One of the most common sources of anxiety is unpredictability or just not knowing what to do next. Having a schedule can help alleviate anxiety and can be an incredible relief if you incorporate some predictability into your life. In Dr. Jordan Peterson’s Q&A on 6/17/21, at (30:35), he answers a viewer’s questions about struggling to make a schedule and how to start making one.
Scheduling might feel overwhelming or restrictive for some people, like forcing yourself to do things rather than being helpful. Instead, scheduling your time should be your friend and work for you, not against you.
One way to begin is to start scheduling things you like and carving out time to do those things rather than planning things you have to do. There’s already plenty of things that you have to do in day-to-day life. Move towards something that you want and create a structure to attain those goals. Start by imagining what you would like to do and asking yourself if you would actually do it.
An example of how this can work comes from my personal experience as a graduate student years ago. I began to schedule and protect time at the end of my day that was just for me to relax and unwind. As someone who struggled to focus and complete assignments in school, I was pleasantly surprised that by doing this, I was able to stay focused throughout the day because I wanted to protect my time to do what I wanted. Thinking about it this way and setting aside time for things that are pleasurable can be anxiety-reducing.
You don’t have to plan your next five years today. Instead, start by setting small meaningful goals. That’s why scheduling time for things that are enjoyable will make it easier to get started. Of course, it takes time to do that well, maybe over several years, to perfect it.
Planning might seem overwhelming to get started, but the alternative is to stay anxious and have a life that’s unpredictable and chaotic. Having a schedule, especially if you make time for things you want, puts you more in control of your time and emotions instead of your feelings and time controlling you.
Written by: Dustin Ellis