The Need for Structure: Creating a Schedule

I do not have a job and I go to online school. This means that I have very little structure. I was staying up until 2:00 AM and sleeping until 10:00 AM. I wasn’t being productive when I was awake and I put off schoolwork until the last minute which stressed me out a bunch and made me consider quitting school.

Plus, I have all sorts of projects going on. Two online writing internships (unpaid), this blog, a character blog that I am forming with a bunch of other writers, writing a novel, schoolwork, reading, my editing business, and trying to catch up on podcasts are all vying for my attention.

I knew I needed structure and a schedule in order to maintain a balance. So I decided to create a schedule.

First I listed out all of my projects. Then I prioritized them. It looked something like this: 

  1. School
  2. Writing Internships
  3. Writing a Novel
  4. Editing Business
  5. This Blog
  6. Character Blog
  7. Podcasts
  8. Reading

Then, I created a rough schedule in an hourly planner to help me. I schedule out blocks of time at least fifteen minutes in length.

My general schedule every day ended up looking something like this:

  • 6:00 AM – 6:30 AM: Wake Up/Morning Routine
  • 6:30 AM – 7:00 AM: Breakfast
  • 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM: Podcasts
  • 8:00 AM – 8:15 AM: Podcasts/Walk on Treadmill
  • 8:15 AM – 8:30 AM: Shower
  • 8:30 AM -10:00 AM: Schoolwork
  • 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Character Blog/Writing Internships/Snack
  • 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM: Write Novel
  • 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM: Lunch
  • 1:30 PM – 4:00 PM: Free Time (Catch Up on Reading Blogs, Read on My Phone, Message Friends, Browse Social Media, Check Email, Household Chores, Shopping etc.)
  • 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM: This Blog/Editing Business/Freelance Stuff
  • 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Dinner/Take Medicine (No Electronics Past 7:00 PM)
  • 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Read a Paperback Book
  • 10:00 PM: Lights Out/Go to Bed/Go to Sleep

I chose to exercise in the morning so I would feel energized and relaxed throughout the day. Podcasts after I wake up so I can ease into the day and listen with my eyes closed. Schoolwork early in the morning so I have all my mental energy. Writing throughout the day working on different things so I have time for all my writing projects. Time for snacks and food because humans need to eat and I am not superwoman. Free time so I don’t get tired of doing the same things every day and can do things like check my email and other mindless things and so I have time to talk with friends. More writing and editing time so I can address everything I wanted to. An hour for a family dinner including cooking, eating, and washing dishes. Taking my medicine early so I can fall asleep right away. No electronics so I don’t get blue light keeping me up. Reading a paperback at night so I can wind down and get tired, and eight hours of sleep a night.

Now these are just approximate times. If I run a little late or early, that’s okay. As long as I hit each item on my list every day I am good.

I set alarms for each time block beginning so that I would know when to move on and keep myself aware of the time. I also make a to-do list for each of the major time blocks so I know what to work on. I also don’t mind switching the time blocks around For example, today I chose to work on my blog and the character blog from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM since everyone else on the character blog was working and my scheduled posts were running behind.

If my approach to making a schedule will help you, here are a quick recap of the steps:

  1. List everything you want/need to work on
  2. Prioritize (what absolutely needs to go into your schedule and what can be put off)
  3. Make a schedule in time blocks. Consider adding an hour or two of free time
  4. Set alarms for the beginning of each time block
  5. Create a task list for the things you need to get done every day
  6. Be flexible: if you only have five minutes of a task left and time runs out, go ahead and finish and if you need to use a time block for a different task don’t feel guilty
  7. Adjust as needed
  8. Be stubborn and stick to the schedule, no matter what!

The last one is important. For the last two nights, I have disobeyed my “No electronics after 7:00 PM” rule because I couldn’t sleep and I had things I wanted to do on the computer that was nagging at me. So I ended up staying on the computer until midnight and not falling asleep until 2:00 AM. But I stayed stubborn and got up at six, just like clockwork. Being stubborn and sticking to your schedule is especially important when establishing one. Be stubborn for as long as possible but the first two weeks are especially important.

 

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5 thoughts on “The Need for Structure: Creating a Schedule

  1. I usually make schedules like this a lot, to try to fit in all my priorities. Lately, it hasn’t been helping me because I sometimes want to work on data analyses or writing more or less, depending on my motivation. But I plan to get back to doing schedules like this when I graduate 😉 Hope this approach has been helping you find balance and do well!

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