Keeping a human schedule (and how to make one)

After saying "Sorry guys, another time" for the millionth time, I decided to take action before this could have any adverse effects on my relationships. I decided on creating a schedule.

Keeping a human schedule (and how to make one)

What is a human schedule? A human schedule is one where besides work, you plan in time for your family, friends, chores and your hobby's. While working remotely frees up tremendous amounts of time (no more commutes or staying late for drinks), it's tempting to work from the moment you open your eyes until midnight.

Some people can do this, but most of us mortals need to find a healthy balance between our work, leisure and personal development hours.

This is where a schedule can help you out.

Why I chose to keep a schedule

While I love my job, I noticed that my work hours got longer and longer. Most days I would write my daily update in Basecamp around 5:30 PM, but still found myself working on some task late at night.

As a consequence of not having any set work hours, I often took on to many tasks. The first days I felt productive, but while big tasks were getting dealt with all the small ones kept piling up. Which resulted in the small, but not less important, tasks taking ages to complete or worst being forgotten. I just didn't have any headroom to deal with those tasks at the time.

On the other hand, I had less time for my friends and family. Often while my friends were enjoying a night out, I did not make time for those activities because I wanted to fix some bug.

After saying "Sorry guys, another time" for the millionth time, I decided to take action before this could have any adverse effects on my relationships. I decided on creating a schedule.

I don't think a schedule needs to be something that is planned by the minute but instead splits the day up in time periods in which you work towards specific goals.

My schedule

6:45 - 9 AM | Getting ready, exercise and "me time"

I start the day with my morning routine, more about that in my previous post. I mainly do the same things every single morning.

9 - 9:30 AM | Fires and planning for the day

With my second or third cup of coffee, I open my mail and Basecamp and let all the notifications flow in. Are there any fires that I need to put out asap? Is there anyone who wants a one on one with me?

After I estimated these things, I know what my day is going to look like. I'll open our group chat to say good morning to the team. The workday has officially started!

9:30 AM - 6:30 PM | Work, work, work

I set my work hours to be from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Wait didn't I say 6:30? I did! I usually have dinner with the family around 6:30, but sometimes fires occur throughout the day that need fixing. That's why I always keep an extra hour, in which I don't plan any regular tasks, so I'll never miss family time (still didn't miss one 🎉).

There are days that no fires occur, then I'll use this time to write my daily updates or finish work that took a little bit more time than expected. All in all, I get plenty of stuff done in this time frame.

6:30 PM - Sleep | Family, friends, hobby's, and education

The evenings are not about work for me. While sometimes I do take some time to learn, I'll only do it when I feel like it.

The evenings kicks-off by having dinner with my family. There's nothing like eating a home-cooked meal with some wine and talk about our days, tell jokes and bring up memories. We try to have a no phone policy, but more often then not we'll get one out to show some pictures or to look up something for the sake of knowing who's right in a discussion (healthy competition, right?).

After spending this valuable time with the family, I'll do my best to stay in contact with my friends. Often we meet up in person or turn on the PlayStation to play some games online together. I'll try to meet friends outside of home as much as I can, but most of my friends left for the big cities which makes it difficult... That's why we spend so much time playing games instead 😏.

On the days that it's not possible to meet up with friends, I grab a guitar to write some songs or open my laptop to catch up with the latest developments in front-end-land. This variety gives me a right balance between leisure and personal growth.   ore importantly because of this variety, everything stays fun to do.

Around 10:30 it's time to turn everything off and go to bed, which
concludes my daily schedule.

So how can you keep a schedule?

As I wrote, I don't plan my schedule by the minute. I split my day up into four blocks where I focus on different things. I made the following "exercise" to help you get started with this method of scheduling;

This is the moment where you grab a piece of paper or open your note taking app.

  1. What are the things you have to make time for?
  2. What are the things you want to make time for?
  3. If you have to split up your day in 4 to 6 blocks, how would you name them and what are the 1 to 3 things you want to focus on during that block?
  4. How are you going to make sure that you don't miss a block? For instance, I use an one hour buffer after my usual work hours. Another method is to plan time together with family and friends in advance.
  5. Now you have the basis for your schedule. Write it out on your calendar or any other tool you use to keep track of your appointments and/or tasks.
  6. Iterate, iterate, iterate!

Thanks for reading!

For me, keeping a schedule means creating time slots where I make time for the important things in my life. By following this schedule, I noticed that I am a better son, friend, and employee. I hope it will bring you similar or better results.