In a previous post, we examined the reasons for creating routine in your schedule. This month I’ll give you some practical tips on how to create your weekly schedule.
1 | Analyse how you currently spend your time.
The key challenge with time is that it’s intangible. It’s easy to believe that activities or tasks we don’t enjoy take all our time while there’s never enough time for the activities we enjoy. You can either use your diary if you enter most of your activities in it or record your activities for one week or two in an Excel spreadsheet like the one shown below.
This exercise will help you identify what’s working and what’s not working and give you a view on how in and out of balance you truly are.
2| List down those core activities that deserve a slot in your weekly schedule.
Make sure to include not only the must-do but also the ones that will keep you happy and in balance. On the other hand, let go of the activities that don’t help you meet any of your personal or professional goals and priorities. Evaluate how much time you need to spend on each activity on a weekly basis.
3 | Transfer these activities into a blank spreadsheet like the one you have built above.
Start putting in the givens and constants i.e. wake-up and bed time, meal times, regular meetings and classes, kids’ bedtime etc. Place your other activities in a logical flow in the day/week taking into consideration your energy levels and concentration thresholds for various tasks as well as other people’s schedules.
For example, the best time for me to do strategy work is in the morning when I’m very alert, and I also know that my concentration threshold for this type of work is 1.30 hour, after which my attention will start drifting. On the other hand, I dedicate the 4.30-6pm time slot to activities that don’t need much focus (checking emails, sourcing pictures for my blog etc.) as my son does his homework by my side at that time and may interrupt me.
4 | Take into account “hidden” times, in particular traveling time, set-up time or wrap-up time.
For example, if you attend a one-hour yoga class between 1-2pm, add 10 minutes to walk to the studio, 5 minutes to change into your gear, 10 minutes to shower and get dressed afterwards, and 10 minutes to walk back to your office. Either assign a 12:45-2:30pm time slot for yoga in your schedule or assign 15 minutes before and 20 minutes after as busy time.
It may sound very detailed but failing to do so will make you see this time as free and result in you being late for your class, or the appointment you may have back in the office, and feeling always rushed. You may conclude that you don’t have time for yoga and drop an activity that was supposed to make you feel good in the first place.
5 | It’s up to you to decide how much you want to put into your schedule.
Some people prefer to have all their activities mapped out while others prefer to put in only the activities that are important to them or that they’re struggling with. Color-code your various activities in your schedule if you respond well to color. Most importantly keep your schedule visible and accessible. It can be a print out of your Excel spreadsheet or you can integrate it into your Outlook calendar if that’s the planning tool that you use.
6 | You won’t get it right first time.
Creating a weekly schedule requires several iterations and you’ll need to move things around a few times before getting it right. Also by making the use of your time so visible, you’ll start paying more attention to your time management preferences which will lead you to make further changes. Follow your weekly schedule for a couple of weeks and make adjustments. Repeat the process until you’re satisfied.
7 | Your weekly schedule won’t work 100% of the time, but that’s ok.
In fact you can be satisfied if it works 80% of the time. But the key to a weekly schedule is that it gives you the opportunity to play around with your schedule when the unexpected happens (and that for sure will happen) and easily switch activities if you feel like it.
If you feel overwhelmed at the idea of creating your schedule on your own, don’t fret. This is one of the main items I cover as part of my time management coaching programme. So don’t hesitate to contact me if you want more details on this!
This blog post was first published on Connected Women.