Being home is both really rough and a Godsend all at the same time. Some days pass in a flurry of activities with appointments and activities but other days have a task list as long as my arm and I find myself wondering how I am going to get it all done with the two littles at home and remote schooling breathing down my neck. Time blocking has become the secret sauce to planning out my days.
What is Time Blocking?
Time blocking is a personal scheduling system that helps you boost productivity by using chunks of time to focus on specific projects or tasks. These chunks of time are commonly referred to as “blocks”. Hence “time blocking”.
Do I need a special planner to Time Block?
Absolutely not! Any planner will work for time blocking. You can even time block using Google Calendar if you are the digital type. Or if you want something less permanent, I have a single day printable time blocking sheet available in the shop.
How do I create a Time Blocked schedule?
First thing is to take a look at your day and try to figure out where your natural breaks are in it. You will likely see anywhere from three to five places that there is a natural change of activity. Sometimes these are bordered by meals or the beginning or end of school as an example.
My daily schedule currently has five blocks. Early morning, mid morning, afternoon, evening and bedtime. You can also name your blocks anything that you want. They can follow the time of day like I do, or they can be based on the category of task(s) that will be in the block. For example, “cleaning block”, “meal prep block” or “work block”.
How does it help you boost productivity?
The important thing about creating and sticking with a time block schedule, and most importantly letting it help you be more productive, is to make sure that when you are in a particular block, you are only focusing on the things that are within that block. If you are in a “cleaning block” you need to be sure to only focus on the cleaning related tasks that you had planned and not on whatever is in the next block or that has to be done at the end of the day. Forced focus allows you to block out the other items that can divert your attention and thus cause you to not complete tasks.
How does time blocking work with littles at home?
Time blocking has absolutely saved me over the last year. I kid you not. By creating focus blocks throughout the day it has created a structure both for me and for my two littlest (4 and 3 years old) not only with activities but also with snacks and mealtimes for them. We all know that kids this age have a tendency to “graze” and spend all day snacking if given the option. Having specific times for both meals and snacks within designated blocks has curbed that entirely.
As I create my scheduled blocks I decide what activities my kiddies will be doing during that same time period. Mind you, these are not elaborate things. During one block I may offer them the opportunity to play with play doh or to color, during another I may tell them it's free play time and let them run off to play in their rooms. Other days their options may be weather dependent like playing with bubbles or chalk outside.
If your children are older, they may go through activities more quickly so you may need a few additional options in your back pocket. Spend some time brainstorming activity ideas or trolling Pinterest for some inspiration.
Are your time blocks the same every day?
Yes and no. I tend to change up the week’s blocks based on the “season”. During the school year our days have a particular rhythm to them but when the summer months come, our days will be completely different and so our blocks will change along with it.
Also, if you are planning around smaller children, a good rule of thumb is to create two sets of blocks for any given day. Things happen. Kids get sick. Someone wakes up in a terribly combative mood or the weather changes on a dime. You have to have an alternative to your day. For example, if you have a sick child home that 3 hour “errands block” is going to have to move to another day when they are back in school or less clingy.
Just like any new system, time blocking takes some adjustment, especially for people who are used to revolving their days around hourly schedules or appointments. But if you stick with it, I think that you will find that it may be exactly the system that you have been looking for.