As with most things, I like to do things a little bit differently when it comes to how I structure my day. Commonly spewed productivity advice will tell you to live by your calendar.
“If it’s not in your calendar, you won’t do it,” experts say.
And that can work for some. But if you’re like me, you like to have a little flexibility in your day. Sometimes it takes me longer to finish work before I can start on other tasks. Sometimes I have a call or meeting. Sometimes there’s a raid in Pokemon Go I don’t want to miss.
I mean, who knows where the day will take you?
One of the biggest problems that I have with mapping my day out by the hour is that when I fall behind I start to feel more anxious as the day runs on about missing the appointments I set for myself.
I grew sick of the stress this failing schedule was causing, and I constantly felt like I was breaking promises to myself.
So now my day is structured by what I like to call The Order of Things. This is the sequence in which I will complete my tasks for the day. I have a morning routine. I have a sequence I follow when I attack my work tasks. I have things that I complete in order after working. I have an evening routine.
And there’s enough stability that my dog knows she can take her afternoon dump between 2 and 4. The whole family wins.
Each of my activities cues the next one. I meditate > do cardio > take a shower > eat breakfast > groom myself to a socially acceptable level of presentability, and so on.
Here's my super high-tech sticky note of my morning routine:
When I start working, I have a specific list of tasks stickied to my desktop that I follow each day in an order that makes the most sense to me, primarily based on priority, that I keep on my laptop background:
There's another sticky note outlining The Order of Things for once I get home, and my nighttime routine
When I want to add a new task to my day, all I need to do is pick cues to sandwich around it. For example, a few months ago I decided when I got home from training at the gym, I would practice violin.
This cue works so well for me that when I first added my violin habit back into my schedule, I plain forgot to do it on days I didn’t train. To fix the issue, on those days, I now just bump it up where training would go. Get home from work > play violin.
If your calendar isn’t serving you or is stressing you out, give The Order of Things a shot. Write out everything you want to get done in a day, and then arrange your tasks in the sequence that makes the most sense to you.
You can even include breaks for picking your nose while you scroll through Instagram.
As long as you follow The Order of Things.