Key Takeaway: Having a regular schedule daily and weekly, even if you’re not a student anymore, contributes significantly to productivity, efficiency, and effectivity. It enables you to practice good time management and get more things done without losing your head. Try making one visually and set it somewhere you can see easily!
When I was in university, my friends and I would, after enlisting for our classes for the upcoming term, create our schedules, color-code them, even, then upload them to Facebook and tag each other to check for common classmates and breaks. Things became more creative, and, taking inspiration from several of them, I made several of them Pokémon-inspired, such as the one below (my last one in college).
On my part, when I was still starting out in university, I also made this colorful and smartphone-friendly (or print-friendly, if it came to that) schedule for myself because I was scared of getting lost or late. I still had that feeling, sort of, even as I was graduating – I just wanted to make sure I got to class on time and in the right place. But after graduating, the need for a schedule ceased… or at least, I thought I didn’t need it any more.
How very wrong I was.
I’ve learned through experience, and the hard way – in fact, I still do today – that good time management is what enables you to spring up from good to great, from ordinary to extraordinary, from Plain Ol’ You to The Best You Can Be. Good time management is Making The Most personified – it allows you to structure your day to do what you need (or want) to do, and lessening the risks of overlooking them (and thus ending up cramming – again, something I still deal with now). It answered my questions of why, and how, my top-performing friends were able to do what they did.
Time management is a practical way of putting into motion what you’ve planned. By cutting down your goal into bite-sized pieces, you now know to devote x time to this affair regularly, give or take a few. You’d be relieved to know you don’t have to end up slaving over it today, and then feel so dreadful about it that you eventually give up on the fourth day. On the contrary, by setting aside just this amount of time needed, you’ll be able to do other things you want to do.
This is why I learned that a schedule is still important – in fact, it is more important. By following a schedule, I was able to do more things I wanted to do, such as insert time for tea and books, and still be productive at the end of the day. By not following it, which happens much more often, I stress myself out.
An article by Sam Creighton that came out last year in The Daily Mail depicts the regular daily schedules of some of history’s most famous intellectuals and artists (based on their own diaries and writings), based on a book by Mason Currey and using clock-like illustrations by RJ Andrews. For example, the Russian composer Tchaikovsky woke up at 8 am; had tea, a smoke, and Bible or philosophy reading until 9 am; took a walk for thirty minutes before doing proofreading and correspondence; composed until lunchtime and then ate for an hour; took a two-hour walk after until 3 pm; had tea and newspaper or journal-reading until 5 pm; composed again until 7 pm, at which he had a one-hour gap time; then had dinner and socialized with guests or read again from 8:00 pm to 12:00 am, upon which he went to bed. This was his lifestyle at least between 1885 and 1893.
I was so inspired by this that I created my own, ideal, schedule, which, sad to say, I do not get to follow. Perhaps I have been too ideal or strict with myself, and as of this moment I’m reworking it, but here’s the one I revised about a month ago.
(The character in the middle, 蔡, is my surname in Chinese).
Again, I admit I don’t stick to the schedule as much as I should. But I do make an effort to try to stick to at least some of it – take one step at a time!
One of my biggest flaws is inconsistency. I’d like to believe my self-discipline level is very high, but it is not. I can get racked up and produce work upon work, then forget about it the next day. As someone trying to become an entrepreneur, I know the dangers of this – it is not sustainable living. It is pointed out to me all the time, in fact, by someone who became successful through immense self-discipline, always getting something accomplished everyday. And how is this done? By scheduling.
Although he spent only four hours a day composing, Tchaikovsky created 11 operas and 8 symphonies in his career. Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life, in fact, states that reading the Bible 15 minutes a day can get you through the whole book in one year; 30 minutes a day and you get to finish it in half a year. So, what matters more is consistency and the maintenance of good habits, than how much work you actually produce in a given timeframe. (It’s also important, true, but again, discipline ranks higher.)
I said earlier that scheduling gets you get the job done. Writing for The Huffington Post, Larry Kim says that to-do apps actually hamper productivity because unfinished tasks get left behind and you slowly start to ignore it (I have one such task in my list actually). Scheduling is better. As such, my new go-to productivity app is 24me, a “smart personal digital assistant” that can schedule your day efficiently and by default does it by day rather than by category. You can even make events recur, like in Todoist, another of my relied-on productivity apps (though as not much, since it is more a to-do list).
If you sometimes lack motivation or discipline like I do, it may help to create a visual schedule like the one Andrews made for The Daily Mail that I took inspiration from to create my own. Then, put it somewhere you can easily see, such as the wallpaper of your laptop or tablet – or even print it out and frame it! (Though I’d advise against this since I prefer paperless when possible. Hehe.)
In my next post, I’ll outline detailed instructions on how I created my daily schedule.
Here’s to a productive week on Monday! Happy weekend!