“Just follow a schedule.”
We’ve all heard it. Like it this suggestion never occurred to anyone before ever. It’s so obvious, why didn’t I think of that? Maybe that four-word sentence-command is a lot more complicated than it appears.
Sometimes the command to “just follow a schedule” is followed up with a suggestion that works for the person who told you to do this. Well, that’s great that that tool or system works for them, but what if it doesn’t work for you?
There are so many different tools to keep track of a schedule. Someone more artistic than me should make a fun little quiz/flow chart that will lead someone to the tool that works for them.
The best tool to keep track of a schedule is the one you will actually remember to use and continually look at. What works for one person may not work for another.
Here are some things to consider when picking a tool to help with your schedule:
- Do you want something physical or digital?
- How do you like to see your schedule? Day by day? Week by week? Month by month? Some other way?
- How detailed do you need your schedule?
- Do you need a schedule broken down hour by hour/minute by minute? Do you just need a daily “to do” list?
- Is there a certain utensil you like to write with? Pen? Pencil? Marker?
- Do you think using different colors, stickers, or markers will help?
- Do you need visual or audio reminders to follow the schedule? How will you remember you made this schedule?
- When will you make your schedule? At the beginning of each day? Each week? Each month? Something else?
- Would a combination of tools help? What would that be?
- How many different places do you need this schedule? How will you remember to write down the schedule in all the different places (if it isn’t digital and synced together already)?
- Do you like writing on paper? Whiteboard? Chalkboard? Do you prefer to type? What font(s) do you like best?
- How portable does your master-schedule need to be?
- How important is schedule flexibility?
- Are you an “out of sight, out of mind” type person? Knowing this about yourself, how would you adapt, or use this awareness to keep your schedule?
- Would something table-top or on the wall be better?
- How frequently do you need appointment/schedule reminders?
- When you first think “I’m going to make a schedule” what image(s) come to mind? What method excites you the most?
- Do you like using phone apps? What phone apps could you use to help stick to a schedule?
- If you are using something tangible and portable like a planner, how will you not lose the planner?
- Is this tool or system sustainable? What would make it sustainable? How long does it need to work?
Just because one method of keeping track of your schedule is working for you currently, doesn’t mean it will always work. It’s okay to need different scheduling tools at different points in your life. You aren’t marrying your planner, it’s okay to switch methods based on needs.
If you’re curious about what has been working for me, keep reading this paragraph. Otherwise just jump to the end. I personally like having a big month-long view of everything I have to do, and a more detailed week-view. I have on my wall a month-long whiteboard calendar with a margin for notes (it came with fun magnets for things like “due”, “holiday”, “appointment” etc.) which is helpful. On the wall next to it I also have a more detailed week-long whiteboard calendar with a little more room to write each day. I use different colors for different types of things (appointments, work, school, holidays, etc.) to easily see at a glance what type of thing(s) I have each day. I write on the month-long calendar as things come up, and the week-long calendar on Sundays. Now I obviously won’t be carrying these wall calendars with me everywhere, so I also use my phone calendar when I’m out and about and need to make appointments, then I set reminders or alarms on my phone to remind myself to transfer them to the wall calendars. This system is working great while I work from home in quarantine because I’m not leaving my house much. I can see the pitfalls in this system when I’m out more and will probably switch to using my phone calendar more than I do.
Again, the best scheduling tool(s) are the ones you are actually going to use, remember to look at, and continue to use. You got this. You know how organized you need to be, find a tool that meets your needs. You aren’t a failure if a tool doesn’t work for you- the tool is the failure for not working for you.