How to dominate your schedule


“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” – Miles Davis

Time is the most precious resource in the world and is one we cannot get back. We can’t create it, we can’t control it, and we can’t destroy it. So how do we make the most of the time that we have? You have to have some blueprint of how you’re going to use your time. Whether it’s a completely comprehensive planner that plans your day second by second, or just a rough estimate in your head, you must have an idea of how you use the 24-hours in a day that are given to you.

How to prioritize

Start with making a list of events that repeat from week-to-week and cannot be moved, like school, work, meetings, sports practice, piano lessons, family game night, etc. Anything that is fixed in your schedule and is not a one-off event.

Then make a list of all of the things you have to do on a weekly basis, but doesn’t have a set time, like meals or sleep. Other things that may go in this category: homework or exercise, if you read a newspaper or blog daily, maybe you have weekly plans to see a friend. Anything that happens every week, but doesn’t have to happen at a certain time.

Now make a list of all of the things you want or need to do on a weekly basis. Want to exercise more? Want to read more? Want to have more time to watch movies? Need to build in time to work on a project? More time for your friends or significant other? All of that goes here. Try to put the things in this list in order of importance to you.

Plan out your day

This is where we’re going to put these lists into a concrete schedule. You can put this in a planner or just have it mapped out in your mind. I like to plan things week-to-week first, then break it down day-to-day.

You’ll start your weekly schedule with the fixed items from our first list. For sake of example, I’m going to show you one day.

Monday

10-11:20am – Class

2-5pm – Class

6-8pm – Work

Now write down all of the things you have to do from list two, but don’t put them in your schedule yet.

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

8 hours of sleep

Editing for sports section of newspaper

Econ homework

Now write down the things in list three. Which of them needs to be done on a certain day? If you need time to see a friend, when are they available?

Dinner with Birny and JB at 8:30

Go to gym

Read a chapter of a book

Watch Monday Night Football

Now we prioritize. What’s most important? Start plugging things into your schedule starting with what’s most important. For me, I need my editing for the newspaper to be done by Tuesday, but Econ homework isn’t due until Friday. Dinner with my friends can only happen at 8:30, so we’ll plug that in first. Then we have to work in editing time and meals.

Monday

7am wake up – Breakfast

7:45-8:45am – Gym

9:00-9:45am – Shower and Get ready for Class

10-11:20am – Class

11:30am-12:30pm – Lunch

12:30 – 1:30pm – Editing for Newspaper

2-5pm – Class

6-8pm – Work

8:30-10pm – Dinner with Birny and JB somewhere we can watch Monday Night Football

10:15-10:45 – Read a chapter from a book

11pm – Go to bed

Here is my complete schedule written out. Normally I’d plan everything out in my head, but whichever way makes you more productive is the way you should go with. It is important to balance your schedule with what I call the Stress Hierarchy. Be sure that your schedule doesn’t have too many high stress activities and balances the ones you have with low stress, or relaxing, activities. This is why you want to schedule your week as a whole to ensure all of the high stress activities don’t all end up having to be crammed on the same day.

For me the gym, reading, and dinner and football with friends are stress relievers and help balance out editing for the newspaper, class, and work. Productivity does not mean constantly working. Productivity is about getting everything you need to get done on time and at a high quality. Without balancing the stress hierarchy, you will become buried in work and your quality will suffer.

Scheduling is a way to take control of your life and be intentional about how you spend your time. It gives you direction and keeps you on task. How you spend your time is the first place to look when trying to maximize your potential. Dominating your schedule is the first step to dominating your life.