A few weeks ago, I decided to try following a rigid schedule. It's taken a long time for me to reach this point. Up until now, I've loved my routines and the flexibility they've given me to spend as much time on a given project as I'd like.
But I'd found so many projects piling up. Tasks on my to-do list that I've wanted to avoid, and projects that I've been excited about but just haven't found the time for. A schedule helps me fit these things in.
Over the past few weeks, I've made adjustments and tweaks to this schedule, but overall it's working out really well, far better than I had expected.
For me, the difference between a schedule and a routine is that a routine is more about following a sequence of events/tasks whereas a schedule is about setting specific time slots. (e.g. 9:30-10am write blog post)
Here are some things that I've found helpful in developing a schedule that works.
- Begin by listing your projects and how long you'd like to spend on them each day/week
- Know how long your productive span of focus is. Maybe you can write for six hours straight and that feels good for you. I often struggle with that and need shorter time spans on the scale of 15 minutes to an hour. Do what makes sense for you.
- Allow for long enough time brackets to get something done, but not so long that you feel burned out.
- Work with the time you have, and plan to show up at those times, whether it's what you most feel like or not.
- Be specific and eliminate decisions (plan your time for specific projects, rather than open ended goals like "create")
- Set a time goal rather than a product goal (e.g. Edit for an hour between 11-12, rather than finish a composite)
- Set alarms
- Evaluate as you go and make adjustments where needed.
These are just some of the things that have worked for me when setting a schedule for my creative work. It's been so much more helpful than I would have expected. If you, like me, hadn't ever taken the idea of a schedule seriously, it might be worth trying out for a week. Who knows, you might also find it boosts your productivity and helps your focus.