I know I keep mentioning my struggles with organization, but one of my other weaknesses is time management. I am horrible at calculating how long something will take and often want to do just one more thing before leaving. My solution has been using time blocks to plan my day and it has made a difference in my productivity, fun, and mental health. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure here.
At the beginning of this year, I started doing some reading and found Crystal Paine’s book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. Crystal owns Money Saving Mom and her writing style makes you feel like she is talking directly to you. The book is wonderful and if you know anything about Money Saving Mom, she has a list of additional books to read. That book and the subsequent readings as a result of it, have helped me find the time to do something I didn’t think I would ever have time to do again… re-launch The Learning Hypothesis. I have also taken several ecourses, participated in webinars, and I am currently in the position of preparing for our homeschool year with a sense of peace and excitement rather than dread or urgency (I also continue to work part-time). Time blocks help me keep balance in the middle of the busy.
What are time blocks?
I think everyone approaches time blocking a little differently. I look at it as blocks of time in my day that I had dedicated to something. My time blocks are usually two hour blocks, but if I have errands I will do 1 hour blocks instead. I then delineate a task to that time. If I don’t start at the exact time, I just adjust. The flexibility is a blessing. I can also begin to see if I’m making it a habit of extending work time and compromising my play blocks.
How are time blocks different than a regular schedule/plan?
For me, the difference is that I block my entire day and everything in it. I account for fun and flex time. I plan on time to make meals, run errands, work, work out, spend time with my kids, my husband and time for myself. When I have a traditional to do list time planner/schedule, I only focus on the to do list. I don’t create margin for fun and can get burned out and grumpy. When I get away from use time blocks (as I have the last few weeks), I feel anxious all day because I have a sense of urgency about everything. Time blocking for the day or week, let’s me know when I will have time to do whatever I need to do (and what is unrealistic for the week). It helps me keep my priorities, while still working towards my goals.
Who can benefit from using time blocks?
Everyone. I am a type A personality with time management issues ( I know that seems like an oxymoron). I am resistant to tight schedules, but also tend towards perfectionism. Schedules make me feel claustrophobic, rushed, and frustrated. This type of time management can be especially difficult when you have little ones around. They don’t care that you scheduled a phone call from 1-1:15. When I use a traditional method to schedule my to do list, I don’t create room for margin. I feel like I am constantly “behind” when I look at that to do list on a schedule.
We are all juggling lots of different things these days : work, family, friends, our health, hobbies, church and volunteering. Creating time blocks that reflect my priorities help me feel balanced and get more done. I also don’t struggle with guilt over letting one area slide because I can look and where I have been spending my time. If I feel like I haven’t spent enough time with my husband, that time block becomes a priority as I begin to look at the next day.
Books I would recommend on time management and goal setting (affiliate links)
- Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
- The Best Yes
- The Happiness Project (Revised Edition): Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun