Most of us lead busy, often hectic lives. Sometimes, keeping everything in order can become very stressful. But luckily, there’s an easy solution for you: scheduling.
When you learn how to create a schedule, you can manage your time more effectively. You can tackle tasks quickly and efficiently. You can ensure that you meet deadlines on time. With a time management schedule, you can perform your best work with less stress.
If you don’t know how to create a time management schedule, don’t worry. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to manage your time with effective scheduling to work smarter.
Top Benefits of Scheduling (And What Is Effective Scheduling?)
Feeling overwhelmed? Missing meetings? Not sure where your time goes? It's time to adopt scheduling as must-do work.
If you think scheduling is "one more thing to do," you might be missing out on the benefits. Keep these in mind as you evaluate whether scheduling is right for you:
- Free up your mental bandwidth. We all have too many things to remember. Think of your schedule as a second brain where you dump every appointment and time obligation. You'll find yourself with more mental bandwidth for the tasks at hand instead of remembering times and places to be.
- Control your time (instead of time controlling you). Think of scheduling as budgeting, but for your time. When you budget your time, you give it a purpose. You tell your time where to go, and don't let days happen to you.
- Don't miss a meeting. There's nothing worse than missing a friend's birthday or a key meeting. When you've got a schedule, you're reminded of the key dates that help you connect.
These aren’t the only benefits of scheduling. Scheduling also helps you prioritize tasks. You can focus on projects that matter most, or that are due soonest. Scheduling lets you be more effective and more efficient.
What is effective scheduling? A proactive, regular approach to planning all areas of your life. It puts you in the cockpit as the decision maker of what you'll do.
How to Make an Effective Schedule & Use Your Time Better in 2022
When you think of how to make a schedule, it can seem intimidating at first. The trick is to follow a step-by-step process. Let's look at seven tried-and-true steps to create and maintain time management schedules.
1. Choose a Planning Tool
We already mentioned a key part of how to create a schedule: get organized. If you rely on your mind to remember, maintain, and arrange tasks, you're bound to forget and lose track of your tasks.
Here's the thing: you need a tool to manage your schedule. In the context of scheduling, the tool is where you’ll develop and store your schedule. Don't spend too long deliberating on the perfect tool. Perfect is the enemy of "good enough" when it comes to setting up a schedule.
You'll use your scheduling tool to create and store your schedule. Here are a few types of tools to make a schedule:
- Calendar-based tools. Apps like Google Calendar or Outlook are built with time in mind. You not only set up tasks, but you assign them to specific blocks of time. This is great if your schedule is full of meetings with time-specific needs.
- Task-based planning tools. To-do based apps like Todoist or Microsoft To Do are built with your must-do items in mind. If you've got a long list of bite-sized tasks, these work best to schedule the day ahead.
- Pen and paper. There's nothing wrong with a simple pen and paper setup. What is effective scheduling other than simplifying how you do things, after all.
For another option, you can use scheduling calendar templates from Envato Elements. These are stylish designs that are easy to work with inside your favorite presentation app. They present your schedule on custom slide designs that you can share with others if needed. These designs help you keep plans organized while you learn how to make a schedule.
Again, the goal is to choose a planning tool that helps you schedule effectively. Whatever you choose, it should be easy for you to use and maintain. And remember, scheduling isn’t something you do only once. Your tool will help you keep it up-to-date without much manual rework.
2. Identify Tasks and Prioritize Them
Here's the thing: scheduling is only powerful if you understand your priorities. After all, the perfect schedule won't yield results unless you use it to schedule important work.
Once you’ve chosen your tool, you need to perform task analysis. As you consider how to create a time management schedule, this is absolutely critical. Arranging tasks in random order can make a bad scheduling situation worse. If you do this, you’ll find yourself wasting time on some projects, while important ones fall behind.
As you survey the work to be done, here are the keys to task analysis while learning how to make a schedule:
- The importance of each task. When you build a schedule, allot the most time to your highest value tasks. That starts by understanding how each task fits into your work. Mark them based on priority as you consider how to create a time management schedule.
- The time each task takes. Since you're making a schedule, you're working with a limited amount of time. Consider the time that each task takes so that you can size the calendar block.
- Other interdependent tasks. Think about how each task connects in your schedule. You can't send a report until the data that feeds it's ready, after all. Scheduling is the art of thinking forward (what will matter in the future) and backward (what has to happen before you can do your part.)
Learn more about time management and how to size a task with the help of our tutorial:
Again, everyone approaches task analysis differently. For example, you might choose to group tasks by the amount of time required. If you've got several ten-minute calls to schedule, you might opt to group them back to back. Events that last the full day require separate attention.
Scheduling also should focus on priority of completion. Imagine it’s July 14th. Smart scheduling wouldn’t involve planning out winter holiday shopping as a priority. It's a careful balance to tend to the present, while keeping an eye out for major projects in the future.
3. Evaluate Your Available Time
Once you’ve analyzed the events that you need to schedule, it’s time to focus on time itself. In essence, this means determining how much time you've got to spend on the tasks you’ve identified. Remember, tasks can be projects, meetings, trips, events, and more. Many of these fit into categories: work, personal, travel, and so forth.
Chances are, you use certain time slots for certain events. Here are a few ideas for how to divide your time effectively:
- You may prefer to schedule work tasks only during weekday business hours. If you're seeking work-life balance, a conscious effort to only schedule those tasks Monday through Friday.
- You may prefer to book travel time in the mornings or evenings. This avoids scheduling conflicts mid-day on other days.
- Highly recommended for effective scheduling: block off time for focused work. It might seem inorganic to plan time for thinking, but if you let your calendar fill with collaborative time, you won't do the deep thinking that creates great output.
- I set a scheduled block of time to catch up on email at the same time each week. I know this typically is best to do when meetings won't appear on my calendar.
Check out more quick tips to manage your time effectively with this bonus article:
You should also consider your total time relative to the tasks you need to schedule. In some cases, you may have months to work on tasks. Or you may be building a schedule for only a single day. The trick here is to be reasonable.
Plan to work within a period of time that you can manage. Don’t set yourself up for failure by overcommitting. Be realistic and schedule events in a way that you can follow regularly.
4. Match Tasks to Time
Matching tasks and time is the heart of how to make a schedule. After you ranked the items you’re scheduling, you examined the time you've got available. Now, it’s time to match tasks with the available time.
This circles back to how you prioritize tasks. If you’re scheduling by due date, begin adding the events into your planning tool. If you’re scheduling by the time involved, plan long or short-duration tasks first. If you’re planning specific days, work through them one-by-one.
By following the planning rules that work best for you, you can build an effective schedule that’s easy to stick to. Keep them in mind as you schedule tasks and events. In no time, you’ll create a clear and concise schedule that you can follow at a glance.
5. Plan for Balance and Change
What is effective scheduling that’s built to succeed? Flexible scheduling. If you’re planning to commit every hour of every day, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Doing this breaks the process in two ways. First, you don’t leave any slack in the line. If a single event runs late or gets moved, your entire schedule can break down.
"Set aside some personal time in your calendar. This gives you the space you need to relax, decompress, and just escape from the world for a while." - Rachelle Isip, The Order Expert
Secondly, you’re eroding your personal sense of balance. Remember to leave yourself time to rest and recharge. Don’t fear - you can actually schedule this time, too. The trick is to cut yourself some slack as well. Allow for time in which you don’t have to be anywhere, or work on anything.
This avoids symptoms of burnout. This isn’t being lazy; it’s working smart. If you’re rested and focused, you can ensure that your scheduling allows for success. You’ll be able to do your best work with ample energy to spare.
6. Be Dynamic and Update Often
Remember, scheduling isn’t a one-time exercise - it’s a dynamic process. As new tasks roll in, you need to continually update your schedule to include them.
While it may sound funny, it’s worth scheduling time to schedule time. In other words, take time each day (or even each week) to update your schedule with new events.
If you schedule ongoing projects, it also helps to have tracking milestones. Check in on scheduled tasks regularly. This helps you ensure that you always stay on schedule. Plus, it’s a great morale boost.
Looking at a schedule can be daunting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by how much you've got to do. Completing scheduled events is incredibly satisfying. Allow yourself plenty of recognition for how much you get done every day.
7. Implement Your Schedule
You’ve analyzed tasks and time. You’ve scheduled tasks, meetings, and events. And you’ve learned how to track your progress and recognize it. Now, it’s time to implement your schedule.
Effective scheduling works only if it becomes an integral part of your lifestyle. Schedules aren’t a set-and-forget tool that runs on autopilot. Instead, they’re living objects that should be refined continually.
Part of this, of course, comes from reading and following your schedule. But your schedule should evolve. Find yourself working too hard, struggling to meet deadlines, and getting burned out? Try to add more breathing room to your schedule.
On the other hand, you might find yourself with free time that you want to work with. You can always shuffle your schedule, working ahead on some projects in your extra time. This should be a regular process, in which you study your schedule and think of how well it works (or doesn’t work) for you.
Millions of Templates for Effective Scheduling
An important part of scheduling is organization. And the best way to organize your schedule is with premium templates from Envato Elements. Elements offers millions of creative assets like PowerPoint templates, graphics, icons, and more.
The offer is powerful: unlimited downloads. As a subscriber, you can download and use as many of these resources as you want. They’re the perfect way to start scheduling. In moments, you can use templates to create clear, concise, shareable schedules.
If you find that you don't have enough time in your schedule for every task, Elements is a tremendous help. With millions of creative assets, you'll leverage the work of other talented creatives. That frees up
Want a premium template, but prefer to download just one? Envato’s GraphicRiver has you covered. GraphicRiver too has millions of creative options available for individual purchase. No matter what site you choose, you’ll benefit from stylish designs and easy-to-use layouts.
You Learned How to Create a Time Management Schedule
Scheduling isn't an extra piece of work. Instead, it's a process that helps you do your best work. With a well-constructed time management schedule, you'll feel a sense of command and control. You'll see openings for time to do your best work and alleviate the stress of remembering everything.
You learned how to make a schedule with the help of our article. Now, go put it into practice! Choose a tool, start analyzing your work, and you're on your way to a sane schedule that sets you up for success.
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