Clear your mind: Block your time

This wasn’t the topic I was going to write about today, but I have to! My brain is feeling excellent and has been since I have embraced the concept of time blocking.

Time blocking

A while ago, I read this awesome article by Jeremiah Dillion for Fast Company about an email written by a manager at Google to his employees. It outlines how managers schedules are different from creatives schedules and that’s OK! Creative people need time to think about problems and execute their solutions and this time should be protected and blocked out! I could not agree more.

The term is pretty self-explanatory, but here’s a good site that breaks down to the hows and whys should you need more beyond this definition:

The process of creating defined pockets of time for specific tasks.Time blocking

As I write this I’m at the tail end of an “at-home writer’s retreat” block that began at 8 a.m., or whatever time I woke up, which was actually more like 7:15 a.m., and continued through to 12:30 p.m. on this Saturday morning. The idea for the writer’s retreat came from The Blog Connect and, specifically, Sarah at Yes and Yes, who said she uses full weekend off-location retreats in her own life. “Brilliant!” I thought. Although, I needed to do so on a smaller scale. So, I blocked out the time and was UBER productive in the last 4-5 hours.

How I do it

In my day-to-day life, I use time blocking to achieve the wealth of goals and objectives I have for each week in a specific set of categories. On Sundays, I sit down with my Passion Planner. (If you have not seen this yet, definitely check them out. The company’s Instagram feed is a thing of beauty only planner lovers would appreciate.) I outline the physical activities — or times when my person is set to be in a specific location — I have for each day. This is work, workouts, non-work meetings and social functions.

Next up, write out the to-do list of things you hope to accomplish that week. For example, write each morning, achieve 7,000 steps a day, finish a sewing project and work on the blog. Now, plot out the dedicated time you will give to each of these tasks in that week. (This is usually where I realize what is going to be realistic in my goals for the week and what is not.)

Example of my weekly passion planner layout
Another example of my weekly passion planner layout.

Quiets the mind

Now, I’m able to start the week knowing what it is I need to get done and can get done with the time I have. The result is that my brain can go on autopilot. An issue that I struggle with is that I’m constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to do things. Something at work might trigger a thought for a volunteer initiative or a podcast may inspire an idea for a blog post. With time blocking, I can write these things down and know that I have time on Wednesday after yoga to work on it. Conversely, I may stop in my tracks on a walk dreading that I’m not going to have time to complete a task. But, with time blocking, I know that Friday after work I have penciled out time to execute that task. If I stick to the schedule, everything will get accomplished. (And the “if” there gets into a whole other can of worms for another day.)

Give it a try!


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