Schedules provide the framework for our days, weeks, and months. These schedules outline our obligations and then around these other appointments, we see the time remaining for accomplishing other things. What the schedule looks like for each of us can vary dramatically – if we’re working, are the hours consistent or varied? How many appointments do we have for this day/week/month? Theoretically when we commit to other people to be somewhere and do something, we want to follow through – so all these obligations affect the time we have available for everything else. And simply having a schedule does not magically mean your time is maximized.
First, I’d encourage you to recognize that you have a schedule – whether you’re working or not, whether you keep a record of it anywhere or not, whether you’re on summer break or not, etcetera – some people discount their having the schedule/framework based on their situation. Do you know anyone whose schedule doesn’t have some appointments on it? I can’t think of a single person. Even the most relaxed retired people still have commitments and appointments. Therefore, we all have that framework around which we manage other tasks and priorities. Also, think about how you like to focus on your schedule – is it per day, per week, or per month? It’s important to have a sense of what the upcoming days, weeks, and months bring, yet we tend to focus most on one of them – for me it’s weekly.
Second, consider whether your schedule reflects your priorities. Some people thrive on having a schedule that is full of all their passions while others become overwhelmed to have “too many” things on their docket. This is why it’s about exploring whether your priorities and schedule get along. Are you saying “yes” to too many voluntary appointments? Are you filling your schedule so full that there’s not enough time for quality time with family or personal rejuvenation? Quite often there are appointments that aren’t negotiable – we need to work or other things. Yet what else is making it onto your schedule – are you being conscious and deliberate about what you agree to?
Third, remember that time is limited. On one level we all know this and you might think I’m silly to make a point about this. Yet it’s all too easy to discount the time required for our appointments (and the potential for delays with them) and forget to consider the time for the “basics” of eating and bathing. It’s not that these later items need a place on our schedules or to-do lists, rather when we look that the schedule of what we’re doing today, we might not factor these into it. There are 168 hours each week and if we get 8 hours of sleep each night that brings the total down to 112 hours a week. How many hours are accounted for within your schedule (including the drive time)? The amount of time remaining is the starting point for what else you will have time for – as well as what you simply won’t have time for this week (or day or month).
Finally, get curious and experiment, experiment, and experiment some more. If you find yourself dissatisfied with how your schedule and tasks are functioning for your life, consider approaching it differently. Or even if you’re satisfied, there might be a way to improve things. There are so many opinions and options for managing your schedule and time – and this is an important place to begin in order to maximize your life. I’ll talk about some ideas soon. Remember our schedule is the framework for making space for our priorities – and it is up to each of us to define what that means and looks like for us as an individual.
I appreciate the structure that schedules provide – the clear guidelines of my commitments. The framework of the schedule delineates what other tasks may or may not be possible. Our schedules need to be reflections of our high priorities – whether that is simply working to earn money – at least a reflection of some of our high priorities. That doesn’t mean we don’t have other equally (or greater) high priorities. Our schedules are the framework for navigating within as we identify and make time for our other things we value and need. Honor thy schedule and use it to identify the time you have for everything else.