Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Want to Be More Productive? Develop a Schedule

I love my schedule. I thrive in a structured environment. As someone with anxiety, a schedule helps me feel in control and able to control my panic. It also helps me get me work done.

For a long time, my goal was to be able to work from home. I was able to get a job that allowed me to do that last summer, then after a few months, things didn’t work out. However, before finding another office job, I worked as a freelancer. After moving to Nebraska, I find myself freelancing once again.

The month leading up to the move was chaos. I didn’t have a schedule per se because my days were focused on packing and cleaning my house and maintaining my sanity. As I look back on those days now, I think I probably would have been more successful if I had developed a schedule.

Are some of you groaning out there? Do you think I’m weird/crazy/Type A because I do better with a schedule? When I say the word “schedule” or “structure,” you probably think I’m not having any fun and it’s all work, work, work. For some people, having a schedule takes the spontaneity and spice out of life.

Well, that’s fine. Schedules aren’t for everyone, but life wants a schedule. It’s made for structure! There are benefits to having a schedule. And I don’t handle spontaneity or spice very well.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can be flexible with my schedule when I need to be, and my days aren’t exactly predictable. Some days I get more work than I expected, and other days I don’t get work at all. That can throw off all my plans. What do I do then?

When I talk about having a schedule, I’m really talking about having a general guideline for the day. I make myself get up at a certain time, otherwise I’ll lounge around all day. I make myself exercise, which is incredibly important because I really enjoy dessert and I need a dose of endorphins. I also make it a point to end my days at a certain time, usually around 5:30, so I can make dinner for the family.

This part is incredibly important. If I don’t set boundaries, especially as a freelancer, I will be working all the time. I don’t want to do that (I’ve done it before, and it was no fun), and my family doesn’t want me to do that either. Once I’m done working for the day, I have my evenings to do what I want—and that usually means something fun.

If I have work, I get that done first. Since I’m freelancing at the moment, I prioritize what needs to be done by what is due first. If I don’t have work, I figure out what things I need to do around the house (laundry, clean, etc.) and get those finished. If I honestly have nothing to do, that’s when I allow myself time to read.

But, wait, you say, what about your writing? Writing is part of my daily schedule. When I’m done with my work, I sit down and put words on paper. I’ve always done this—even when I had an office job. Most of the time, my writing was scheduled for the evenings and weekends, but it was still scheduled.

Again, I realize that all of us are different and what works for me might not work for you. My point is that if you want to get things accomplished during the day, you have to set aside time to get it done. The world isn’t going to stop for you to work, and things will always pop up to keep you from getting stuff done. If you have a schedule, you have more of an obligation to get things accomplished.

Try it for a week. Set some general guidelines for your day and stick to them. Get up at a certain time every day. Set aside time to exercise—even if it’s for only 20 minutes—at a time that’s convenient for you. Set your end time for work and stick to it. I’m telling you: you might be surprised at how much you get done.   

2 comments:

wiigelec said...

What a coinc-e-dinc i started doing the same thing with my new work schedule and 6 days off! Get up at 6:30, have a general plan for the days off so i get stuff done instead of wasting it. Seems to be working so far!

Pembroke Sinclair said...

Woooooot! Glad to hear you're making a schedule work!