I wish I could say I manage my schedule well all the time. But the truth is, time management is a process of constant adjustments. My business and personal life are completely entwined. Even worse, it alters week-to-week, even day-to-day. I NEED flexibility in planning my week.
If you’re a working parent with kids in multiple activities, or your life is somehow impacted by someone else’s schedule, then you’re in the same boat.
This year has been crazy for me as we moved our family across the country, remodeled our new home, dealt with the adjustments of finding our way around a new state/city and making new friends, and had to restart two businesses that were on hold for a large chunk of the year. So I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t use my own Time Blocking system, or any system for that matter, because life didn’t “fit” into anything for almost an entire year.
Now that the dust is settling and I’m revving up my businesses and getting new clients, it’s time to bring order to a very chaotic schedule.
After months of having no normalcy, there’s now enough consistent movement in my business and personal life that I can begin to guide aspects of my schedule into tracks and start managing my days better.
Plus, I was rather forced into no longer procrastinating due to taking on new clients. (Which is a big: WHOOP, WHOOP. OH, YEAH. HALLELUJAH!)
I REALLY WANT TO GET PAID
Even though I know in my head I need to keep on top of Time Blocking, I just don’t always do it, and I LOSE TIME because of it.
So….after getting a request to add more projects to my already full life, I knew I had to go through my own Time Blocking system and see if I really had any additional time AND figure out what in the world was hogging it all anyway.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to be busy working, I want to get paid for it. And there was no question I was doing a lot of work but not getting a lot of pay. (That’s actually multiple issues, but this post is to show you how I figure out what in the world is happening in my days! And then decided how I really want to fill my calendar up.)
What I thought would be a behemoth task actually took less than 30-minutes. After a short time of brainstorming and organizing, I had a clear picture of what my life consisted of, what needed to go/change, and how much time I could give my new client.
Okay. So this isn’t pretty. I didn’t take the time to lay out my workspace to make it look like a professional stock image. My workspace is that – an active battleground. And the calendar I drew out wasn’t for beauty purposes, it was for me to scribble all my random thoughts.
CAPTURE EVERYTHING ON PAPER
The first thing is to capture everything THAT IS WORK-RELATED in a week or month on paper. I actually started the process on a little sheet of paper and then moved to the big chart. (I keep a large flip chart on my wall to scribble thoughts/ideas).
- Determine how many WORK hours you want to have in a week. For example, right now I work from about 9 am to 9 or 10 pm at night. Obviously there are a lot of interruptions during the day so it’s not solid working. But I needed to discover how many workable hours in the week I am willing to do. I settled on 56 hours/week. (My other waking hours can be filled with personal stuff or whatever, but WORK is 56 hours.)
- List out projects, clients, networking groups, courses, etc…any TYPE of work you plan on continuing to do (or want to do).
- After that, I started with the most important tasks or with clients who already had regularly scheduled work, I added them into the calendar. If you have ANYTHING work-related that NEEDS to happen at a set time, write it down first.
- Think of each day specifically. Are there certain projects or tasks that you naturally gravitate to on specific days? (For example, on Mondays, I always work on my typewriter business because I’m finishing up packing orders from the weekend. So I made part of Monday a typewriter day.)
- Any days in the month that have a set meeting or gathering needs to be added, such as a monthly networking event. (I blocked out Fridays to focus on a paid course I signed up for that starts in Jan and goes through March.)
- Remaining tasks, projects, or time you need to work, record onto sticky notes. (Write the task and then a number to represent how many hours you need)
Then the math begins. Personally, I went through each business, client, task, etc. and assigned hours to them until I accounted for 56 hours. This forced me to prioritize.
As a result, I know exactly how many hours I can give to a new client. For example, I determined I have 6 hours a week open for work-related activities. My new client can take all that time or not.
CLEANING IT UP
Obviously, the first step in the process is really chaotic and messy. Time to pull out the gold nuggets from the mumbo jumbo. Write out each task/project you’ve identified and how much time each one gets. Also, record if that task/project has to happen on a specific day.
As you can see, I ended up with 68 hours a week that is scheduled. Yes, it’s more than the 56, but only 56 hours are work hours.
FILL OUT YOUR CALENDAR AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH MONTH
Just before the beginning of a new month, review the time blocking list and fill out a wall calendar or one in your favorite planner. Doing this helps solidify in your mind what your month will look like.
Personally, the beginning of every month, for the next three months, will look like this at first:
Notice I didn’t assign days/times to everything. Only certain tasks were given a permanent schedule.
Because my life is fluid, I block off hours within a week, but don’t assign specific times. This allows the ebbs and flows of my life to still happen. I use little sticky notes to write the task/project and the hours needed. I move them around as needed.
Anything outside of Flextime I guard very carefully. These days will only be touched if absolutely necessary. Otherwise, I work everything into the Flextime. (Note: My content/coursework day is actually flextime as well. I just didn’t show it in this photo.)
This is what I love about Time Blocking! I can move the work projects around my schedule using the sticky notes.
For example, yesterday I needed to take my son to an appointment and we were gone all day. Normally, I would do work on Microbusiness Mentor all day. Instead of panicking, I shifted my sticky notes around so that I could still be available for my son AND not lose time for Microbusiness Mentor. I bumped it to another day that had flex hours open. But, because I had to give such a large chunk of time to personal needs, there’s no wiggle room for the rest of the week. Any new requests will have to be bumped into a different week.
FREE TIME BLOCKING VIDEO COURSE
I created a Time Blocking mini-course a little over a year ago. It’s a short video course with templates and it goes into a deeper explanation. I’ll be updating the course in 2020, but until then it is FREE through Jan. 10, 2020.
Let me know if you take the course! I’ll be updating it in the next few months and would love to know how I can make it better for you.