Time-management can often feel like a joke to many parents. Especially this year when parents have had to learn to manage a full-time job around child-rearing or a hectic stay-at-home schedule managing online schooling for children in different age groups. Plus, don’t forget the household duties!
I’ll be honest: I am the type of person who uses an online calendar, physical calendar, and daily list of notes to remember what needs to get done. During the pandemic especially, I would forget to add important events to every calendar, so it always seemed something was falling through the cracks. In fact, it wasn’t until a few influencers I followed started talking about how time-blocking had changed their lives. I realized I had to try a new time management and productivity system. At the very least, I figured it was better than using a dozen sticky notes and sending random texts to my husband about chores that needed to get done.
I really fell in love with time-blocking when I realized how easy and customizable it was to my schedule, and how satisfying it was to cross off each task as I completed it.
So, what exactly is “time-blocking”?
Essentially, it’s blocking your daily calendar into chunks of time dedicated to specific tasks on your to-do list.
How do you start time-blocking your day?
Create a list of projects/tasks that need to get done
This can be anything from taking out the trash to something as complex as completing a work project.
Highlight the most important projects/tasks
It is essential to give your important tasks a priority in your schedule. Aim to give more time to accomplish these tasks and consider when you are most productive before writing out your schedule.
Create a blueprint schedule in your calendar or planner
Of course, everyone’s days will be different, but here’s an example of my time-blocking schedule. I like using a notebook with colored pens to differentiate the type of tasks for each block, but you could use a similar system in a Google calendar.
Block out your schedule weekly or daily
Personally, I love scheduling my time-blocks daily so I can customize them to my ever-fluctuating schedule managing multiple jobs as well as parenting and household duties. Daily time-blocking also reminds me to look at my calendars every day to keep track of important appointments like my son’s therapies.
Protect your time and try not to switch things around
Priority projects should not be postponed, barring an emergency. This means honoring the schedule that you wrote and holding off on less important tasks until you reach that block of time. As you work on this skill, you can learn to block more or less time for certain tasks as you go.
Now, I know looking at that schedule can seem overwhelming at first. But I promise, once you get the hang of blocking out your tasks, it becomes second nature. And my schedule does not always look so neat and tidy. When I am in a rush, I block time out for what I need to accomplish in the morning, afternoon, and evening to speed up the process, and still find it very helpful!
Here’s what happened after I got the hang of time-blocking
My productivity increased
Time-blocking took away the guesswork. I could see very clearly where everything I needed to do was going to get done. This allowed me to focus on one task at a time without fearing that I was missing something.
It helped me focus on my priority tasks
One of the most important rules to time blocking is that you are not supposed to multitask. Time-blocking has allowed me to narrow down what I have to do and gives me the space to concentrate on one task at a time, making me more likely to finish what needs to get done.
I finally take my well-deserved breaks
Before using this tool, I would find myself engrossed in a dozen different important tasks and skipping meals and forgetting to drink water. Self-care is so important to prevent burnout, and after laying out my busy schedule, and seeing how much I’m getting down, the breaks feel well deserved.