Let’s face it: many people really hate the idea of keeping and following a schedule. It can seem constraining, even a bit militaristic, and some of us like to just do things on the fly without feeling tied down.
While it may be possible for some people to get by without a schedule, the “fly by the seat of your pants” approach may actually be harming your productivity, and causing a lot of stress. Also, while a schedule may appear to constrain, a well-made one can actually free up a lot of your time.
The following are eight reasons why making, and sticking to, a schedule can benefit your health.
- It can relieve a lot of stress
If you’re constantly trying to remember what you have to get done, or running around from one unplanned activity to another with no time to breathe, you can be putting yourself through a lot of unnecessary stress. If you forget something because you didn’t write it down, the results can be even more stressful.
If you write down what you have to do, and when you have to do it on a schedule, you can space things out as you need to and you’ll be sure to be on top of the important things. No need to stress about what you need to do, because it will be all on paper (or a screen, as the case may be).
- You’ll get more done
If you don’t plan out everything you need to do in a given day (or week), and how much time you will need to do it, it’s almost inevitable that you won’t be able to fit everything in. This may leave you with important tasks unfinished, and an endless cycle of to-dos that you’re always struggling to catch up with.
However, if you plan out each task, estimating how long it will take and giving priority to important tasks, you’ll very likely get more done. This will ensure that you can move fluidly from one thing to the next, taking breathers in between, and not getting stressed or fatigued.
- You’ll be more efficient at what you do
When you allow yourself ample time to complete a task, and breaks in between tasks, you can make sure you are putting out your best quality of work. Likewise, with health, if you plan out your exercise routine, and your meals, you’ll make sure not to skimp and will be able to dedicate your full attention to your workout and to cooking.
Which brings me to my next two points:
- You won’t have to rush through meals
Operating without a schedule means you’ll probably be rushing a lot. This may give you little time to cook, or to sit down and eat a good meal. This rushed mentality is why many people eat fast food, or quick microwaveable meals, which are horrible for your health.
If you schedule your tasks, and schedule them around mealtimes, you’ll know that you have enough time to cook and to savor your food. You’ll have the headspace to make healthier choices, and enjoy the whole experience much more overall.
- It ensures that you have enough time for exercise, and adequate sleep
Just as with mealtimes, if you do not schedule exercise into your day, you may find yourself rushing through your workout or skipping it altogether. If you’re trying to jam-pack too many tasks into your day, you may end up going to bed very late and not getting enough sleep. Or, maybe you’ll get into bed on time, but stay up worrying about what needs to get done the next day.
If you set yourself a manageable schedule, you’ll know you have enough time to exercise and to get a decent sleep. You’ll also know exactly what you need to do the next day, which could relieve a lot of anxiety. Both exercise and sleep are, of course, crucial to both your physical and mental health.
- It makes it easier to say “no” to non-essentials
If you know exactly what you need to do, and when you need to do it, you’ll know exactly which “extras” you have time for and which ones you don’t. There’s nothing wrong with adding to your schedule if something that you need or want to do comes along, but if someone asks you to do something non-essential, you’ll know if you can fit it in or not.
The practice of saying “no,” although difficult for many people, is very healthy: it lets you focus on your priorities, makes you less subservient to social demands and ensures that you are not overbooked.
- You’ll have more time for the things you love
When you make your schedule, make sure to include some free time to do the things you love to do. If you don’t have a schedule, it may be hard to find time to relax and do the things you enjoy, because you’re constantly playing catch-up. Scheduling this free time as an important task, rather than an “if I have time” clause, is key.
Doing the things you love to do — swimming, painting, writing, singing, rock climbing… whatever your passion — is imperative to your health: mental, physical and emotional. The things we are passionate about make us who we are, don’t let them get overlooked in the clutter.
- You will feel accomplished
Keeping a schedule allows you to check things off once they are done. Then, you have hard evidence of what you have accomplished. You’ll rest easier, and feel a great sense of satisfaction knowing that you are one step closer to your goals —in all facets of life.
If you start to feel discouraged, you can look at what you have done and take time to celebrate, before planning out the next step.
In short, spontaneity is wonderful, but scheduling the day-to-day tasks can really help you to have time for it while still accomplishing all that you need to do. It’s a win-win for your health, and your enjoyment of life.