Time Management Schedule
How to Make Yours Work

Do you use a time management schedule?  More to the point, do you actually stick to it?

For most of us, the answer is probably ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.

To some degree, we all rely on schedules.

Whether we create them ourselves or use others’, a few anchors of certainty dropped throughout the week are a good idea for most of us.

They allow us to plan what we want to do around what we’re committed to doing.

The trouble is, most schedules don’t actually work. Sure, they’re a good idea. But more often than not, people don’t stick to them.

What is a Time Management Schedule?

A popular misconception is that a schedule limits ‘freedom’, but in fact the opposite is true.

A time management schedule supports your current life choices (i.e. your current commitments) by automatically organizing them so you don’t have to constantly decide what to do when.

It’s simply a tool to identify how much time you really have to do three types of things:

  • ‘Must Do’ Activities:  The essentials -- sleep, food and rest -- all vary in terms of how long they take, but they have to be done.
  • ‘Committed To’ Activities:  Timetabled activities such as lectures, meetings or clubs that take a length of time set for you.
  • ‘Choose To' Activities:  Whatever you’re left with is free time: ‘You’ time to use exactly as you choose, from moment to moment.

It’s actually more accurate to say a time schedule helps you decide how long to do what you must do based on your commitments so you can see what time you’ve got left to use as you choose.

How to Make a Schedule

You can use pen and paper or whichever digital device you prefer to do this, although a spreadsheet is easy to use and adjust.

Draw up a plan of your week. Break it down into days and subdivide each day into hourly or half hourly slots. If you want to make your time management schedule really accurate, organize it around the fixed times in each day if you have them.

On your schedule, start by blocking off your regular obligations and commitments:

  • Sleeping
  • Meals
  • Morning routine
  • Travel time
  • Clubs, teams or societies you’re part of
  • Regular work and study commitments for each day of the week - meetings, lectures etc.

These are the anchors that hold together your week.

Whatever you have left of your 168 hours is yours to use as you choose.

How you choose to use your own time determines the level of success you experience.


  • Schedule time for the important but not urgent activities in your life that make the most difference to your long term success and happiness. The time management matrix has more on this.
  • Leave some ‘open’ time in your schedule. This gives you a degree of flexibility so you can absorb the changes to your schedule that inevitably happen along the way.
  • Review it periodically. Every month, term or semester, check over your schedule to make sure it’s still helpful and relevant. You’ll probably want to make some adjustments


  • Fall into the trap of taking on too many commitments. It’s tempting to fill all those white gaps on your daily or weekly planner. But over-scheduling creates guilt when you don’t, won’t or can’t meet the demands you set for yourself. If you’re not careful, the result is stress and burnout.
  • Worry when you can’t or don’t stick to your schedule. In life the only certainty is uncertainty, so It’s bound to happen from time to time -- expect the unexpected. A schedule is meant to be a guide to help you, not a stick to beat yourself with.
  • Use it as a task list. The purpose of a time management schedule is to identify what you’re doing and when so you can make the most of your unstructured time.

Making and using a time management schedule that works will help you become more efficient at doing what you have to do so you have more time to do what you want to do. 

Do you need to get a better balance in your life?

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Time Management Success

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