Dec 29, 2015 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

Tell me I’m not alone in this – these past couple of weeks have been crazy. For you too, right?

There was Christmas and Yosemite and shopping (ugh) and writing and the Tribe Writers Course I’m taking, and, well, the list goes on.

It’s the end of the year, too, so I have systems to set up for next year to make sure I’m spending my money and time the way I want to. I set up a budget spreadsheet, and this year I’m using the You Need A Budget software, so I’ll need to set that up, and I’m setting up my Bullet Journal as well as starting a commonplace book.

It’s a lot for a two-week period, especially since I only took one day off. That was my bad, and has led me to feel mostly overwhelmed this past week. And a little cranky.

But it reminds me of something I’ve done that I look back on from time to time that helps to keep me focused. That thing is planning out my ideal schedule.

Have you ever thought about the best way to spend your time? I don’t mean in the general sense, like “spend time with family.” I mean in the very specific sense of assigning tasks to certain hours of the day.

Let me show you. Below is what my schedule is right now:


Time Task
05:00 - 05:30a exercise
05:30 - 06:30a freelance and blog writing, querying.
06:30 - 07:30a get ready for work, make breakfasts, lunches
07:30 - 08:00a drop off daughter and dog, drive or bike to work
08:00 - 12:30p work
12:30 - 01:00p lunch
01:00 - 05:30p work
05:30 - 06:00p commute, get daughter & dog
06:00 - 08:30p grocery shop if necessary, cook & eat dinner; help daughter with reading, piano; play; get daughter ready for bed
09:00 - 09:45p clean up, prep for next day
09:45 - 10:30p chores, and if there’s time, relax, knit, read

It’s not ideal. After work, I have lots to do, and I’m pretty useless when it comes to writing after work. Spending a whole day in front of a computer fries my brain cells, and I’m only good for physical labor like doing the dishes and walking the dog. What ends up happening, then, is I have one hour a day to write, unless I get a chance at lunch. Since I take a lunch only rarely, it usually is just an hour.

That’s not a lot of time to do what I love or to spend more time with my daughter, both of which are HUGE goals for me.

About year or so ago, I was pretty frustrated about it, and as I daydreamed about not having to work a full-time job for someone else, I figured out how much I would have to work to make a living as a freelancer. That resulted in me making my ideal schedule, which is below:


Time Task
07:00 - 08:30a make breakfasts and lunches, get ready, take daughter to school
09:00 - 11:30a freelance and blog work
11:30 - 01:00p run, bike, lunch
01:00 - 04:00p freelance and blog work
04:00 - 04:15p get daughter
04:15 - 05:30p homework, piano, grocery shopping, playing
05:30 - 06:30p cook, eat dinner
06:30 - 08:30p play, read, get ready for bed.
08:30 - 09:15p chores and prep for next day
09:15 - 10:00p knit, read, write

Total work hours: 5.5

Yup, you read that right. I could get by on 5-6 hours a day of work. Unbelievable, no?

The value of figuring this out was it helped me to realize how switching to working for myself could free up time for me to do what I love – spend more time with my daughter and spend more time writing each day.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. Launching a freelance business is tough, even as a side hustle. But this ideal schedule has helped me to focus and it reminds me of my priorities.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do, looking at this schedule helps me to remember what I’m working toward. As we head into the new year, this is a great reminder of where to focus my energy, money and time.

What does your ideal schedule look like?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.