Simplify Your Schedule in 3 Steps

Are you overbooked? Do you find yourself wondering how on earth you’re going to get to everything on your calendar? Here is a short survey to determine if your schedule is in need of a makeover:

  • I eat at least one meal per day on the go.     True    False

  • I routinely arrive late to activities/meetings.     True    False

  • I feel overwhelmed when I look at my calendar.     True    False

  • I have trouble finding time to exercise.     True    False

  • I rarely spend with my partner or friends.     True    False                                              

How many of these statements are true for you? Even one true answer indicates your schedule may be unhealthy for you. When the day is defined by rushing around, missing, skipping or arriving late for activities because you’ve run out of time, you may be ready for a schedule makeover. An overbooked routine has negative emotional and physical consequences. Stress, sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating and lack of exercise are harmful behaviors that result from overextending yourself. The good news is you can create a healthier, more balanced routine by making a few small changes. 

  1. Make a list of every meeting, appointment, social engagement and gathering for the next month. Include one-time events, recurring obligations and leisure activities. 

  2. Review your list and identify your primary responsibilities. Primary responsibilities anchor your routine, and neglecting them can have serious consequences. Also make note of the things you would like to do but rarely have time for.

  3. Enter all primary responsibilities into your calendar – that includes meetings, school conferences and medical appointments. But that’s not all. Be sure to add essential household tasks. How does it feel when your wardrobe shrinks because the wash hasn’t been done all week or when you scramble to put a meal together with ingredients from a half-empty pantry? Adding tasks like laundry and food shopping to your calendar will make them more likely to happen.

Make sure you categorize your activities properly. If you do not label exercise as a core activity, think again. It may seem like a luxury when you have so much to do, but exercise is critical for emotional and physical health. You may need to modify your exercise plan at times, but I caution against labeling it as non-essential. The same is true for sleep, socializing and self-care. Dedicating even a little time to these essential activities can ward against burnout. 

Pay special attention to the activities you enjoy but interrupt your schedule. Some examples include Netflix, Facebook, Instagram…you see where I’m going with this. Although they are enjoyable while you are involved, they have the potential to leave you feeling guilty, unsatisfied or stressed afterward. I’m not suggesting you eliminate them, but manage your use. Schedule leisure time to watch your favorite show or scroll through social media, but set a start time AND an end time. Identify what is most meaningful and downsize the rest. 

Remember, we control our schedules, our schedules do not control us!

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