How to Create an Un-Schedule and Why You Should


courtesy of rmlowe


By Jennifer Blanchard

Psychologist Neil Fiore, Ph.D., is famous for creating the “un-schedule,” which is basically the exact opposite of a schedule.

Dr. Fiore created the un-schedule because he knew that all people—and especially procrastinators—often set up a schedule for themselves that is full of things they never end up completing. They then get disappointed in themselves and give up.

Fiore said in order for procrastinators to actually get stuff done, they need to do the opposite of creating a schedule and create an un-schedule.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. An un-schedule can help you look ahead at your week to see what you already have going on, that way you can determine the amount of time you actually have available to commit to your writing.
  2. It helps you keep track of all the tasks you do throughout your week.

So for the next week, try to create an un-schedule for your life. Be sure to take into consideration everything that you’re already committed to—work, commuting, activities with your friends/family, volunteering, fun, meetings, appointments, meals, chores, sleeping, etc.

Using the un-calendar provided below, write in everything you already know you are doing this week. See the example for additional guidance.

One thing to keep in mind, this un-schedule is not for things you know you should be doing. It is only for things you know you already are doing.

For example, write on the un-schedule things you know you’ll be doing, such as sleeping, taking the kids to school and eating dinner. Do not write on the schedule “exercise” or “write” unless you know for sure you will be doing that activity at the time you wrote it in at. If, however, you want to make time for exercise, but aren’t already committed to it, leave it off the un-schedule.

The Un-Schedule

An example Un-Schedule for the week of August 17 to August 23

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
5 am Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep
6 Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep
7 Get ready for work; eat breakfast Sleep Get ready for work; eat breakfast Sleep Get ready for work Sleep Sleep
8 Drive to work Sleep Drive to work Sleep Drive to work Drop kids off at grandma’s for weekend Sleep
9 Work Get up; eat breakfast work Get up; eat breakfast work Run errands sleep
10 Work Take Scott to doctor’s appt work Dentist appointment work errands sleep
11 Work lunch work Meeting with accountant work errands Brunch with Carol and Steven
Noon lunch Drop Scott off at school lunch lunch lunch lunch Brunch
1 work Grocery shopping work Clean house work errands Brunch
2 work Conference call with work work Watch episode of Rachel Ray with Gavin Rossdale interview work errands Make meal plan for the week
3 work   work Pick up kids from school work   exercise
4 work   Pick Scott up from field trip dinner work    
5 Driving home from work Dinner Drive home Drop Scott off at Cub Scouts work    
6 Making dinner Take Kim to ballet dinner Drop Kim off at ballet work Dinner plans with husband Dinner with grandma
7 exercise   Family game night exercise dinner Dinner Drive home
8 New episode of House     New episode of How Do I Look? Helping Scott with science project Going to see new James Bond movie  
9 Put kids to bed Put kids to bed Put kids to bed Put kids to bed Science project Movie Put kids to bed
10   Sleep   sleep Put kids to bed movie  
11 Sleep sleep   sleep sleep sleep sleep
12 am Sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep
Available Writing Hours 1 4 3 0 0 3 4


Based on this un-schedule, this person has 15 hours a week, at most, to dedicate to writing. Of course, this schedule only accounts for the stuff the person already knows she’ll be doing. There will most definitely be other things that pop up.

The idea isn’t for an un-schedule to be the be-all-end-all; it’s just a way for you to see where you have available time.

If you’re going to develop a habit of writing, you need to learn how to make time for it. But in order to do that, you first need to determine when you actually have time available.

Now it’s your turn. Create an un-schedule for your week coming up. As you go through your days, be sure to write in any other things that pop up. At the end of each day, count up your hours that are “blank” and write the total in the box called, “Available Writing Hours.”

Have you ever created an un-schedule before? If so, did it help you at all?

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