Maybe it’s because I’m German (because we, as a nation, LIKE organisation and punctuality, having schedules we can follow and To Do lists we can tick items off of), maybe it’s just the way I am as an individual, but I do like to be organised.
I’m used to schedules and deadlines, and even though I do enjoy days of doing nothing, I always go to bed feeling guilty because of all the things I didn’t get done.
So here’s a glimpse at my current weekly schedule:
I currently work part-time, on account of being a student again, and now I have to fit my studies into my week. Contractually, I work 15 hours per week, but I usually end up doing at least an hour or two overtime per day. So I’ve blocked out my work hours, added another hour and I usually work through my lunch as well. So that entire chunk in orange and grey is out-of-bounds.
My university degree is by distance learning, so I have to be very disciplined in order to get any studying done. I have to do two courses at the same time. The modules will change as the year progresses, so I’ve just called them MA CCC I and MA CCC II (CCC stands for Cross-Cultural Communication). Per course, I’m required to devote 15-20 hours per week to my studies, so this schedule will give me 17 hours per course to be on the safe side.
Blocks of study time are broken up by an hour of writing, though that can be used to be creative in any way. After all, I do have ROW80 and in November also NaNoWriMo to think about.
The blocks labelled Uni / Studying are there in case I need more time to finish a task or I have other short courses (I’m currently still completing a TEFL course and a module on Creative Writing). I know some modules will be easier than the next, and I might be required to put in extra hours to research or finish a paper. These yellow blocks will make sure I have the time for that.
I’ve set time aside to blog in order to write and schedule blog post for this blog and my travel website and generally being online.
I’ve set an hour aside for grocery shopping on Saturdays at my usual time as getting to the shops involves a bit of a drive and it usually takes me 45-60 minutes for the entire trip, depending on how busy it is. All other things around the house (laundry, cleaning etc.) I usually do during lunch and dinner breaks anyway, so I don’t schedule them in. For example: I know Saturday is my laundry day, so I know I’ll put the first load on after breakfast and put the last one up to dry after I return from my shopping trip.
You might think that this schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time to be social. I live in a city where nothing ever happens. I might go out for a coffee with friends now and then, but I can easily schedule that on an adhoc basis and use either blogging or extra uni time.
When it comes to planning your week, I find it very important to schedule everything with YOU in mind. For example, you’ll see that some days, my schedule runs until 1am. That’s because I’m a nightowl. Always have been. We all are in my family. Even when I try to get to bed early, I don’t actually fall asleep before 3am most nights. No matter that my alarm rings at 6.45am the next morning. I’m usually on the computer anyway, writing or reading, so I might as well incorporate that into my schedule. Also: I do my best studying and writing on Saturday nights. I could have scheduled up until 3am for Saturdays, but alas, I ran out of space on the page.
Same goes for long-standing appointments. Sunday morning breakfast/brunch with my dad is often the only time per week we see each other and actually talk. It’s part of the routine, so it goes on the schedule.
I usually colour-code (and spend a LOT of time fussing over the colours so they are not too similar next to each other – it’s probably mild OCD) so I can see at a glance what block of time I’m in. I’ll put the schedule up above my desk so I see it whenever I look up (my desk is against the wall). I’ll also glue a copy into my weekly planner.
Which brings me to the next item: Use an agenda!
I currently use a Korsch Verlag Times Big18 Balaton agenda. It’s an 18-month, A5 size weekly calendar. Moleskine does similar ones.
It’s an academic calendar, so it starts in October 2014 and ends in March 2016. 18 months instead of the usual 12. This means I can schedule ahead and still have everything in one place.
I glue my weekly schedule in the front, so I always have it on me. I’ve also printed out a course plan for the academic year, showing how long each module lasts. This went in the front of the agenda as well (I don’t usually need all the Holiday Times and International Dialling Codes pages).
The left side of a double page in this planner is a week, displayed vertically. The right hand side is ruled for extra notes. I decided on this type of planner because of the extra space for notes. This way, I have my whole week at a glance and all the notes and To Do’s etc. I need.
This is what this week looked like for me:
I colour-code in my agenda as well.
On the Notes Page, I use stickers, post-its, washi tape and everything else I can find. This way, the page pops out and you end up reading it. Washi tape can be used to border lists off or to mark an entire week on the left side. For example: Finals Week. Put tape from the top to the bottom of the page, and write FINALS on the tape. You’ll know it’s Finals Week and still have plenty of space for your normal appointments and notes. It also stands out more when you just flick through your agenda.
I’m a big fan of customization, so I use a variety of things:
The stickers are Smash Book accessories, like the Arrow Notepads and the Red and Blue Stickies. They say things like “Do Not Forget” and “I will make this” which can help emphasise a task. The colour pens are Stabilo Trio 2 in 1’s which have are fine liner and felt-tip pen in one. And my favourite pen is the Smash Books Stick Pen, which has a fine liner on one side and glue on the other, in case those stickers don’t stick the way they should.
The arrow index flags can be labelled with permanent markers and are see-through, so they are excellent for marking days with deadlines by using them as an index or to highlight changes in appointment times.
The transparent page markers with colour blocks at the side are perfect for me as they correspond with my colour-codes. I use them to “pencil in” things and I use them as index tabs.
My agenda lives in my handbag, so I always have it handy. In my life, organisation is key. If it’s not on the schedule and not written down somewhere, I’ll forget it.
Maybe this post gave you ideas to organise your week too.
- Create a weekly schedule for work/study/hobbies/fixed appointments
- Colour-code blocks for easy reference
- Take YOUR life, habits and routines into account (times you are most active, recurring appointments etc.)
- Take creative / social breaks
- Plan in more time than you need, just in case
- Put the schedule where you’ll see it (desk/fridge/door/agenda)
- Use an agenda
- Colour-code agenda entries and corresponding notes
- Use stickers, post-its etc. to make appointments and notes stand out.
- Use tabs/index flags to mark important dates at a glance