Time. There’s just never enough of it, right?
There’s always plenty of work, deadlines, errands, and objectives. And don’t forget our personal needs, too (oh yeah, those).
But what about the time we need to complete all of our tasks?
Do you ever look at others and wonder how they get so much done while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
If you ask them about their secret, there’s a good chance they’ll tell you it all comes down to one thing: creating a weekly schedule.
The beauty of scheduling is that it ultimately gives you more time. When you manage your time, it doesn’t manage you.
That means you can be more productive at work and have more free time at home.
In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of scheduling, how to create a weekly schedule, and give you some tools to make the process as easy and effective as possible.
Ready? Let’s jump in.
What are the benefits of maintaining a weekly schedule?
Keeping a schedule is helpful for many reasons, which we’ll dive into below.
Better time management
A schedule creates a predictable routine. It keeps you organized, helping you stay on top of your priorities and deadlines.
It also helps you break down bigger projects into bite-sized tasks.
You can also give yourself a daily allotment of time for social media and checking your personal email. These are classic time-wasting activities. But if you schedule them, you can set boundaries on when — and for how long — you’ll do them.
That will leave plenty of time for you to accomplish more important tasks on your to-do list.
Better for achieving goals
Creating a schedule requires sitting down and looking at all of your tasks for the upcoming week. That will help you separate the big, important tasks from the more minor ones. Having a clear understanding of your task load will help you remain focused on the bigger picture.
A schedule can also help you mark your progress as you chip away at your larger goals. As you feel that progress, you’ll get a boost of momentum and confidence to help you finish your projects with enthusiasm.
Better work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is strongly linked to increased productivity.
When you create a schedule, you can limit how much your work bleeds into your personal time. And because you’re more effective at work, you need less time to complete it — and can therefore preserve those sacred, off-the-clock hours.
It’s best to schedule your personal and social time in your calendar as well. Rather than leaving it to a whim, you’ll be protecting this important time.
Without a schedule, these vital areas of life are far too easy to neglect. That’s bad for not only employees but also companies as a whole.
Better health and happiness
Humans thrive with routines. Scheduling gives you a sense of agency over your life, which can help reduce stress, lead to better sleep, etc.
As mentioned earlier, scheduling can help you increase your productivity and achieve your biggest goals. This leads to feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction, which, in turn, improve overall happiness.
Most importantly, a proper schedule helps you set aside quality time to spend with your friends and family. These relationships are some of the best indicators of overall well-being.
Creating your weekly schedule
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a weekly schedule for better time management and a healthier work-life balance.
1. Start with priorities and goals
Highly productive people don’t just set weekly goals — they prioritize their workflow to achieve them.
Your first step is to jot down your biggest priorities for the week. And not just your professional goals but also your goals in your personal life.
Maybe you need to lay the groundwork this week for a major project that’ll cause you stress if you put it off. Or perhaps you need to fight fires by catching up on last week’s tasks. Or maybe you’ve been working too much, and your biggest priority this week is to spend time with your kids or significant other.
Your schedule will change every week. So be sure to create it based on the most important goals in your head.
2. Brainstorm all tasks
It’s time for a brain dump. Your job now is to write down every little task you can think of that you’ll need to complete this week.
For clarity, create overarching categories such as “Work,” “Home,” and “Social,” and place each idea in its corresponding section.
Then, as you brainstorm your individual tasks, you can place them where they belong. Seeing these groupings will ensure clarity as you get into the later steps of making your schedule.
3. Estimate time to complete tasks
After you write out your tasks, start calculating how long each task will take.
Be realistic, and account for inevitable breaks and interruptions. Estimating the time for each task will make your schedule more achievable and prevent you from over-committing. It will also help you flesh out each task so that you can schedule your time appropriately.
There are many tips for estimating. These include the following:
- Use past experience, records, or insights from co-workers
- Estimate bigger projects by calculating the time it takes for each sub-task and then adding them together
- Use a time tracker for tasks you must complete every week
4. Block out time for top priorities and fixed commitments
In this step, you’ll start to populate your schedule. But once again, start with your top priorities and fixed commitments that can’t change.
Starting the schedule this way will ensure that you keep those priorities and commitments top of mind. It will also show you where you have time — and exactly how much time you have.
So write down appointments, deadlines, and meetings.
Then, write in top-priority tasks, allocating ample time to complete each one. We recommend scheduling those important tasks for when you’re likely to be fresh, such as in the morning or right after lunch.
5. Complete the rest of the schedule
With your top priorities and fixed commitments in place, you can fill the remaining time slots in your schedule with your remaining tasks.
6. Incorporate contingency time
Be careful not to over-schedule yourself. If you’re too rigid or try to fill every nanosecond — giving yourself no breathing room — your schedule is bound to fail, and your routine will fall apart.
It’s far better to build flexibility into your calendar. For some, that may mean an extra hour or two at the end of each day. Others may prefer most of the final day of the workweek to be left open for catching up on tasks.
Contingency time gives you wiggle room for unexpected events, like traffic jams or last-minute requests from your boss. It is a lifesaver when things don’t go according to plan.
7. Incorporate personal time
Save the best for last. Don’t feel the least bit guilty adding your personal needs to your schedule.
In fact, guaranteeing personal care is one of the biggest advantages of scheduling.
This “me time” will help recharge your batteries and make you more productive on the job, improving your overall happiness as a result.
Just note that, as with work tasks, you’ll need a sense of your personal time priorities each week. Start with the most important times to set aside, then go from there.
If you’ve gotten to this part of the schedule and realized you didn’t allow enough time for your personal needs, consider whether you’re taking on too much. Maybe there are tasks or roles you can let go of or delegate to others to ensure you have enough time for self-care and family.
What are the consequences of not scheduling?
Here are just a few of the consequences that can result from a lack of scheduling:
Not having a schedule can result in a lack of clarity on how to manage your time. This can lead to delays, procrastination, false starts, and empty errands.
Having no schedule can also make it more difficult for you and your co-workers to determine times during which to coordinate. It can even lead to last-minute cancellations due to forgotten priorities.
Not staying on top of your schedule often leads to projects falling by the wayside until the last possible moment.
This can result in the following:
- Missing a deadline because you’ve completely forgotten about it
- Stressful bouts of catching up
- Overcommitting, then drowning in work
Ultimately, without a weekly plan in place, you can lose control over your time and feel like a victim to your workload.
Negative effects on health and well-being
Remember the benefits of scheduling on health and happiness mentioned earlier? The opposite is true, too.
Having no schedule can be overwhelming and ultimately lead to bad habits and poor health-related choices. It also makes it harder for you to set aside time for relationships and personal wellness.
These effects can reduce your overall happiness, ultimately making you less productive and more overwhelmed. And it becomes a vicious cycle.
How to stick to your schedule
We don’t want you to make a schedule once, then go back to struggling. The tips below will help you turn the benefits of making a weekly calendar into a lifelong habit.
Establish a weekly planning day and time
Set aside the same day and time each week to create your schedule. While everyone is different, Sunday night is typically a good time for looking at the week ahead.
Be flexible and tinker
The purpose of a schedule isn’t rigidity — it’s organization.
That means it’s okay if you need to stay flexible and shift things around when necessary. If you’re not allowing for spontaneity or possible change, you’re more likely to grow frustrated with your schedule and stop creating one every week. Experiment with what works for you.
Reflect on each week
Don’t just look ahead.
Reflect on each past week so that you can notice trends, improve your time allotment for tasks, and overcome challenges.
Remember, your schedule is your schedule
Ultimately, what works for you is the most important factor when you’re making your weekly schedule. Over time, you’ll find the schedule that’s best for you.
What are the advantages of using scheduling software?
In today’s world, we’re lucky — we have great software options that help make scheduling simple and more easily integrable into our lives. Here are some of the advantages of using scheduling software:
It can help you save time
How would you like to save two hours at work every day? That’s what effective scheduling can do for you.
One way you save this time is by using powerful software with advanced features, such as schedule automation.
You can automate tasks
Scheduling software also helps you save time with automated tasks, such as automatic reminders and recurring tasks that the software fills in for you.
And the fact that these tasks are automated means you can focus on more productive work.
You can share tasks and schedules
Scheduling software makes it easy to assign tasks, share project workflows, and coordinate schedules. Team members can easily view each other’s schedules and collaborate more readily.
Viewable schedules lead to more productive teamwork and save time, as there’s no need to communicate back and forth to schedule a meeting.
You can always access your schedule
With scheduling software, your schedule is always in your pocket. That means you can always view and modify it, even if you’re away from the desk.
You can integrate and easily modify your schedule
Good scheduling software integrates with email, your smartphone calendar, and other digital tools. And when something comes up, it’s a breeze to modify your tasks or move things around.
Get started on your weekly schedule
It’s time to get to it!
Creating a schedule will take time and effort — after all, you’re building a new habit. But this habit will serve you well for the rest of your life.
In the future, you’ll be one of those people others look at, wondering how they get it all done.
Commit to the ongoing process of weekly scheduling, and you’ll be better able to manage your time — and, ultimately, enjoy your life.
If you need help getting there, Motion’s AI-powered software has advanced features that can help you create a weekly schedule that works. It can build your to-do lists, help schedule meetings, and organize your project workflows. And it can also automate tasks and adapt automatically as priorities shift.