We all become busier the harder we work and the further we intend to go. As our dreams grow, so does the list of tasks we need to complete in order to reach those dreams. Even if you’ve accomplished a lot without structure, you’re guaranteed to be more efficient and productive with it. Adding structure to your life when your current practices are set in stone is difficult. But with enough effort, vision, and commitment, you can create a supportive structure for your life.

Where to begin?

A monthly planner is opened to show the days of a month.

When building structure in your life, start considering your time. Think about how much you have and the tasks that it gets spent on. If your schedule is full of meetings and various to-dos, spend a day keeping track of your hours. Gauge how long your meetings take (on average), and the amount of time your other tasks cost you. Determine where time can be saved and where it’s being wasted.  

Although a healthy breakfast is important, if you’re spending 2 hours making and eating it, you might want to reevaluate your breakfast routine. Even if your meetings are mostly productive, if you spend the last 20 minutes just chatting, consider setting more rigid time constraints. Two fantastic ways to allocate time more effectively are time-blocking and task batching, which are both discussed, here.

Once you’ve implemented a time-allocation technique, you’ll realize how much time you’ve been wasting. When your tasks are sprinkled throughout the day, you spend a lot of time preparing yourself to switch gears. Rather than going from e-mails to meetings to writing to another meeting, schedule all your meetings for one portion of the day. Then set aside a full hour to do your writing, and time after that to respond to e-mails.  

No matter how structured you think you are, there are more ways to take control of your time and decide how you want to spend it.

Plan ahead.

On top of adding structure to your daily schedule with time constraints, start planning ahead. It’s great to organize a whole month in advance, but we know that plans change, so that’s a high expectation. If you don’t typically arrange tasks, it’s best to start by plotting your upcoming Monday–Saturday on Sunday. You don’t have to schedule everything down to the minute but plan each day roughly around your most important tasks. Then, create a more detailed agenda the night before. If you’re certain of the amount of time each task or meeting requires, and you want to create a specific plan for the entire week … go for it!

Set time aside for health.

Four transparent bowls filled with various fruits, vegetables, and noodles.

When you’re a busy person, it’s hard to focus any time on nutrition and exercise. But it’s crucial to maintaining a fast-paced lifestyle. Being on the go and always doing something can put a lot of stress on your body. With that added physical stress, it’s important to take proper care of yourself. This means starting with healthy morning habits. Try creating a breakfast and (optional) exercise routine that you do consistently every morning. If the routine only includes breakfast, try to squeeze it into a 30–60-minute window. If it includes a little exercise too, shoot for 90 minutes max. Creating these healthy morning habits will prepare you for the day. It’ll also remind you to stick to the structure that you’re implementing in your life. The more you stick with it the easier it becomes. 

If you didn’t manage to fit in a morning workout, try fitting it somewhere else in your daily schedule. For some people, exercise is a fantastic way to boost their energy when they hit that sleepy afternoon state. If that’s you, consider going on an afternoon walk during your workday! For others, exercise in the evening encourages a deeper, more rejuvenating sleep. If that’s more your style, go on a brisk jog at dusk, or a refreshing bike ride before bed.  

With all your running around, you need to stay nourished. Everybody is a little different when it comes to diet, so this part will fall on you to decide. Some people snack until dinner time and some people have a full lunch. Whatever you choose to do, ensure that it works for your schedule and leaves time for your other daily tasks. Then, when it comes to dinner, find some recipes that are quick and healthy. Or, if your days are so exhausting that you don’t want to make dinner at the end of the day, here are some alternatives:

  • On Sunday, make dinners for every day of the upcoming week. Then freeze/refrigerate them.
  • Cook two dinners on your less busy days, so that you have an extra dinner for the following, more tiresome day.
  • Meet a client for dinner, so you’re not only getting fed, but making a valuable connection.
  • If you have a significant other, take turns on dinner duty during the week.

Don’t forget … healthy meals and regular exercise are big parts of a productive and happy routine!

Structure is stability.

Since everyone has unique needs, try these different methods while integrating structure into your life. Take control of your time by revamping your planning process, your schedule, and your diet and exercise. A little structure makes a whole lot of difference!

While you’re creating structure for your routines, don’t be afraid to cut out the chaos and “Simplify Your Life!”