Making a schedule is one thing, sticking to it is something else entirely.
I’ll be honest with you: I’m not one of these people who’s incredibly disciplined naturally. It’s taken me YEARS to cultivate the level of discipline I have now and even that’s not that impressive 😂 So I know allllll about the struggle of sticking with a schedule. I used to write something down as a to-do, and then put it off every single day for weeks on end until the stress of a deadline loomed over me like a fire. This is NOT a fun way to live! I’m human and not perfect, so I still occasionally fall into bad habits like that, but usually I’m pretty good about getting my sh*t done.
Especially with the kind of work I do, being disciplined enough to stick with a schedule is hugely important because there’s no one but me to keep me accountable. Sure, I have Adrien, but it’s not his job to be after me every day and make sure I’m getting work done. So I have to rely on my own motivation to stay on top of my to-dos.
I know a lot of you struggle with this too, and the question about how to stick with a schedule came up a few times this week, so I thought it’d be a great topic to cover here.
Here’s a few best practices that have helped me over the years.
1. Make your movement non-negotiable.
Every weekend (usually Sundays) I schedule my entire week of to-dos including workouts, and I put them all in my bullet journal just like any other appointment. Unless something absolutely HUGE happens, I will not miss that appointment with myself. Sometimes I have to adapt; if I get super busy, a workout might happen at home versus the gym. If I get overwhelmed with life, a power yoga class might turn into something more gentle. But either way, I’m NOT missing it. This is all about your outlook on it. If you schedule a yoga class/workout with an “out” in the back of your mind (ie. “ehh, but I’ll see how I feel that day…), you’re way more likely to back out on it than if it’s set in stone. Don’t be afraid to set things in stone!
2. Schedule things you look forward to, too.
Every day I write “read” on my to-dos. It reminds me to make sure there’s a little downtime at some point to do something leisurely. It sounds silly, but it really helps. At the beginning of the year, I write down how many books I want to read that year, so it’s still part of a larger goal of self-improvement and growth, but also something I enjoy. The goal gives me accountability, and the habit itself is something I enjoy anyway. This could be anything you like– knitting, walking outside, rollerblading– whatever!
Are you setting goals regularly? Are they goals that are (1) realistic and (2) something you actually want and not just something someone else tells you you should want? Goals give you something to strive for. They give your actions purpose so you don’t just feel like you’re spinning on a hamster wheel day after day. Sure, you want to do yoga every day, but why? What’s your intention in setting that goal? Maybe you want to stop getting takeout for dinner, but why? How much do you hope to save at the end of the month? Put purpose behind your actions and watch how much more motivated you are to GET THEM DONE.
Goals give you something to strive for. They give your actions purpose so you don’t just feel like you’re spinning on a hamster wheel day after day.
4. What are you doing instead? Is it worth it?
I had a few days in a row where all I wanted to do was ignore my to-dos and binge on my favorite Netflix series. I did NOT feel good or productive about this because I didn’t even feel like I was taking a true break! The weight of the things I had ahead of me was too heavy to feel good about ignoring them. Remember that ignoring your responsibilities doesn’t make them go away. Instead, I remind myself that I want to get them done so I have true free time that I actually enjoy taking. Sticking to a schedule serves you because it frees your mind to truly relax when the other stuff is fulfilled.
5. Project this out 1 week, 2 months, 3 years.
If you’re in the habit of having no structure and that makes you feel bad, ask yourself how you’ll feel if nothing changes in 1 week, 2 months, or 3 years. Would you feel good about not having stuck to anything? Will you feel good about not having held yourself accountable to your own dreams and desires? Would you feel happy about what you’ve accomplished without any structure, goals, or follow through? Probably not. And if not, that’s a clear sign it’s time for a change.
The first couple weeks of sticking with a new schedule if HARD WORK. It takes serious discipline to get through it before it becomes more habitual and easier. Trust me, getting through this phase of sheer willpower is worthwhile. At the end of it, you’ll have the discipline that will carry you to the finish line of every goal you set and you’ll be unstoppable.
Be the kind of person who’s willing to do the hard thing instead of the kind of person who’s always looking for the easy way out.
Over to you! How do YOU stick to a schedule? Any best practices I missed here and you want to share? Please do!!