Let’s face it - scheduling is hard. About half a year ago, I started working from home full-time and learned quickly that creating a routine was essential for me. There were days where I’d hit my email inbox at 9 a.m. and before I knew it, it was 4:30 p.m. I was still in my pjs and hadn’t eaten all day. This was not going to fly.
Whether you’re working from home, going into the office, freelancing unsteady hours or just dealing with a packed schedule, there is always a way to find a routine that works for you.
And that’s where we start: with you.
Prioritize for you
While there will always be things out of your control, you need to prioritize your daily schedule for yourself, not for anyone else. Your focus time, relaxation time, family/friends time and creativity time are always more important than anything or anyone else. If your schedule doesn’t nurture you and prioritize your values, you’re never going to be successful in other aspects of your day-to-day life.
Start big and go small
I always start by making a giant list of everything I need to accomplish. On Sunday or Monday, I make my list and prioritize tasks by day. Then, I look at each day and map tasks out by hour. I always start really big and go super small by listing everything I can imagine and then scheduling to the minute. I’ve been guilty of scheduling TV time with my boyfriend into my calendar, but hey, it got done.
Find the time you're not using
Here’s a fun challenge! Keep a diary for a day that outlines how much time you spend on everything you do. You might find that there’s a long period after work where you sit on the couch and scroll mindlessly through your Facebook feed. Or maybe, you wake up in the morning and dive head first into emails instead of setting a mindful intention for your day. Add up all the time you consider yourself to be wasting, and set new standards for your schedule based on what you’ve discovered.
Keep it together
I’ve totally fallen down the sticky note rabbit hole where my desk has been plastered with a million to-dos and no system for organization. Settle on one calendar, whether it be an app, your Google Calendar, a good old fashioned agenda or a desk planner and outline your schedule there and there only. Nothing is more confusing than having half your schedule synced to your iPhone and the other half on your work calendar. Make it easy for yourself by keeping everything in one place.
Don’t sweat it
This is your schedule after all. One of the worst things you can do is become a slave to your own calendar. Things come up and plans change, and oftentimes priorities need to along with that. Don’t beat yourself up if this happens - just be sure to reschedule.
Your schedule is going to be constantly changing. The most important thing is that you schedule and plan your calendar according to the routine that best fits your life. It may take some trial and error to find your perfect routine, but soon you will start to notice trends in your days and learn what time/day/week/month/year is best for you to conquer the tasks that are thrown at you. Once you find your routine, stick to it. The rest will fall into place.
Haley Humiston is the founder of Grand Print Co. in New York, NY.