Having a daily schedule to help you stay on task is an excellent idea; not only do daily schedule keep us on task, but they help to ensure that our daily actions are bringing us closer to our long term goals. A daily schedule helps us plan our days more efficiently, get more things done, and ensure that our most important tasks get done each day. There are several different ways to create daily schedules and several different things to consider when designing one. Most of us could benefit greatly from the addition of a daily schedule to our lives, but it does take some careful consideration to make an effective one.
The key to to creating an effective daily schedule is having a deep understanding of your values, priorities, and long term goals. The way to effectively determine these things is to examine exactly what you want for your life before you die. We should know exactly who we want to be, what we want to accomplish, and how we want other people to remember us. If we look into the future and take a look at the perfect version of ourselves, what are we really like? This question has to be answered before you can truly make a clear and focused daily schedule.
Consider for a moment, a person may believe that going to work and making money is the best way to serve their family; they may work long hours, come home tired, and go to bed shortly after arriving home all in the belief that they are doing the best they can for their family; however, someday this person may come to realize that the perfect parent, wife, husband, or family member that they wanted to be is very far from the person they have become. Sometimes when we focus only on the now, we lose track of the person that we really want to be, we have to know exactly who we want to become, then and only then, can we determine our priorities and daily actions.
After we understand who we want to be and what we want to accomplish in life its time to start prioritizing. Priorities tell us what comes first when we are making decisions in life; if family is our number 1 priority, then our daily decisions and actions should reflect that. It is so easy for us to make our decisions off of what feels right in the moment, only to regret our choices later. To make the most of our days we must have a clear set of desires and priorities listed in order of importance. For example: if our number 1 priority is to lose weight and get in better shape, then all of our choices and actions should reflect that this is the most important thing in our life at that time; when our friends invite us out for a night of pizza, beer, and ice cream we have to consider our priorities: even if friends are priority number 2 we have to honor our first priority first; we can offer an alternative outing with our friends, join them and make sure to not indulge in the food (this might be the hardest option), or we can explain to them that eating junk food is not something that is not part of our life anymore. Ultimately it is up to you to determine what is most important, when it is acceptable to put a lower priority above a higher one temporarily, or when your priorities have changed, but it is always important to consider priorities when planning your schedule.
Figure out what times work best for your schedule, how much time you have available, and what tasks you need to complete for the day and week. You should almost always put tasks from a higher priority above tasks of a lower priority, except for when there are time constraints, for example: if your number one priority is your career and you have a regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, but you have a sick family member who needs your help on Tuesday to get to a doctors appointment, then you have to consider putting a lower priority above your higher priority for the day. Even if your number 1 focus is money, it will most likely be of a greater benefit to you to help a family member in need than to attend a regular meeting for the day, but its your call: you are in charge.
List everything you need to complete for the week; consider your available times and scheduling conflicts; start plugging in your highest priority tasks each day and ensuring that they are completed before lower priority tasks. This process can be complicated, but with a little practice you will start getting the hang of it. After we have set our rough schedule for each day of the week its time to stick to our schedule. Of course, things sometimes change ,and learning to adjust your schedule as high urgency tasks arise during the week is a great skill we learn with time; just try to ensure that you aren’t changing things around too much, if so, then it may be time to reexamine your scheduling habits.
The main thing to consider when making your schedule is if your daily actions are taking you closer to the completion of your long term goals and dreams: if the answer is no, then we must focus more closely on our goals and redesign our schedules; if yes, then we should continue on the path before us. Try to avoid temptation for instant gratification or easy solutions, instead we should look towards the actions and answers that will produce results that will take us closer to our ideal self, often times these choices will be the hard choices, the tough choices, the choices many others cannot make, but after all… do we really want to end up like everyone else?