The Science Behind Why Scheduling Improves Your Life

Being organised will make your life better. And you don't have to just take our word for it — there's plenty of scientific evidence of the benefits of working to a schedule.

Schedule picture from Shutterstock

The Snooze Button Is Your Enemy

The importance of scheduling kicks off right from the beginning of the day. As the above video explains, hitting snooze and grabbing a few extra minutes of sleep is likely to make you feel even worse, because you'll end up waking again during the wrong part of your sleep cycle.

Regular sleep is essential for our good health, and that requires a schedule. If your sleep patterns are completely awry, check out our guide to taking a scientific approach to improving your sleep.

Scheduling Helps Deal With Limited Willpower

Willpower is not an infinite resource. There are only so many things we can convince ourselves to do before the phenomenon of "ego depletion" kicks in. Here's a neat explanation of the concept from researcher David Glance:

Ego depletion is a theory that proposes that people have a limited amount of self control, or willpower, and that this is reduced every time we exert it, for whatever reason. In an experiment to demonstrate this, researchers have found that if they give their test subjects two tasks that require self-control, the subjects show less self-control in the second task than those subjects who were first given a different task not requiring self-control. In other words, doing any task requiring willpower makes any subsequent task that much harder to do.

Scheduling can't completely overcome this phenomenon, but it can make it easier. If you organise yourself so that set tasks happen at set times, it's easier to form the habit. Approaching life in a haphazard fashion won't give you that benefit. Fitness picture from Shutterstock

Kill Procrastination With Routine

Procrastination is a fact of life for many of us. One of the best ways to avoid it? By setting firm deadlines for tasks, and creating a schedule that requires you to perform specific tasks within a framework. Check out our guide to scientifically sound ways to kill procrastination for more ideas. Picture: Getty Images

Extra Time Doesn't Equate To Extra Productivity

It's tempting to believe that spending more time on a task will always produce a better result, but the evidence suggests otherwise. As we've noted before, there's a limit to the benefits of working around the clock:

This 2011 synthesis paper (full text, PDF) by the International Labour Organization reviewed available research into the relationship between productivity and hours worked. The core conclusion: longer hours do not make you more productive, and it can actually have the opposite effect. You'll get less done, and what you do get done is never your best work.

Again, this is where a planned schedule can help — because not only does it tell you when to start, it tells you when to stop. Clock picture from Shutterstock


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