Time Blocking | How to get back at least an hour of your day (or more)!
I posted earlier this year about how to stay organized in 2018. This post will piggyback off that one - so if you haven't read it yet, do so first to get the best education out of this post! :-) Let's be real - don't you want to be the very best version of you?
If you've already read my post about staying organized, LET'S DO THIS!
OKAYYYY, so I feel sometimes I have a weird version of ADD. I'm the rare mix of creative and logistical. I think outside the box yet think of structures and processes. This may seem cool to some of you but while I'm completely blessed, I feel completely insane. My brain never stops I can easily get distracted and most of the time it's hard for me to stay focused.
Over the years, I've struggled to find ways to keep myself organized and on track while not being stressed with having five million tabs open. There were many days that I came home from the office after working a 12 hour work day and literally felt like I got nothing done. I remember going to bed one night, completely beyond exhausted and saying, "Why do I feel like I didn't put a dent in my to-do list?! Is this freaking possible!? I literally never stopped working today!". I would then feel frustrated and defeated and admit defeat for that day.
I know I can't be alone (please - don't let me be alone!!).
Anyway, after a ton of research, podcasts, and advice from my peers - I learned a term called "time blocking". For those of you who haven't heard of it, I was once in your boat. So let me start off with the basics.
To put it simply, time blocking is staying focused on one item for a certain period of time and not deterring from it.
P.S. It's SUPER hard at first but don't worry - it's not impossible.
Time Blocking consists of:
- Pre-planning your week
- Turning your phone on airplane mode at certain times of the day
- Staying focused on one topic at a time
- Being in a place without distractions (or making headphones your best friend)
- Saying "no" or adding something to your to-do list instead of immediately dropping everything and shifting focus
I'm going to tell you something that will blow your mind...
....it's pretty unlikely someone is going to die if they need to wait 30 minutes before having your attention.
WHOA, I said it.
...and if they do, they actually value you for making them wait - because then they become your PRIORITY versus your AFTERTHOUGHT.
Good stuff, right? Let me explain...
When I am in the middle of working on a project - a timeline for example - and I am stopped or get distracted for some reason I lose my train of thought. I miss something or it takes me 15 minutes to figure out where I left off to get back in the groove. If I'm not in the mindset for that project - it's hard for me to give them my attention. To be honest, if I do give them my attention - I am still thinking of the project I was working on and trying to shift focus.
So, you are probably wondering... what does this really look like? My job is insane and things get thrown at me every five seconds.
Um, look who you are talking to - I'm a wedding planner. My life is literally a giant mess of unpredictable moments.
So, even more of a reason to time block.
Here is how I personally time block. I use my Day Designer and look at my week as a whole (normally I do this on Sundays or Mondays). Then I...
1. Look at my week and block off time for any appointments I already have scheduled
2. Block off any time I need for travel to and from appointments
3. Block off any times for working out and meals
4. Set a goal for the time I want to be completed with work for the day
5. Write down my top 3 priority to-dos for each day that week
From there, I need to find time for the following items:
1. Reviewing and responding to emails
2. Completing my top (3) to-do list items
3. Responding to phone calls or text messages
Here is an example of one of my days last week:
7:00 AM - Wake up
7:30 AM - Work Out
8:30 AM - Drive home, make a shake
8:45 AM - Shower and get ready
9:15 AM - Leave for the office
9:50 AM - Arrive at the office
10:00 AM - Itinerary Planning Meeting
12:00 PM - Lunch
12:15 PM - Check and respond to emails | check texts and phone calls *
1:00 PM - Vendor Meeting
2:00 PM - Drafting Timeline *
3:00 PM - Respond to call list | check texts *
3:20 PM - Travel for Site Visit
3:45 PM - Arrive at Venue
4:00 PM - Site Visit
5:30 PM - Travel
6:15 PM - Make Dinner, Eat
7:30 PM - Respond to emails *
Tight day, right? If I didn't time block any of my time I would be stressing about what I need to do, what is a priority and how to get it all done and still get to my meetings.
So hence (does anyone even say that anymore?!) - time blocking.
During the times I've starred above, I turn my phone on airplane mode, put my headphones in and churn it out. How many times has your phone went off when you were working on something so you stopped what you were doing to check it?
It's SO easy to get distracted, hang out with my staff, etc but every minute is so valuable. For every 5 minutes, you get distracted, it's 10 more minutes it takes you to get back on track. Do that 4 times a day and you've lost an hour.
I have to be honest - it's SO hard at first. It's SO easy to get distracted and lose your main focus (especially when you work with amazingly fun people like I do). Days do change as well - so sometimes I have a plan and I have to make some adjustments. Overall, though - I feel so accomplished and am actually able to get stuff done.
I haven't had a day in a while that I have felt like I accomplished anything. Am I perfect? Of course not - I get off track sometimes BUT even if I stayed to 75% of my plan - I'm still getting more done than if I didn't plan out and time block my day.
So, please don't make my same mistakes. Start taking over your own life, get more done and save an hour (or more!) starting tomorrow. :-)
Here's to productivity, making $$ and overall creating that work / life balance. <3