Schedule in Your Needs

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January 18, 2023
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February 1, 2023

Schedule in Your Needs

Let your schedule meet your needs 

When planning your schedule what runs through your mind? Do you list out the things you need to do for work, the house, your family, and others? It is important that you include your needs as well. Whether you are planning the next year, or the rest of the afternoon, pay attention to what you need.  

Time Zones

As you stop to consider your needs, are you finding predictable times when your needs aren’t being taken care of? Notice when there is a pattern and make some adjustments. Are there times in your schedule that are often frustrating? Consider making changes. 


Are you a morning lark or a night owl? How long does it take you to go from sleep to functional? My wife is able to go from sleep to functioning adult in mere minutes. I am a morning person, but I do not wake up quickly. The first ½ hour of my day is spent in a daze. When possible, I plan a ½ hour of dawdling in the morning plus an hour to get ready for the day. If I must be ready super early, I need to lay out my morning the night before.  


Do you have a predictable time when your energy lags? Mine is 3ish. About then I want to put my head on my desk and sleep. Since I don’t transition from sleep to wake quickly naps leave me groggy. Instead, I do easy tasks that get me moving – put away files, or straighten up.  Others find a nap refreshing. 


What do you need to wind down at the end of a day? Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work for you. Would an electronics curfew be helpful? I end up zombie scrolling way too late and don’t go to sleep when I am tired. (Scrolling is so much easier than flossing/brushing.) When my kids were young, we had a household bedtime list that started with “snack now or never” and progressed through baths, clean up, reading and bedtime. Now I put away the electronics after 9pm.  

Predicatable Problem Periods

Whenever you stop to consider “what do I do next?” Ask “What does ___________________ (insert your name here) need?” As this becomes a habit you may find times in your day that are predictable problem spots. Adjusting your schedule to meet your needs allows you to feel and function better. When you see a pattern consider solutions to make life easier.  

Transition time can be hard. How well does your brain switch from one task to another?  What does your body need before you move on to the next project? Allow yourself some buffer time between tasks.  

  • Leave that zoom meeting 5 or 10 minutes early to prepare for the next thing. 
  • Make notes about next steps when you set aside a project, this will allow you to get started more easily when you pick it up again.  
  • Stretch, dance, eat, meditate, step outside – take a few minutes to meet your body’s needs. 
  • Communicate your needs to others who are part of your schedule.  

An example: A Dad really wanted to enjoy family meals with his spouse and young children but found dinner time frustrating. “We sit down, and they all turn into jack-in-the-box jumping up one after another to go to the bathroom or to get a pair of socks! The little kids need help, so we are jumping up too. There is no time to relax or connect.” His solution: “We prepare for dinner like we prepare for long car rides. Everyone goes to the bathroom. We check if we are ready including having the right socks. Our kitchen floors are cold, everyone sits down and decides they need socks, or better socks, or slippers. Now we prepare for dinner, including our feet and meals are much more relaxed.”   

The whole point of planning out a schedule is to get stuff done. It is easy to focus on those external things you feel responsible for at this stage in your life: work, family, community. Taking care of you is your first responsibility. Only you know what you need to feel well, and to have energy. Therefore, it is up to you to pay attention to your needs and to find ways to adjust your schedule so that you care for yourself. As you ask “What does _____________________ (insert your name here) need?” notice when adjustments need to be made to meet your needs. 


Laura A. Gaines

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