Updated: Dec 21, 2020
I think most of us would agree under normal circumstance, i.e. pre Covid-19 crisis, having and keeping a schedule is a means of getting tasks, errands, projects or just daily responsibilities accomplished.
Now that we are immersed in the Covid crisis and so many aspects of our lives have been turned upside down, it is important now more than ever to have and maintain a strategic schedule.
You might think.. but I am just home, working p/t , or helping my kids with homework… why do I need a schedule?
In my personal and professional experience, whether you run a business or are a domestic goddess, creating a strategic schedule and following it provides significant benefits.
Having a strategic schedule is key to feeling some semblance of control at a time when not much feels like it is within our control. It also ensures that you are living according to your personal or professional values.
Additionally, keeping a strategic schedule makes it much more likely that you will end your day with a feeling of accomplishment and contentment- a balance that most of us struggle to strike -pandemic or not.
A well thought out schedule, conceived from roles and responsibilities as well as values and desires, serves as a guiding light navigating our way day to day. Lest you think this only works for those “rigid gotta have a plan types” know that this may be the antidote to your daily stress you’ve been searching for.
Creating a strategic schedule, or SS, starts with some introspective time. Carve out some time away from work, the kids etc. and sit down to some quiet time with your favorite beverage. On a notepad or laptop, start with the following categories in mind:
Ask yourself, “what is important to me in the following areas: My physical health and wellbeing My emotional / mental wellbeing My spiritual life My financial life My relationship- primary ( partner, spouse, significant other) My relationship- kids / stepkids/ extended family My relationships with friends Recreation/Rejuvenation Work Community
Now consider your first responses. Are they specific? Your first thought might be you want to “be healthier.” What does that mean for you? Do you want to drink more water, lose ten pounds, or get rid of your chronic headaches? Be specific about what you value and what you desire for each category.
For your relational categories, you might long to have a “better relationship” with your spouse or significant other. Do you desire to improve communication? Are you wanting more time or less time together?
Under the header of Work- does it mean you want to start a business once it is safe to venture out again? Do you want more responsibility at your work place? What do you value and desire to be different? Is this crisis perhaps opportunity to consider a different field of work?
Your next steps: List at least 3 specific actions, activities or events that would need to occur that would move you closer to what you say you value, in each category.
For example, in the category of “My physical health and wellbeing I value: Having a healthy immune system, maintaining my current weight, feeling strong in my body, and having sufficient energy levels to enjoy my day. In addition to feeling strong I want to improve balance and flexibility.
My actions are as follows: Take quality supplements daily. Eat healthy organic foods including plenty of protein and an array of fruits and vegetables at every meal. Prepare the majority of my meals at home. Lift weights, do yoga, and hike or walk 3-4x a week.
Once you identify which actions are congruent with your values and desires, then you are ready to architect your schedule.
The next part is simple. Your master strategic schedule will consist of “fixed bricks and flex time.”
Fixed Bricks are all those things at home or work, that you are required to do, either because your family or job depends on it, and /or you have already committed. A fixed brick might be taking your kids to school ( when they reopen), or it might now be conducting a daily conference call with your team at 9a.
Flex time on the other hand is that block of time you “schedule” to do nothing, keep your possibilities open to what you need in the moment, or say yes to an opportunity that comes your way for recreation, relaxation or connecting.
Any person, appointment, action or event that is important to you becomes a fixed brick you put in your daily or weekly schedule. Schedule fixed bricks first, and then add blocks of flex time.
With a little mental work up front, you can Marie Kondo a master strategic schedule that you can utilize and then assess and tweak 30-60 days later.
Lastly, different personalities and temperaments benefit from different scheduling strategies. Many people do well for example to keep their exercise same day/ time to cultivate a predictable routine. There are those who need to schedule similar activities all together and bust them out all at once, whereas others need to create a pattern of work/ reward …The trick is to know yourself and consider how you work best.
With strategic scheduling you can create your world to function more predictably resulting in decreased stress, and increased productivity. The result is purposeful living and a feeling of accomplishment and congruency. Strategic scheduling allows us to live with purpose rather than regret.