First, this isn’t about how to make a daily schedule, it’s how to make a weekly schedule, but you’ll use it daily. Much like my meal plan, you’ll spend the some time upfront to make a plan, but then you’ll be able to reuse that plan week after week, only spending 15-30 minutes each week to customize it.
As I was putting together my schedule, I realized that I could use Scrum methodology to guide me. What is Scrum you ask? Well, it’s a methodology used in software development that is all the rage right now. The focus is on building the highest priority items quickly, and emphasizes an iterative and incremental progress. The work is time-boxed into a sprint – which can be 1-3 weeks.
The prioritization of items fit right in with my approach to schedule planning, and the time box also works because I am only going to have a fixed amount of time each week to work on my prioritized items. Usually Scrum has a team of 5-7 people including a Scrum Master. The prioritized list comes from the product owner. In my case, I am all of those roles, which makes it both easier and tricky. But, there is precedence of a “Scrum of One” – it can and has been done.
I recommend that you go through all the steps in my plan. You can skip the Scrum parts if you want, they are optional, but the planning doesn’t really work unless you work through all the tasks.
Creating a Daily Schedule
- Start by creating, updating, and or reviewing your values, priorities, and goals. I know I sound like a broken record about this, but when you are lost and overwhelmed, this is your compass. If you are anything like I am, and you want to get everything done, and you are constantly thinking of new projects, and then your distracted by the closet organization system ad on Facebook, and suddenly you’ve spent 30 minutes looking at closet organization systems, when that is not even on your project list (can anyone relate?) – then you NEED to do this. Confession: In the past I have gone through my priorities and also thought about goals, but this was the first time in a LONG time that I actually wrote them down. Now I have a Google doc with all of it on there for easy reference. If you need some help or prompting with this, you can review my original post about it, or Google it – there are lots of good articles on it. TIME ALLOTMENT: Allow up to 2 hours, you’ll probably be done sooner, but don’t short change this step.
- Let’s make some lists. We’ll come back to your compass, but now you need to go through an exercise of writing down everything that you need to do in a week. Just start writing them down – I did mine on a Google doc, which made it easier for the next steps, but whatever works for you. Try to think of everything – even if you only do that thing once a month or once a year. You don’t have to be specific about broad tasks like cleaning – just write “cleaning”, not “clean the fridge”, “clean the floors”, “clean the bathroom”, etc. But be specific about tasks that are bigger and different – for example, don’t lump in “Taxes” with “Bill Paying”. Think about your goals – include time to work on them. Include personal time – like breakfast and lunch (you have to eat!). TIME ALLOTMENT: 30 minutes – this should go quickly.
- The next list you want to make – if you don’t have this one already, is your project list. This is going to be your “Product Backlog” in Scrum terms. List all the things that you want to get done – home improvements, inside and outside, organization tasks, or personal/professional goals. This could also include a big event – like a family party or wedding – anything that is going to need some of your time to get it done, write it down. Get them all down on paper vs. taking up space inside your head. TIME ALLOTMENT: 30 minutes – to 1 hour. You probably already know most of them or already have a list going.
- Rank ’em baby! Now is when we circle back to step one – we are going to prioritize/rank/order your lists. The Scrum principle of ordering the Product Backlog takes into consideration many things – customer needs, ROI, timing, the marketplace, and the relative importance of each project and how that project contributes to overall business priorities and goals. Whether you decide to use the Scrum principle or not, you are going to want to end up with an ordered list with the item at #1 being the one you will work on first. Doing this for the daily task lists may be more difficult, as those lists are usually full of items that you *have* to do – like taking the kids to school, or paying the bills. Here’s where your personal goals and priorities will help, for example, if you have a goal of losing weight, then your daily exercise should be a higher priority. Don’t worry too much about the ordering – one of the underlying principles of the product backlog is that it is fluid due to the many environmental forces. As product owner, you can change your order each sprint. TIME ALLOTMENT: Depends on how long your list is, but probably a minimum of 30 minutes for both lists.
By now you are probably asking yourself if we are ever going to get to making a schedule. What does all this have to do with my daily schedule?? I’ve already spent 2.5 hours, and I still don’t have a schedule!
Trust me, these steps are necessary, and you’ll be glad that you completed them.
- Size each task. Our next step is to look at each task and try to estimate the effort required. In the scrum process, we use a point system (0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 21) or t-shirt sizes (sm, med, lg, xlg). The reason why we don’t get into a time-based estimate is that points/size tends to be more accurate. Again, this works more favorably with a team. Since we are a team of 1, you’ll have to rely on your own ability to estimate the effort involved in the task. You will get better at it the more you do it. If you’d prefer to assign a specific amount of time to the tasks, that is fine, it just might take you more time to do so. TIME ALLOTMENT: 15-30 minutes.
- Make your schedule!!! Yes, it’s time to make your schedule – this is only for Monday-Friday, from waking up to dinnertime (although you can go to bedtime if you want). I used a Google doc and created a table with the days across the top, and rows with 30 minute increments, like this:
Next, I started slotting in the daily tasks. Remember, this is just a template. You are going to customize every week, and maybe every day, so try not to get too hung up on this task. Start with the tasks that you are familiar with/already have a schedule – shopping on Monday morning, laundry on Tuesday afternoon, starting dinner every day at 5 PM, etc. Once you have all those tasks scheduled, start finding blocks of time that you can block out for projects. Finally, leave some slack time. Here’s my example:
Save this as “Schedule Template”, then make a copy of it with next weeks dates. TIME ALLOTMENT: 30 minutes.
Compare your calendar to the schedule – edit for appointments and other commitments.
Now you have a week-long daily schedule!
Stay tuned to find out how to use Scrum methodology in planning your projects and your day!