When the new year started, there was one major personal project that I knew I needed to work on, something I’ve talked about many times but didn’t really implement to its full ability. In fact, I’d wager that I’ve been putting off certain realizations about it for … well … eons. Time management. The goal for this project undertaking was to come up a consistent schedule that reduced the level of crazy I felt bouncing from project to project. It also meant realizing where my time had been going.
I’m sharing my Ten Steps to Block Scheduling Domination.
Step One: Determine Where The Time Goes
I flit and float between different projects all day long, but there was one thing, one stupid thing, that made each project take longer than it needed to be. My little “side interruptions” to go skim Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Ravelry. Gulp. Time to face it, Tab. You have a scrolling addiction.
So, I sat down with my notebook and pen and made a list of everything I need to do during the work week. Was it a daily task or weekly? How much time should it take me to complete?
The next thing I did was to go through that list and determine what like-items could be blocked together. Social media shares (a work requirement, not just personal) and emails naturally followed one another. I could easily transition into a one hour blog/content writing block from there, too. So, I highlighted them in the same color. I also noted that there were items I would like to do more often, but they all sort of fit into a separate category away from work projects. Could I put them into their own time chunk or their own day? I highlighted them in another color. One item stood out as general work that I have to do every day, but it varies on the WHAT because it is dependent on my work task list. That’s a sole pink on the list because it has to be implemented every day and regularly as my job. I also made a note of what I could do at the end of the day, like a quick email check to handle/defer/delegate any last minute projects.
Step Four: Give the Like-Items Their Own Name
Give the Like Items a Block Name. For example, I call the first three items in the morning (emails, social, content writing) my ABC Block. I call the last email check of the day (the one where I add things to my to do list for another day) Fires. Or work is simply called To Do.
So, looking at my list, I know there are some tasks that can’t be altered: driving the kids to/from school, eating lunch (yes, we must all really do this — quit skipping!! It isn’t healthy!), daily chores, exercise, etc. I opened up an excel spreadsheet, called it the Master Schedule, created rows/columns of days and times, and started plugging in those specific items. I need to eat lunch every day, at 12. I need to leave at 2 to get the kids from school. Give them short, easy titles, like Kids, Lunch, Home, etc.
Step Six: Start Blocking
- First, I plugged in the most natural task block, which I call ABC Block. A = 15 min emails, B = 15 min Social Shares, and C = Write blog/content. I set this for first thing in the AM every work day for 1.5 hours (or less).
- Second, I filled in my Once a Week Flow by choosing one specific day to put these all together. It goes … Novel at Starbucks, (1.5 hrs), then Errands, (1.5 hrs), then home to put groceries away before moving on to Planning and Home (2 hrs). Lunch falls between Planning and Household Projects. This will involve things like calling the roofer, catching up on household chores that I am behind on (hello giant mountain of clothes that have yet to be folded), prepping smoothie kits, working on a repair, etc.
- Third, fill in the daily work. I’ve titled this, simply, To Do Block and it starts immediately after ABC until lunch, and then lunch until Kids.
- My Fire Block is the final email check of the day, as well as a schedule review for the next day. Emails that come in needing something get assigned a date and put into the To Do list for that date.
Continue filling in your time blocks.
Step Seven: Make Hard Decisions
There are some things you can’t fit it as often as you want. Maybe it’s a hobby, or writing, gym run, or running more errands, etc. This is where you need to determine whether or not they need to be done at all? Or decide if it is something that can be done earlier in the morning or before bed?
Step Eight: Make Hard Rules
My only rule: There is no checking Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc during the workday other than during my lunch break. Period. Each offense results in a $1 penalty that comes from my allowance. Gulp. My first week testing this schedule, I had to take out $4 to reassign somewhere else in the allowance. Eek!
Plug it all in the planner. In my Inkwell Classic, I have columns, so the top is where I put appts and deadlines. In the middle, I write my To Do list — these tasks are adding on a rolling-in basis through the month. I already have To Do lists items next month! And the bottom third is where I write out my schedule for the day, based on my Master Schedule with adjustments from the Appts for the day.
And finally, Step Ten: Realize That Nothing Is Set In Stone
This scheduling concept is not rigid and nor is it permanent. I can shift my days around, if I wish, especially on light work-weeks. I also learned the first week of my test that I needed more time for some things and less time for others. Not a problem! Make adjustments and block items in ways that work for you.