly. Schedules may be personal for your own organization or use. Some schedules, however, may appeal or apply to people throughout an entire company or even throughout an entire country, such as with TV listings, for example.
Why is it important to organize your schedule?
Organizing your schedule may help you understand what you can realistically do with your waking hours throughout a day. Knowing what's included on your schedule may help you ensure you have the available time to do both important or work-related tasks and those for pleasure. Being organized may help you plan as best as possible for the unexpected or help you meet your goals. Having an organized schedule may also help you feel more prepared, productive and efficient when completing daily tasks.
Related: Guide To Flexible Work Schedules
How to organize your schedule
Use these steps to learn how to organize your daily and weekly schedule:
1. Keep important items in one spot
Being prepared in all aspects of your life may help you become more organized in your schedule. When coming home from work or coming back from an event, consider putting all your leave-the-house belongings in one place. This can ensure that things like your bag, keys, watch, sunglasses, headphones and electronics are ready when it's time to leave in the morning. This may help save time in your schedule by looking for misplaced items. The items you carry may determine your centralized space. Consider a spot near the door or near an electrical outlet to charge electronics.
2. Plan ahead
Similarly to meal preparations or scheduling a vacation, giving yourself time to plan may make it easier to follow your schedule. Before you go to bed at night or before you leave work for the day, give yourself about 15 minutes to write down and review what you plan to do the next day. Consider adding both personal and professional meetings, appointments and events. If preparing at work, consider tidying up your desk and putting away loose items that you won't need to avoid clutter. Consider pulling files and items and putting them on your desk for easy access.
3. Organize your workspace
Like putting your going out items in one location at home, having an organized desk at work may help save time as you move through your schedule. Consider choosing designated spots for all your office supplies, files, books and other items you may need to access throughout the day. Determine where and how you sit at your desk to choose what goes on each shelf or in each drawer. For example, those who are right-handed may put writing utensils on that side. Consider putting your most used items in your upper desk drawers or on your desktop.
4. Learn time-management skills
Learn how to manage your time to avoid procrastination. Consider choosing a big or important task to complete first each morning, like something with an immediate deadline or something you can complete on your own without collaboration. Completing a large or necessary task early in the day may help you feel more productive. Doing this may also teach you about prioritizing your responsibilities and give you the maximum time to complete the most critical assignments.
5. Segment your day
Consider separating your day into segments to make tasks more manageable. You may split the day into two halves—morning and afternoon—with a break in the middle for lunch. Depending on your job, you may also separate your day into even smaller increments, like thirds or fourths marked by meetings or calls. Doing this may help you determine what you want to do each day by a specific time, which can help keep you on task and be more productive.
6. Take a break
Allow yourself to take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout. These may include getting up from your desk and walking around, meal breaks, making a phone call or text to a friend or family member, talking with a coworker, playing a game or browsing the internet. Consider scheduling your breaks to give yourself a chance to rest without risking distraction or procrastination. Breaks may also help motivate you to complete your tasks in order to experience the reward of the relaxing activity.
7. Make a to-do list
Consider making a to-do list for each day to determine exactly what you want to accomplish. Prioritize your tasks in descending order, starting with the most important or most time sensitive and progressing to items that can wait until tomorrow if necessary. You may choose segments of longer, more in-depth projects to include on a daily to-do list.
Consider putting the date at the top of your list and include information such as due dates or meeting times. When you finish a task, cross it out or mark it off. This may help you feel more productive to see a record of everything you've accomplished.
8. Record your schedule virtually
Find a program that allows you to record your schedule electronically so you can access it anytime from anywhere. You may choose a calendar program or notes feature on your device. You may also consider a cloud-based scheduling software. Having access to your schedule at all times allows you to refer to your appointments to stay on task and make instant changes across all platforms and devices.
9. Use a planner
Consider using a traditional planner in addition to a virtual schedule to help you better remember your daily schedule. While both options complete the same function, writing things down may have a link to memory. Also, if you lose power, your internet service becomes unavailable or your device runs out of power, you still have a record of your entire day.
10. Write down appointments immediately
When you make a new appointment or have a time change, write it down in your planner or record it in your virtual calendar immediately. While you may think it's acceptable to write the information on a scrap of paper or that you'll remember to do it later, you may forget to put it on your calendar. Ensuring you've documented it in the proper place from the beginning can avoid looking for lost papers later and prevent you from having to think about the event again until it appears on your daily schedule.
Related: How To Make a Daily Work Schedule
11. Use Monday to your advantage
Allow yourself to create flow throughout the week by completing any procrastinated or difficult projects on Monday or the first day of your workweek. Your brain may be more relaxed or rested after a weekend or break, which may provide you the most clear head space of the week. Completing tedious or unenjoyable tasks earlier in the week may allow you more time to take breaks or make preparations later in the week.
12. Develop a routine
If possible, develop a routine within your schedule to help make it easier to complete. Routines may include arriving or leaving work at the same time each day, designating a set time for meal breaks or blocking off designated times for meetings. Engaging in routine may help train your mind to enter flow or work at peak performance at certain intervals.
For example, if you section your day into two halves and you take your lunch at the same time each day, you may train your brain to know that your morning half includes a lot of intense focus, making it easier to commit to your tasks.
13. End your meetings before they begin
When scheduling meetings or appointments, pick both a start and end time on your calendar. This may help you stay on task throughout the rest of the day and better plan for other things you can get done. Knowing the duration of the meeting before it begins may allow you to start with the most relevant information, maximize the meeting results and avoid unnecessary conversation.
14. Combine tasks
When possible, combine tasks to increase your productivity. Some examples may include organizing your space while on phone meetings, creating templates for repetitive tasks the first time you complete one or working on actual projects during meetings instead of just discussing them.
15. Say no
Learn when to decline an invitation to a meeting, social event or other engagement. Organizing your schedule is about making time for each task but also knowing when you're unable to complete any more. Learn your priorities and deadlines to determine what tasks you can skip or receive a briefing on later.
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