How to Make an Effective Daily Schedule

Have you ever been frustrated about getting to the end of your exhausting day and it seems as if you have gotten so little done? Wouldn’t it be great to get to the end of your day knowing that you have done what was most important to reaching your goals?


In this article, I am going to answer the what, why, and how of developing an effective daily schedule. If you apply this material to your life, you can expect to have a greater satisfaction at the end of each day.

It is the satisfaction that comes with knowing that you may not have done everything that you wanted to do, but you have given serious effort to those things that are most important.


What is an effective daily schedule? An effective daily schedule is a list of things that you plan to do during a series of time periods throughout the day. There are somethings that you should plan to do because they support your goals and are significantly under your control.

There will be times that you will have to make judgment calls regarding how to handle unexpected things that call you away from your plans. Aim to do what is important to your goals, instead of running around putting out fires that really don’t relate to your goals and should be put out by someone else.


Why should you have an effective daily schedule? The reason you should have effective daily schedules is because they can help you reach your goals. If you use your days and weeks well, you will be able to easily use your months, quarters, and years well.

However, if you keep wasting or mismanaging your days, you miss out on your goals. And you will began to lose heart and probably stop even setting goals.

How do you develop effective daily schedules? Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Write down all that you do on a daily basis. Write down all that you do in the morning (i.e., daily or at least weekly) to get from the bed to your job. Write down at that you do (i.e., daily or at least weekly) to get from the job back to bed. Now, write down what you do on your job on a daily or weekly basis.

Obviously, if you work in the evening or don’t have a job, you would modify your lists. Make sure you add some planning time either in the morning or evening. Make sure you include things like cleaning your house, exercising, meal preparation, etc.


2. Put the items in a block of time. You probably already have things that you do in the morning, afternoon, or evening. That is fine. The idea is to put everything that you are trying to do in a category of time. You may even want to call your categories first, second, third, and fourth quarter of the day. Whatever works for you.


3. Work on developing a timed list of important things to do. Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has a great section on “The Time Management Matrix.” The gist of his idea is that items fall into categories of important or unimportant to your goals. Some of the items in both categories are urgent or not urgent; thus, the four quadrants.


Go through your timed lists with a mind to put an “I” next to items that are important and a “U” next to items that are unimportant. Now, go back and add items that you believe would be helpful for you in reaching your goals. Place these helpful items in the appropriate block of time. Put an “H” next to these items, these are items you hope to add to your list.


If they are not already on your lists, make sure you add some time to work on your physical and mental health, time for family and friends, time to review and make adjustments with your finances, time to engage in meaningful service, and time to relax and refocus on what you are trying to do with your life. I am sure you may have other items to add.


4. Compose a timed list that moves closer to what supports your goals. This step calls for getting rid of some of the unimportant items and adding some of the hoped for items. I would urge you to pace yourself. It would not be good to cut all unimportant items and add 15 hoped for items in one day.

It is better to take a few steps a day in the right direction than to take a gigantic leap, fail to keep up the intentions, get discouraged, and quit. The aim here is to run a marathon, not a sprint.


5. Do a 30 day experiment and grow from there. One great thing about an experiment is that you can learn from things working out as you planned and you can learn from things going contrary to what you planned. That is the nature of an experiment.


Thirty days is a doable amount of time. Seven to 10 days may not give you enough time to really learn what works and doesn’t work. And such a short amount of time may not give you a strong enough start with developing great habits.


Ninety days or more will give you more data for learning and help you develop a stronger habit. But 90 days can seem to be so long. So do a 30 day experiment, learn what you need to learn, and do another experiment, learn what you need to learn, and so on. Three 30 day experiments is more doable than a 90 day experiment.


I would recommend that you do some kind of journaling about what is working and not working. I also recommend that you make some kind of checklist, so you can monitor are you really doing what you said you would do or not. An accountability partner can be very helpful to keep you moving in the right direction with your daily scheduling.


Make sure you take some time to give yourself credit for trying. You deserve credit for making it to the end of the 30 days. Make sure you write down the lessons that you have learned. And get started with a doing an even better job with the next 30 day experiment.


So, there you have the what, why, and how of developing an effective daily schedule. Reading is a nice start but a terrible finish. Make sure you use this material to help you manage your time and develop helpful habits and routines that support your goals.

Related Articles -
- 7 Tips for How to Stay Focused

- Top Time Management Tips

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