how to declutter your schedule and take back control of your day

Time is a nonrenewable resource, and we’re all too busy. It’s ingrained in our brains that our schedules have to be jam-packed to achieve productive days. The good news is, science says otherwise.  

According to Psychology Today, taking breaks refreshes your brain and can help you see things from different perspectives. So what does this mean for you? It means you should stop doing so much and embrace recharging.

You might be thinking, my schedule is always packed, and I still have a to-do list I haven’t even touched; how can I do less in order to get more? We are going to tell you! In this post, we discuss how you can declutter your schedule and take back control of your time.

Accept that you can’t do everything

Nobody knows your schedule better than you do, so when people approach you about help with a new work project or happy hour drinks, they aren’t thinking about your day.  That’s why you need to accept that you can’t do everything. The invitations will always be there; it’s just up to you to decide what you can and cannot do.

Declining an invitation is usually the most challenging part of time acceptance. If you struggle with saying no to an invitation, you can make it easier by declining but immediately rescheduling for a future date. This will ease your mind, prevent schedule overwhelm, and ensure you don’t forget to reconnect with that person in the future.

Focus on your priorities and outsource the rest

The easiest way to declutter your schedule is to conduct a time audit and determine your priorities. Once you know how you are spending your time and what you want to focus on, creating a schedule that works best for you will be easier.

But, before you start crafting your new schedule, you have to create that big, huge list of to-dos. First, create the to-do list and make sure it includes all of your professional and personal responsibilities. Then, go through the list and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to complete this task?
  • Am I the only person that can complete this task?
  • Do I currently know someone that I can delegate this task to?
  • Should I hire someone to outsource this task to?

The key is to turn that overwhelming to-do list into a project plan. Once you know what you want and need to do, you can prioritize those projects into your schedule. For the rest of the tasks, your goal is to delegate or hire people to complete them. When deciding who should handle the leftover tasks, keep in mind that executive assistants and personal assistants have a variety of skills that can knock a lot of those to-dos off of your list.

Share your goals and embrace being busy

If you have an executive assistant, you may think your schedule is out of your control. You did hire them to maximize your time, after all. But, it is important to remember that your time is still your time, even if you don’t touch your schedule regularly.

Schedule a meeting with your executive assistant to talk about your recent time audit. Use this time to discuss how you want to prioritize your day, when you feel most productive, and when you want to schedule time for reoccurring tasks and meetings. This will help your assistant schedule your day around your preferences without you having to touch it.

You can also reclaim more time each week by embracing being busy. Before your assistant works on your schedule for the week, take a look and schedule “busy time.”  This will allow you to maintain control over parts of your day to focus on your priorities or take personal time uninterrupted.

Get away from your desk

There is a common misconception that we have to work every moment of the day to maximize productivity. But the truth is, we are our most productive selves when we include downtime in our daily lives. According to a study by Psychology Today, you should take breaks because:

  • You will be more productive and feel more creative
  • You will be motivated to work on your goals (especially long-term goals)
  • Giving your brain a chance to relax will improve learning
  • Decision fatigue can be prevented with regular breaks
  • Taking a break for a 5-minute walk can improve your physical and emotional well-being

After reading about the benefits of taking a break, you might want to jump on board. The problem is your schedule. When we hear the word break, we might think it needs to be a long time to be effective, but you will begin to reap the benefits by regularly taking 5-minute breaks.

Don’t forget the things that bring you joy

When we make our personal time a priority, it won’t be as easy to neglect. For example, let’s say you are working on a project, and you see it is time to head out for the evening. You think, well, if I stay another hour, I can knock it. So you stay. Unfortunately, that hour turned into two or more, and you completely forgot about the family game night that starts in 10 minutes.

As humans, we are forgetful by nature, but we try to convince ourselves otherwise. So when your sister invited your family, you probably didn’t add the date to your schedule because you didn’t think it was an event you would forget. But sometimes, a productivity groove can even make an elephant forget about its priorities. So, prevent forgetfulness by scheduling everything. You already make your professional obligations a priority by scheduling them; it’s time to do the same for the things that bring you joy.