As I look back at the week we had (our first week after back to school), and see how smooth it was, I realize that my planning tools are working hard for me, and I wanted to share my thoughts on how I am managing my time better with the time blocking method.
It’s 6:00 in the afternoon on a Friday, and not only I feel relaxed and energized, I also could have not ended my work week on a higher note: I am sitting, typing, and blogging from my “brand new to me” vintage secretary desk. Woot, woot! I am on cloud nine, guys.
What is the Time Blocking Method?
I am a pen-to-paper gal, there’s no doubt about that. Not only I have a photographic memory, but also writing things down give me a sense of organization that any app in the world can’t give me.
In the beginning of the summer, my dear friend Meredith from Arts & Classy gifted me a beautiful Day Designer Planner. I am totally addicted to it, and as the months go by, I find it more and more useful.
So, what’s the big deal about Day Designer? you may ask.
Well, let me start by saying that it’s beautiful, and colorful, and sturdy, and well-designed (no pun intended). And if you know me by now, you know that I can’t resist any notebook, paper, or binder designed with pretty colors.
But, what makes this planner really awesome and worth your hard earned money, is that you can design your day by the hour.
With that said, I have explained to you what time blocking means! So basically, I plan my days by the hour, like follows. This is a random example of a day in my life.
By using the time blocking method, I have a ‘visual’ of my pending tasks, and by writing them down and scheduling them, I give myself a ‘sneak peek’ on how my day is going to be like. I can certainly say YES or NO to new tasks or commitments that may arise.
The Day Designer -like many other planners- has a monthly spread. Appointments, meetings, and important dates and events that I can put in schedule far in advance, go in that monthly spread. Things like: my Face Time meetings for the Elite Blog Academy, my son’s weekly swim lessons (while keeping a log of payments), vacation, etc.
So, if you’re wondering how far in advance I plan my days, you will be surprised when I say I plan one day at a time, usually the night before or even that same day around 6:30 a.m. or 7:00 a.m., when the house is quiet and I have a clear mind, and a cup of coffee. Can’t forget that cup of coffee.
Let’s get real, I can only be so organized. Life throws at you all kinds of different curved balls each day, so I give myself some grace and leave room for the unexpected. Like today, I spent two extra hours of my day
- driving to 3 different postal offices to find a particular flat rate box,
- an unexpected stop at the church to pick up some paperwork,
- and driving back to the school after picking up my son because he left his lunch box on the bench, on a Friday nonetheless! That figures!
While the time blocking method may sound a little strict and picky for some, it is a great way to help you keep track (or a log) of things you did in the past and things you will be doing in the future. Not to mention, it’s great to help you meet your deadlines while avoiding procrastination.
Set Your Daily Goals and Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Now, I am only human, and I admit that not everything I write down I accomplish in the allotted time. Many times, I run one hour or two late, and that’s OK. Many other days I don’t accomplish some of my planned tasks at all. But, that only gives me a push to move a little faster next time.
What is important here is the fact that I have my tasks and to-do’s written down. That is a great start. It’s a visual reminder, and I know that sooner or later I will get to them.
If I don’t get around to accomplish a particular task, then I realize that it wasn’t that important and/or urgent, and it means that I gave priority to what really was. That’s being productive and efficient.
To quickly identify your daily priorities, there is room (in the upper left of each page) to write ‘Today’s Top Three’. This is a great feature because it helps you refine your daily tasks down to your 3 most important ones. Those tasks that you know you must complete, achieve, or even get started on that day!
If you don’t feel ready to commit to strict time blocking, I have a free printable daily to-do list which is great for setting daily goals, so it’s a good starter.
So, what do you think? Have you ever tried the time blocking method to plan your days? Does it work for you?
Let me know in the comments below!