3 Baskets

What do you put on your calendar? Does your planner reflect your time well each day?

Generally speaking, we all have three baskets of stuff to do. These three baskets need to be balanced for our time to be used well. That can be tricky! But if you make sure all three are reflected in your daily or weekly plan, you are well on your way.

Scheduled Commitments
The dentist. The practices. The work. The school days. These are things that are commitments at certain times on specific days. You don’t just stop into the dentist’s office when you are driving by; it’s a date and time. If you can’t make it as planned, you re-schedule, but it remains a specific date and time.

  • School schedule
  • Work schedule
  • Sports schedule
  • Medical appointments

These are the things that should — and usually do — go on the calendar first. They are the non-negotiables. Not that you can’t reschedule, but for the moment they are fixed. You have to work around these entries.

What are your priorities? We all have them. Some are assigned to us, and some we take on ourselves. Either way, if they are priorities, they will show up in our use of time. So as we manage our time, we block out space on our calendars to focus on what is most important.

  • Do you have regular time for devotions?
  • Do you have time marked to just enjoy your children or family?
  • Do you set aside 20 minutes to read on a regular basis?

The long to-do list. So much to do, but have you scheduled time to do it all? If your day is full of commitments and focused priorities, without a minute to breathe, those tasks will not get done. Tasks are the little things: errands, dishes, laundry, bank, birthday cards, etc. They also reflect our priorities, but they are 5-to-15-minute items.

There is no need to schedule time for each task on our calendars, but it can be helpful to schedule an hour or two a day (whatever time fits each one’s needs) to knock out tasks.

  • Run errands (dry cleaning, bank, pharmacy)
  • Housework (hall closet, bathrooms, vacuum)
  • Bills and correspondence

That way, time is there to address them, and we can tackle the list effectively during that time without distraction.

Brand New Planner — Now What?

You have a beautiful, clean, new day planner. You’re ready to get your time organized. What do you do now?

First, think through your areas of responsibility. What do you have going on? Where is most of your time spent? Where should parts of your time be spent? Grab a blank sheet of paper and write them down. For example, Work, School (Class 1, Class 2, Class 3), Family (Date Night, Game Night, Housecleaning, Dinner with parents), Church (Sunday School, Bible Study), Health (Workout, Nap, Devotions), etc. These are the big chunks that you need on the page and don’t want to miss. These include both scheduled commitments and priorities.

Second, start writing down your set commitments (i.e., work schedule, school schedule, regular meetings or events). Because these things are at certain times, you need them on the calendar first. You will be working around these times for everything else.

When you are done, double-check your list from the first step to make sure you covered every area. Pull out school calendars, team schedules, whatever you need to cover all the bases.

Third, fill in time for your priorities. If you have school work, you’ll need to schedule time to do assignments, not just attend class. Map out your week, doing the hard things earlier — both in the day and in the week — so you are fresh and have plenty of time if you need more than you thought. If you attend a book club, block out time before each meeting to have the book read in time.  If you have chores that need to be done regularly and take a good chunk of time (30+ minutes), put it on the calendar. Make sure you include enough time but not too much. Your estimates need to be reasonable. Again, double-check your list to make sure you have everything included.

This is a great time to see how much you have committed to and how much time you actually have available. You have laid out your time and what you need to do with it. Do you have any margin around all that? You need room to breathe. You need room to be. You will also need time to take care of the little tasks that accumulate. Take a look again and see if you need to make any changes.

Now you have the framework for a useful calendar. You have the time-sensitive events and your priorities assigned to different parts of the day and week and month.

At this point, the key is to review often and keep to your schedule. Adjust when needed, but don’t ignore it. You’ve made the plan, now work the plan.