I don’t know about you, but when I have a free day/day off/unscheduled time, I more often than not, totally waste it. I’m much better when I have a structure, even if that means scheduling in time to relax! Sounds ridiculous I know, but knowing this about myself has saved me many hours of frustration over lost opportunities to get stuff done.
The first step was figuring out my style. I had a hard time admitting I couldn’t be that fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-kind-of-girl planner. Are you better with structure, too? Do you need to write out a detailed schedule or do you just need a basic blueprint? I find the more detailed I get, the easier it is stay on schedule.
Which is kind of funny because being a bit on the artistic side, it seems like I would naturally hate that structure. But I LOVE IT! I’m a total list person–I love making them, I love checking off the items and then coming up with more–so I’ve come up with an easy way to become a free-day-ninja-task master of sorts.
Here’s how I structure a day off so that I can get the most out of it:
1) I make a master list of all the dreamy things I’d like to do. I don’t limit this to ‘practical’ things that best suit my time, but more all of the things that are running around in my brain that need to get done. It’s basically a brain dump so I can get a big view picture of what’s happening in my life. It doesn’t mean I’m going to get to them that day, it’s just a way to get organized.
2) I then figure out my must-do’s for the day. I workout most days, so I want to schedule time for that. I also like to catch up with a buddy sometimes, so I put aside a little meeting time for that (lunch, anyone?) I don’t ignore my everyday must-dos just because it’s a free day in front of me.
3) Then I cull out what I think I can actually get done that day by identifying the top 3 non-negotiables from the brain dump. This to me is great, because I know no matter what, I’m going to get those three things done, so I make them the ones I really want to cross off the list.
4) Next, I set up a time schedule and literally block out my time. The first items I put in are the top three non-negotiables, then I put in the must dos and last, I figure out what else I have time for. I sprinkle those extras in throughout the day trying to gauge the realistic amount of time I actually have. I find that when I put tasks in the time slots, they surprisingly get done! This is where I know I need a schedule, because I’m pretty good at sticking to it when I have one.
5) Lastly, I always leave a little time in between tasks so that I have some room for flexibility. I want to have a sense of ease on my free day, not like I’m being held to every. little. thing! So that extra time gives me a little looseness in my schedule.
Here’s what I use for my list: (Want a free copy? Click on the image to get access to my free resource library.)
The running list goes on the right, and I plug as much as I can handle into the slots on the left, depending on time. It works because I see what I need to do, what I’m actually doing + what might need to get done another day all in one view.
(If this style appeals to you, click on the picture above and it will bring you to a page of it that you can print! You need to print it in landscape mode, it will be on one half of the page.)
This may seem pretty simple, but man! It gets me to organize my day. As a result I feel relaxed and accomplished. Total score! And I don’t have an overwhelming schedule book to lug around–it’s just one simple sheet to keep me on track.
At the end of the day, I take a look at my list and see what I crossed off. I transfer the running list for the next free day (or spare time) and I add the leftovers from the brain dump to my running Google Keep lists. I use Keep for lists of not-everyday-sorts of things like: work that needs to get done around the house, tasks to move my art biz forward, big item shopping lists etc.
So there it is! It’s the organization method I’m using that’s working now, but it’s always changing. Want to try it out? Sign up and get access to it in my free resource library!