How to Prioritize When Making a Schedule

 

After a long while of inconsistently posting on this blog, I’m finally writing a post and expect to be considerably more consistent about posting in the near future. Why is that? Well, it’s probably because I’ve pretty much figured out a weekly schedule that works for me.

But this definitely didn’t happen overnight at all. It’s been a lot of experimenting with different ways to block out certain amounts of times in the day/week, keeping in mind the level of importance of things. In other words, I’ve found that if you want to make a schedule that works for you, you have to be clear about what your priorities are.

Knowing what’s most important to me has been a game changer. I didn’t have to sit down to brainstorm and write down what my priorities are. You can do that if you want, but personally I think the process of creating your weekly schedule itself is sufficient.

If making a schedule right away is overwhelming, then I’d suggest getting a notebook or blank piece of paper, or even a post-it, and writing down a list of things that you know are important (studying should be a no-brainer if your current occupation is “student”) or that you’d like to spend more time on (maybe learning a new language or some other hobby).

It’s likely that you’ll write a number of things down, but you really shouldn’t have more than three priorities, lest you fall into the trap of focusing on so many things that nothing gets done properly, adequately, or thoroughly enough. So after spending about 5 to 10 minutes of writing down your potential priorities, take a look at your list and begin crossing things off. There will always be at least one thing that is easy to cross off, but it may take a few extra minutes to narrow it down to three.

To give you an idea of what I’ve deemed important…

My current top 3 priorities are:

 

  1. Health

    This is number one for me, because when looking back on my life over the years, I’ve realized that one thing that has often kept me from performing at my best is health. It’s not that I had any major illnesses or medical conditions, because I didn’t, but the fact that I didn’t pay attention much (if at all) to diet and exercise resulted in considerable sluggishness and fatigue that prevented me from doing my best in school and at work.

    Lack of proper diet and exercise also greatly affected the condition of my spiritual life, which is huge for me. The only reason why my spiritual life is not #1 on this list is because without a healthy body, you can’t really do or enjoy anything that much, spiritual or nonspiritual. So, it’s important that I keep myself alive first before I even consider my other priorities.

  2. Spiritual life

    This would have been number one for me but because of the reasons I just gave, my spiritual life now comes in a close second. If you’re reading this and you’re turned off by anything “spiritual” or “religious,” that’s completely fine because I’m not trying to convert anyone or change anyone’s personal beliefs or values. As a rule of thumb I think having three different priorities, as I have here, works well, regardless of what those priorities entail.

    My spiritual life includes Bible reading, ministry reading, personal prayer, and church meetings. My faith is my (non-physical) lifeline, gives my life meaning and purpose, and keeps me grounded in a very positive sense. I owe my life to God, and believe that He is the one who has brought me through everything so that I can be where I am today.

  3. Blog-related things

    You can call this my “hobby,” though it’s more of a “side hustle” which is a term commonly used in the entrepreneurial world. Everything related to my blog (and turning it into my own business down the line) is the main thing outside of my actual job that I’m actively trying to work on. It’s one of my top priorities not just because I want to make money, but because I actually enjoy working on it and it honestly makes me so happy.

    I don’t have very much to say about my blog right now, except that I clearly haven’t posted much on here for a while. Guess why? Yup, I didn’t prioritize it, so it didn’t end up on my calendar, which means not much got accomplished in recent months. I really hope and expect that the effectiveness of my new schedule will be reflected in my blog posts and updates in the near future.

Putting it down on calendar

Whether you use a physical or electronic planner or calendar depends on your preference, but personally I’ve found that I work best with iCal which I can access from both my MacBook Pro and iPhone 8.

I used to use physical planners all the time, and have gone through multiple Moleskine planners which I loved, but after I started going digital, there was no going back. I actually tried to go back to paper and even bought a really beautiful planner with a well thought out template/layout, but I somehow still ended up reverting back to my digital calendar.

When it comes to making your actual schedule with your top priorities in view, it honestly isn’t rocket science. I just color-code each of the three priorities when putting them into my weekly schedule on Sunday evenings. I use magenta (or whatever that color is) for health things (gym, personal training, pilates), green for spiritual things, and yellow for blog things. And then I use different colors for other things, such as purple for work and orange for special events.

Anyway, that is a general overview on prioritization when making a schedule, and I encourage you to take out a piece of paper or notebook, or pull up a new Word document or Google doc, and figure out what you want to make your top three priorities in your daily life. Let me know how it goes and anything you have questions or comments on, or if you want me to elaborate more on a particular topic from this post.

For more tips like these that are not posted on my blog but are only sent via email, send me a DM (and follow!) on Instagram @justamyllennial or email me at amy@justamyllennial.com to personally request to be added to my email newsletter list, since my newsletter sign up form is unfortunately not working at the moment. Thankfully my blog is now a priority so I’ll have more time to work on some of this technical stuff, like making certain things on this site less “buggy.”

11/22/18 Update: Newsletter form is up and running again!! Unless I messed something up again… (if that’s the case, please let me know).

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My Sunday OCD Planning for the Week

I’m all about productivity and figuring out how to make the most out of my time, working towards ambitious goals, and all that jazz. So today I invested a good few hours of my time on this lovely Sunday afternoon/evening to set up a definite, specific plan for the upcoming week, which also happens to be the first week of my new job (starting Tuesday).

I know I’ve referenced Sam Brown multiple times in the past but it’s because I feel like I can relate to her the most out of all the blogs I’ve come across. And no she did not tell me to promote her blog or anything.. I just have been helped so much by her…

Sam recently put out a new online course that helps with scheduling and beating procrastination. I have not purchased this course since I feel the need to start working so that I can save up some more money first (gotta pay off those student loans, ya know), but there is a free workshop video (I hope the link works) that she made on how to create a balanced study schedule (or just a schedule, if you’re not a student).

I spent wayyy too long being super OCD about following her step-by-step schedule planning video, but I have to say I am very happy with the results. I don’t think it’s normal though to spend more than two hours creating a weekly schedule… then again I had major indecisiveness issues choosing what colors to use on my Google Calendar (I think iCal has way prettier colors but I don’t have a MacBook). Welcome to the life of a perfectionist.

I strongly recommend creating a schedule electronically so that you have instant access to your calendar at any time. I have been a lover of physical Moleskine planners for the longest time, but this year, even before watching Sam Brown’s video, I started to just use my phone or laptop to access my planner/calendar because it’s so simple and convenient.

Then again I also just didn’t buy a physical 2018 planner in time for the new year, so that may have been part of the motivation for me to make the switch from paper to digital. Whatever the motivation was, I like what I am now using.

It’s convenient because you can set up notifications that remind you about important tasks that you may have forgotten, for example, say.. the need to give your little sister a ride to her chamber music rehearsal when you’ve completely forgotten about it. Or when you promised someone you’d call them at such and such time to discuss something.

Maybe making a detailed schedule sounds a bit crazy, but it’s not until you fill up a blank weekly calendar spread with mandatory things that you realize how little time you actually have left to do everything else that is not mandatory but perhaps necessary for sanity purposes (e.g. entertainment, meeting up with friends, etc). And that was a very long sentence.

I don’t feel the need to go into detail about how I planned out my entire week, but I will say I pretty much know what I will be doing from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, every day. But of course, life also happens, so if something unplanned comes up I will not be in shock and I will not cry because my schedule that I spent so much time on is “ruined.”

Honestly my view of a schedule is not that you have to follow it to the very last second, but that it gives a solid structure to your whole life, and you will have a better general idea of when you can “squeeze in” time for friends and family.

It’s kind of like the habit idea I was talking about in one of my recent posts (and also what I learned from Sam, again). When forming a long-term habit it’s not about doing it perfectly 100% of the time, but about doing it most of the time so that overall, you can really say that it is a part of your regular day to day life.

A schedule is similar in that you have a regular routine that you follow for the most part, allowing a little bit of wiggle room for the “life happens” moments. What matters is you can see clearly what your responsibilities are for the week, and at what times, so you will better know how many extra activities you can allow into your schedule.

That’s my take on scheduling and planning, though I surely have not been the best at keeping a good schedule most of the time, probably because I’ve just been on an extended two month long vacation. A much needed one. We’ll see how I survive “real life” again starting Tuesday.