How to Set up a Schedule That Won’t Burn You Out

The rough outline of your day probably has a lot of blanks like mine does. For example, my schedule outline has things like “shoot video or write” and “deal with logistical stuff.” You might have things like “outline notes before performance review” and “organize household paperwork.” Every day, you need to determine what, specifically, goes into those categories. There’s a lot that could fit — practice asking for the raise you deserve or decide whether you’re going to tackle monthly bills or file your taxes — but the best fits are the tasks that, you guessed it, move you toward accomplishing your goals. 

“But there’s wayyy too much I need to do today — I’ll never be able to fit it all in, much less think about goals” Oh, yeah? What exactly do you need to do today? I have a daily exercise to help figure that out. At the outset, I know it looks like I’m adding yet another to-do to your already-packed day, but I promise the time investment is worth it. 

Now grab a notebook. Here’s what you need to establish: 

  1. What’s already scheduled today: Identify everything nonnegotiable already on your calendar. This includes your commute, important meetings, and family commitments, like picking up your kid from daycare.
  2. What I could do: Brain dump all the things you can possibly think of that could work for the “fill in the blanks.” This includes the specific tasks within each area. So the “outline notes” slot would have things like determining your plan of attack for asking for a raise and tracking down and printing out all the positive feedback you’ve received, as mentioned above.
  3. What fits with my goals: First, know what your goals are. Then eliminate whatever is not super time sensitive in your brain dump. Which of the things remaining align with your goals? Rank those in descending order of priority. Start with number one—aka, it must get done today—and save the items you don’t get to for another day. 

“Busy” people fill in their schedule indiscriminately: organizing your desktop, picking up dry-cleaning, and grabbing drinks with an acquaintance whom you have no real interest in seeing are all examples of this. “Productive” Super Women prioritize their tasks in accordance with their goals and Emotional Wellness needs: nailing a major deadline at work, attending your favorite workout class, and checking in with a close friend who is going through a tough time are examples of this. We pay close attention to what we do with our day and put thoughtful intention into how we fill in our schedule. 

Excerpted from Becoming Super Woman: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Go from Burnout to Balance.  

Nicole Lapin is the New York Times Bestselling author of Rich Bitch and Boss Bitch. She is the host of the nationally syndicated business reality competition show, “Hatched.” She has been an anchor on CNN, CNBC and Bloomberg. Her latest book, Becoming Super Woman, is available now.

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