Creating Schedules to Best Maximise Your Time

Creative Routines Poster

The cold that’s been going around and which I caught last week never went away, but ended up developing into the flu over the weekend. It was disappointing having to spend the entire weekend and the first part of the week feeling like crap (I hate falling sick on the weekends because that means you miss out on all the fun stuff!) and I’m still bummed over the time wasted being sick.

So now I’m feeling a ton better, I decided I could not afford to waste the rest of my week.

I don’t know about you, but I am a huge procrastinator. The kind of girl who has a ton of ideas, but rarely gets around to putting them into action because she’s, well, procrastinating. Type A person, I am not. I tend to waste more time fretting about how I don’t have enough time to accomplish all the great things I’m supposed to have done by now than I actually do trying to get these things done. And you can imagine, after wasting four days being sick, I’ve been fretting about even more time wasted lately.

That was when J showed me the infrograph above inspired by Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals, which looks at the daily routines of of over a hundred creative minds, including Charles Darwin, Maya Angelou and Sigmund Freud. (If you haven’t picked up Currey’s book yet, do it at once. It’s totally inspiring and intriguing, seeing what a normal day looks like for these great thinkers and creative artists, and the only drawback is you might end up spending more time procrastinating by poring endlessly over the book). Anyway, I looked at this infograph and I thought, Wow. Then I thought, Instead of complaining about not having enough time, why don’t I just shut up and create my own schedule to stick to?

Creating a Schedule (Blocking out Time for Daily Activities):

So last night before I went to bed, I sat down and planned out a schedule aimed at maximising my days for the rest of the week. Outside of work, I’ve blocked off time for fitness commitments like marathon training, time for boring must-do errands like grocery shopping and cooking some quick, nutritious meals, blog posting and writing. The schedule isn’t set in stone, but it is a flexible guide designed to keep me from falling victim to some of the biggest time-wasters in my life like YouTube, sleeping (this is a big hazard for someone like me who does shift work for a living, you get tempted to sleep too much), general Internet surfing and reading (I often sit down to have a quick meal while reading a book only to find an hour and a half later that I’m still reading and the crumbs on my plate have gone as hard as diamonds stuck to the dish with superglue and I haven’t done anything else I was supposed to do).

I also spent some time last night quickly devising some healthy, quick meals to make for the rest of the week and making a list of the ingredients that I’ve saved onto my phone so I won’t waste time thinking of meals to make or lingering in the grocery store, staring mindlessly at rows of sauce jars with no idea what to buy (another big time waster and also a money waster because I then inevitably end up buying too much stuff I’ll never actually eat and eventually end up throwing out).

What about the flexibility?

This kind of reminds me of being in school, where your class timetable is blocked out for you, then the rest of your day gets blocked out with extracurricular and tuition activities, music classes and the like. And I know the naysayers would say, ‘Hey, what about the flexibility, the need for idle time? Remember, Isaac Newton was just lounging around under an apple tree when he discovered gravity!’

I would say, ‘Trust me, being flexible is a good thing and I’m not going to completely stick to the schedule like glue. There is no bell that will ring at exactly a quarter past nine in the morning whereby I will drop everything I’ve just been doing and rush to the next activity I have planned on my timetable! And yet… I already spend so much time being idle and flexible to the point where I don’t get anything done so now it’s time to discipline myself a little and be a little strict with myself. I’m an adult now and there’s no one but me to parent myself so I gotta get onto it! Then I can party when I want without feeling guilty!’

Readjusting Your Schedule:

Don’t be too harsh or strict with yourself in the first week of your schedule. It’s hard to figure out exactly how much time you would spend on a certain activity. If you start timing yourself, you’d suddenly find out how much time you actually spend doing a workout plus the cool down after, plus time for a shower and drying your hair. For the creatives amongst us, it is really easy to let time run away with you once you get into the groove painting that picture or writing that manuscript. And I think us bloggers know that as well! So once you’ve got a better idea of how much time you actually spend doing each activity, you can readjust your schedule to better suit yourself.

Think of your schedule as a budget – with time as your currency:

Think of the schedule a little like a budget. When you initially create a budget, it can get a little panicky – suddenly you’re realising just how much you actually spend on stuff like insurance, groceries, socialising, etc. But now you have a better idea of just how much money/time you can afford to spend on a certain activity and you can priorities and better plan your days/salary around it. And you can add a little leeway – for example, time/money saved on something could be put towards something else that needs it.

Prep Time ahead of the Schedule:

I have a good feeling about this schedule I’ve created and I’m hoping to be able to keep it up. Sunday nights, I think, are probably a good time to look at the week ahead, see what commitments I have and plan my schedule around these commitments. In fact Sunday on the whole is a great time to block out a couple of hours and use that time to plan ahead of the week –  maybe get that load of laundry done so you won’t have to do it over the week (plus you’ll have some outfits clean and ready to wear over the week!), give the house a quick vacuum and dusting, and even do a quick tentative meal plan. And if you’re a fan of health  blogs like I am, you’d know that Sunday is the day to create a tentative and flexible meal plan for the week ahead and even maybe do a quick grocery shop and prep to make life easier over the coming days – in essence, make the work week that tad bit easier.

And for the writers among my readers, this time is also a good time to make some quick notes about what you’d like to accomplish in your writing over the following week (or the next few days if you, like me, are currently creating your schedule mid-week). Too often I find myself sitting down at my laptop and finding I’m not sure exactly where to start in the writing process. I end up scrolling idly through what I’ve written the week before, Internet surfing (again!!), going on YouTube to find some good music to get myself in the mood, just mindlessly wasting time before I finally get into the groove. Having a list of what needs to get done (say, edit Chapter 1, finish writing out these two scenes, half an hour to do some research on this particular subject for your work-in-progress) might just help you get started a little quicker.

Do you keep a schedule and how useful do you find it for maximising your time? Or have you previously kept a schedule and find it doesn’t suit you? Let me know! x

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