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Happy hump day one and all! Well today I have woken up and decided it is time to get out of this funk I am in. Has anyone else started to feel this way in lockdown? I feel like a child with too many toys who says they are bored!
To try and make myself have a more productive and stimulating day I pulled out my diary and time blocked my day. Time blocking is a way of planning my days I was advised by Rachel from Rocking2Stomas to try. I have also heard it is how Elon Musk and Bill Gates plan their time, so I feel like I am in pretty good company as they are rather successful! I also thought it might be something you are interested in hearing about so decided to write a blog post about what it is and how you can get started!
The organiser I use for my time blocking was kindly gifted ton me from TOAD Diaries and I love it. It is a beautiful purple colour and was personalised with my blog name. The cover is soft but sturdy and survives being thrown in and out of my bag multiple times! I chose the day per page option as it allows me to enter times down the left hand side of the page and block out my time from it that way. They are available at any time of the year and will start from whichever month you select, so you don’t need to wait until January. You can buy refills too, so do not need to purchase a whole new diary each time.
You can check out the TOAD Diaries website and all they have to offer – including diaries, organisers, tax diaries, appointment diaries, personalised notebooks and more!
Time-blocking is basically where you break your day down into blocks of time. Each block of time will be given over to a certain activity or task. The idea is to have a plan for everyday meaning that you are more productive.
The key to time blocking is to prioritise your to-do list in advance. I will share more about how I do this later on when I talk about how I personally time block my days. There are two other types of time-blocking – task batching where you group together similar tasks and do them all together in one block of time (eg. emails, paperwork, life admin) and day theming, which is helpful for those who have multiple roles or responsibilities (eg. Monday is cleaning day, Tuesday is dedicated to blog writing etc). I do a mixture of time blocking and task batching – I do not see the point personally in breaking my time down so minutely to separate out all the bills I need to pay on a Monday and will just task batch that as ‘life admin’.
I plan my weeks on a Sunday night when I will grab my diary and a notepad. I start off by adding to my diary any appointments I have and blocking out a sensible amount of time for them, including travel time. I will then write a to do list for the week. This might include blog posts I have to write, uni work I have to do and shopping trips. I will also pull out my Mrs Hinch: The Activity Journal and plan my weekly cleaning tasks in there.
This is an example of a week that has been time blocked. I love to use different colours for different types of activity. After I have all the activities I need to do I will transfer them into my organiser, ensuring I reserve enough time for each task, they are done in a timely manner (if there is a deadline) and that the most important things are prioritised. I chose to use half hour time blocks but you can choose what you feel works best for you – apparently Bill Gates plans his day down to 5 minute intervals!
I recently read an interesting post and I cannot remember where I saw it so apologies to who wrote it, but I thought it was a great tip. It recommended using the 8-8-8 rule which includes 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work/study and 8 hours play. This is a great idea to try and balance your days when making your schedule. Play includes eating, pooping, bathing, exercising and time for hobbies etc. It means you won’t schedule too much time dedicated to working, as although you want to be productive, you do need to have time to relax and focus on a bit of self-care too.
Be too rigid – things will pop up unexpectedly and that is ok. You may need to reorganise some things throughout the week if this happens but by having a focus on which tasks are most important, you will be able to deal with this more efficiently
Under- and over- estimate your time – This will happen when you start out as it takes a little while to learn how much time certain activities will take. You will also find you get quicker at certain tasks as you use this method more. Try not to worry too much but learn week on week about what time certain things take and let that make you more efficient the following week.
Over-plan your leisure time – Leisure and free-time is so important for everyone but don’t over-plan it as this will take some of the fun out f it. I tend to use time-batching for these times as I may want to sit and read, take a nap or I may want to call my mum and have a chat. I just let myself rest a little and do what I fancy doing!
This method helps promote more focused work. By not having to decide what to do multiple times during the day you focus all your energy on the task you have allotted to that particular time. By taking the time to sit and prioritise tasks at the beginning of the week (I do this on a Sunday evening) you become more aware of how you spend your time. As you use this method more and more you will also start to see that you spend less time on certain tasks as you are able to focus on them more wholly. This method is also one of the best ways to help beat procrastination if that is one of your issues. Just the simple act of writing your tasks down has been proven to mean you are more likely to act on them.
I hope this introduction to time blocking has been useful to you . I would love to hear if you are considering using this method to plan your time, let me know in the comments below. Obviously during lockdown my time blocking is looking very different to what it does normally, but it has really helped focus my mind into getting a range of tasks done that keep me busy and keep my brain active. Stay well and keep safe everyone,
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