desk with laptop, coffee mug, and clock

How to Effectively Schedule Your Day

First, write out what needs to be done for the day.

  • Clean out car
  • Meet Joe for lunch
  • Fix shelves in the cabinet
  • Read stupid book for book club
  • Go for run
  • Clean kitchen
  • Organize desktop files
  • Bake something


Now list out your taskings in order of importance. Ask yourself, “What is the one thing that if I don’t accomplish today, I will be frustrated or disappointed about tomorrow?”

That is usually what we save till last and try to get smaller things out of the way first before doing the “one thing.” Resist the natural desire to save the most important thing till last. It’s what you want to do, it’s what you need to accomplish.

  1. Fix shelves in the cabinet
  2. Clean out car
  3. Clean kitchen
  4. Bake something
  5. Read the stupid book for book club
  6. Organize desktop files


Then go to your daily calendar and lay out how long you think each task will take. You’ll notice that in my numbered list I left out “run” and “meet Joe for lunch” since both are time-specific for me (if I don’t run in the morning it won’t happen).


Once everything is laid out, you should have a good idea of what your day will look like and if you over or underestimated what you could get done that day. I would recommend setting a time of day where you stop working and relax. Setting time limits on your day can help keep you focused, knowing that you will not drag out the tasks all day.

On this particular Saturday, I have my one thing, fixing the cabinets, first in the day. It might even take a little longer than what I have scheduled, but that’s ok, I built in some buffer time within the day as well. I’m going to end my day at 8:30, with reading a book being the last thing. Looking at my day I don’t think I will have enough time to do my 6th task, organize my desktop files, so I will leave that off the calendar.

This strategy can be applied more broadly to the rest of the week, with each day starting with the one thing you need to get done. The idea of the one thing comes, of course, from the great Gary Keller’s book “The One Thing” and the layout of the day from Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule. This can be expanded into weekly/monthly/yearly schedules, especially if you have established goals. I tend to set my yearly goals and then work out my weekly schedule to make those goals achievable.

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