I love fall something fierce, but the transition into this season can be a tricky one. To create a more intentional (and hopefully more pleasurable) early fall, I've been rethinking the way I approach my days. If you've been following me for a while, you know I've written before about the benefits of mapping your time — and if you're feeling pressure from all angles of your schedule, I still encourage you to start there. But when you're ready to dive in and begin to make real changes to the way you spend your time each day, I have a new tool for you to try (and a simple free download to go along with it).
The zero-based schedule
If you've heard of zero-based budgeting, you're already familiar with the concept. If not, the idea is pretty straightforward: each month, you give each dollar a job to do. So instead of having "extra" money in your budget once bills and other necessities are taken care of, you give those extra dollars a place to go, too — it could be into a travel fund, college savings account, a donation to charity, or whatever you choose.
So keeping a zero-based schedule, simply put, means accounting for every hour of your day...ahead of time. The night before, you get out a fresh planner page (more on that in a moment) or turn to a new sheet in your bullet journal, and fill in the tasks you know you need to get done at certain times — like doing the school run, starting work, and making dinner. Once the must-dos are written down, it's time to play a little...
Firm deadlines (like appointments or meetings) tend to make it onto our schedules simply because they shout the loudest: we know someone will be mad or disappointed in us if we drop the ball, so we do our very best to come through.
But what about those seemingly smaller to-dos we quietly want, just for ourselves?
In a zero-based schedule, you have the opportunity to pencil in pockets of time for your passions and big goals. For me, that's meant learning to run, reading more good books, and writing. For you, it could be knitting, taking an evening class, and playing roller derby. You know what it's probably not? Scrolling social media, mindlessly snacking, and online shopping.
If you'd like to give zero-based scheduling a try, I created a really simple Daily Planner PDF for you to download, print, and enjoy:
On the left side is space to record a basic hourly plan for your day. On the right side are boxes to jot down any habits you're currently tracking (glasses of water, exercise, reading, etc.), gratitude, and notes for tomorrow. You absolutely do not need to use this every day (or at all!) but I've found it quite helpful for creating a more intentional day when I really need it.
photos: Gaelle Marcel