schedule hand iphone writing

The question I received recently from tumblr user @life-of-mack was this:  “How to make a practice/work/school schedule and stick to it?” That’s certainly a tough venture, sometimes.

The short answer? Discipline.

If only it were so simple, right? If the only reason we don’t stick to schedules was because we didn’t realize it takes discipline to do so, then the world would be a much more organized place. However, there are ways to make it easier to be disciplined.

Be realistic.

When I’m making up my schedules, I won’t lie. Sometimes I get a little aspirational about what I’ll actually do with my time. Adding in 7am yoga classes three days a week, on top of two hours of practice a day, on top of my classes and work schedule, plus an hour of “self-improvement” for studying German or something else. Needless to say, I have never actually attended a yoga class in my life.

The schedules that have worked out the best for me are the ones where I was realistic. No 7am yoga or bi-weekly face mask time. Just the plain and simple “here’s when my classes are, here’s the best time to eat, practice slots in well here, and I should probably study then.” Don’t include your hopes in a schedule. If you fail to actually make it to yoga, it’ll discourage you from even attempting to follow the rest of your schedule. If anything, leave that yoga time empty, and consider it a bonus if you actually manage to make it.

Be consistent.

Another problem with thrice-a-week yoga is that it leaves at least two other weekdays with free time. Keep your schedule as consistent as possible, from one weekday to the next. Yes, it might suck to have all your classes starting at 9am, or even (gross) 8am. However, it’s better to have all morning classes than an 8am three days a week and noon classes the other two. Trust me, unless you’re a true, actual, honest to god Morning Person™, you won’t get anything done those other two days. It’s just a fact of life, sorry.

This stands for your non-class commitments, too. Try to practice at roughly the same time every day, work out at the same time, eat at the same time, etc. If you can’t finagle a roughly similar schedule for your M-W-F and T-Th classes, then at least make sure you’re Doing Stuff for the same amount of time. It honestly feels good to know what your schedule is going to be, consistently, from day to day. It’ll help make it habit much more quickly than if every day of the week has its own routine.

Be open to change.

I have honestly never had a schedule that ended the semester the way it looked when it started. New obligations come up, new opportunities arise. You realize you absolutely Cannot go more than 4 hours without running to the student union for coffee – whatever. Roll with it. A schedule is supposed to make your life easier and allow you to fit everything you want in your day. It’s not supposed to be a chain that binds you.

The same thing goes for day-to-day distractions. It’s great if you want to make sure you practice for two hours a day, or if you want to go to the gym every evening. However, routines aren’t what gets remembered. It’s breaks from routine that do. If your friends are all going to a neat event, but you’re supposed to study during that time, take a moment to think about what you need to study for. Unless there’s an important test in the Near Future, why not go? Grades are important, but so is enjoying life. Just make sure that you do, in fact, study more nights than you don’t, and you’ll be fine.

You got this!

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