Mar 18 2009

Blocking Your Time (for Overly Committed, Perfectionist, Somewhat Structured Creatives)


8-days-a-week

The 8 Days a Week Planner can be purchased from Bob’s Your Uncle.

So from my prior time management posts, you’ve come to expect my talking talking talking followed by a distorted print screen (I don’t try to give you a distorted print screen – I just don’t know how to fix it!). But this is gonna be different: this is an interactive exercise.

Yeah yeah, I realize that a blog can’t be interactive, but what you can do is print out this post & fill it in, or email me for a Word document that you can work within. I hope to offer this as a free exercise on my website sometime within, oh, the next 5 years. Or months. OK, months.

So now you’ve managed your to do list and your weekly task lisk. But now how do you actually find the time to do everything you need to? Easy. By Blocking Yo’ Time Before You Lose Yo’ Mind.

Yes, I’m consistent with my silly names. Let’s get started.

First step of Time Blocks: Don’t talk about Time Blocks. Take your tasks & write them down. Use the left hand column of the chart below to put each task on its own line.

Second step of Time Blocks: Assign each task a category. Sample categories include:

  • Business – Direct Revenue
  • Business – Indirect Revenue
  • Personal – Obligatory
  • Personal – Social
  • Personal – Health
  • Personal – Creative

Use the right hand column in the chart below to assign a category to each task.

TASK

CATEGORY

Third step of Time Blocks: List the categories you came up with & assign each one a priority number (1 is Super Top Priority, with the numbers going up as the priority goes down). What’s most important: performing in a local show (Personal – Creative) or building a website for your business (Business – Indirect Revenue)? Try to throw out the “shoulds” & focus instead on your “wants”/”needs”. And don’t think that just because a category has a high number that it’ll be forced off your calendar – you can make time for everything that you want!

CATEGORY

PRIORITY

Fourth step of Time Blocks: Here’s where you’re going to be blocking your time by category. Yes, it’s excitingly scary. But if you do this and follow through (there’s always a catch, ain’t there?), you will become more focused and therefore will achieve all of your hopes and dreams, complete with rainbows and kittens and sparkles. Or something more manly, if you prefer.

For example, here is what my Saturday looks like:

  • 11a-12:30p: Personal – Social
  • 12:30-1p: Personal – Obligatory
  • 1-2p: Personal – Home
  • 2-4:30p: Personal – Health
  • 4:30-6p: Work – Indirect Revenue
  • 6p-12a: Personal -Social

Now, for me, I know that Personal – Obligatory means cleaning my house & myself. I know Personal – Home is any home-related tasks like buying small baskets to display my toiletries in the bathroom or cleaning my kitchen. I know that Work – Indirect Revenue is anything having to do with building When I Grow Up & Personal – Social could be talking on the phone to a friend or watching TV with my man. It might seem very strict, but it enables you to do what you want within those Blocks. And by blocking your time like that every day, you’ve been in the time you want to devote to running, or journaling, or making out with your significant other.

I have to be honest in saying that, when I first made a schedule like this, I had trouble sticking to it. I liked the idea of saying, “Wednesday nights from 8-10p is Personal – Creative time” but in reality I know it’s not that easy. Life happens! Invites happen! Commitments happen! And some of them, like going out for dinner for your spouse’s birthday, just can’t be moved to a non-Personal – Creative night. So when Life happens, you don’t reject the invite. Instead, you just flip-flop for that week: swap Personal – Creative time with Personal – Social time & you’re good to go. As long as you don’t get caught in the trap of moving things around so much that they keep getting delayed (& delayed & delayed), you should be good.

Because I spoiled ya with those beautiful, expensive, detailed charts, I created one for each day of the week! You can thank me later:

MONDAY

TIME

CATEGORY

TUESDAY

TIME

CATEGORY

WEDNESDAY

TIME

CATEGORY

THURSDAY

TIME

CATEGORY


FRIDAY

TIME

CATEGORY

SATURDAY

TIME

CATEGORY

SUNDAY

TIME

CATEGORY

Having trouble? What it really boils down to is that you need to be honest with yourself and figure out what’s really your #1 priority and how much time you really need to devote to that goal. Really and truly. For me, I thought hanging with my friends was the same as completing my schoolwork was the same as building my business was the same as watching TV, which is when I started to get that gasping-for-air feeling. It’s actually very scary to Grow Up and say, “Right now, I need to concentrate on graduating from school in time & not being rushed with my requirements. I am not going to miss class for a happy our, or delay writing my research paper because I want that time to veg in front of the TV.” And while I still don’t like disappointing my friends with “no”‘s to their invites, it actually feels good reinforcing my #1 goal. Also, I know that I’ve blocked Fri & Sat nights for social time & I can always see them then – so it’s not like I’m ditching my friends or holing myself up in my apartment every waking moment.

Fifth & final step of Time Blocks: Follow it. This, my loyal & trusted reader, is the hardest part by far. If a week-long commitment is too much, do a one day commitment. And then if that wasn’t painful, do another. And another. Be true to your schedule above and see what happens. And if Life Happens, flip-flop. Another little known rule of Fight Club.

SUPER EXTRA TOP SECRET BONUS TIP!!! It’s been proven that 45 minutes is the optimal time for uni-tasking: it’s not too long, it’s not too short, and it’s the perfect amount of time to trick yourself that you’ll only do a task for 45 minutes – so it won’t hurt too bad. If you’re not looking forward to a task or category, but you know it’s gotta get done (cleaning the bathroom, anyone?), take a deep breath, set a timer for 45 minutes, and go. No stopping until the timer goes off. At that point you can either walk away from the task (“My face looks gorgeous in that toibowl!”) or take a bathroom/wine break and reset for another 45 (“I’m on a roll! Shower scum, here I come!”) I guarantee results or your money back.*

*Please note that this super extra top secret bonus tip is free.


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POSTED IN: Happy Hooplah
COMMENTS: 2 Comments


2 Responses to Blocking Your Time (for Overly Committed, Perfectionist, Somewhat Structured Creatives)

  1. Julie Bestry says:

    I'd say "deja vu, much?", but the (old) first rule about time blocks was…(shhhhh). I love hearing you talk about time blocks.

    You've gotten right to the heart of the matter when you pointed out that a) turning things down make make you wince short-term, but helps you realize you're making strides towards your #1 PRIORITY, and b) making blocks allows you still have flexibility in your life, to swap one block for another. Win-Win, eh?

  2. admin says:

    You're the source, Julie B! And yes, time blocks ARE win-wins. They've really been helpful for me in not only planning my time, but committing to it as well.

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