Breaking Down Time Management & Time Blocking
I want to give a step-by-step time management approach to help you juggle all the things. It’s time to learn the tools to put the smackdown on your 2021 goals.
You’re busy this time of year, but I seriously urge you to give this process a try. I promise that by the end, your mind will feel clearer. And you’ll be ready to take on this next year, goal by goal. Or find the time to meal plan each week.
But first, it’s time for reflection.
What’s the current way you handle your to-do list―Does it make you feel like you’re spinning your wheels? Are you so overwhelmed with everything that you don’t feel like you have time to add a single thing more?
Take inventory of your stress level―Stress takes a toll on the body. When your time management isn’t helping you get tasks done efficiently, you experience mood swings, fatigue, sleep loss, and a decrease in focus. Prolonged symptoms of stress can affect your overall health and wellbeing.
Channel Mel Robbins Take 5―You know I love Mel’s valuable techniques. I use them every single day to keep myself focused on my goals and in a calm frame of mind. If you’re not familiar, Mel Robbin’s says to follow the 5-4-3-2-1 process and then act.
- Take 5 deep belly breaths.
- Have 4 minutes of mental silence.
- Think about 3 things you’re grateful for.
- Decide the 2 things that have to get done today to move the needle.
- Consider the 1 reason why these tasks are essential. How do they fit into your long-term plan?
Step-by-step process to gain control over your time management.
- Do a mind dump – Early in the week, list all the things you need and want to get done in the next 7 days.
- Cut that list in half – This is where you get real with yourself. You can’t do all those things and not crash by the end of the week.
- It’s time for a time audit – Write down everything you do, when you do them, and how long it takes for 2 to 5 straight days. This sounds counterproductive when you’re already busy, but it’s less overwhelming than you think. Just carry around a small notebook to jot things down quickly. Knowing where and how you spend your time is crucial for future week planning.
- Reflect on where you spent your time during those 2 days – it’s shocking to see how long some tasks take due to distractions. When I did this, I was like, DUH! No wonder I run late getting out the door. I had a habit of stopping in the middle of getting ready to jump on Amazon to “quickly” reorder items I needed.
- Get Specific with your calendar – Each week, make yourself take the time to plan out your calendar. While things will come up occasionally, do your best to stick to your plan. This step is where the sense of control really begins to take place. Here are some best practices that I feel work well for my calendar:
- Use a color code system – “work items” – blue, “personal items” – purple, “goals” – yellow. Add more colors for things like “kids activities,” “work activities,” etc.
- Put blocks of personal items directly on your calendar to make sure you do it. This includes self-care time, your appointments, and working out.
- Set time for goal-specific tasks. You’re not going to move forward without taking the time for your goals, so make this a priority.
There’s no doubt about it, we get sidetracked with other tasks. I like to call these, Parking Lot items. The important thing for effective time management is not to stop and do them right then. Here are some ways to manage those random to-do’s that show up in your brain:
Sticky note system –
When you remember something you need to do, but you’re in the middle of something else, write it down, so you don’t forget. Color-code tasks you need to come back to. For example, I put things I needed to do around the house on a blue sticky note. Things I needed to order or do on a purple note. This way when I have allotted time to clean up some parking lot items, I can tackle one category to maximize productivity.
To-do list on your phone –
Both Android and iPhones come with a pre-loaded app for notes and to-dos. If you’re someone who carries your phone around with you, quickly add your phone list tasks. The perk with this is that you can also set a reminder for a specific date and time. BE DILIGENT TO ONLY GO TO THE NOTES SECTION. Otherwise, you can find yourself taking up 20 minutes of time by scrolling social media when you really just intended to jot down a note.
Carry a notebook –
If you know that you have fleeting thoughts while in the middle of blowdrying your hair, folding laundry, right before bed, or any other task, get in the habit of having a small notebook with you. Then you can refer to it later when you’re planning out your day or week.
When there are tasks that you need to be laser-focused on, don’t try to multitask. Block off chunks of time dedicated solely to a specific thing and do only that during that time. Turn off all of your notifications on your phone and your computer. Make sure the only tabs open on your browser are the ones you’re using now (I’m the queen of a zillion tabs, but I realized I focused so much better without them all open). Finally, repeat after me, NO MULTITASKING.
Here’s the thing about multitasking. It sounds like something that makes us more efficient. And there are situations when multitasking is necessary. But when it’s constant, and we’re bouncing around like a ping pong ball, we get nothing accomplished besides a through-the-roof stress level.
When I did my time audit, I realized that my multitasking was actually making me less productive. I would run all over the house to put things back in their places, only to get distracted by another mess that needed my attention. So while I was just running a couple of books back to a bookshelf, I’d see a mountain of papers that needed to be sorted, then I’d find a bill that needed to be paid, which would lead to me being on my phone looking at something else…see what I mean? Without focus, multitasking can lead you down a rabbit hole. A deep one. With no end.
Get honest and realistic with yourself about how long something is going to take you. When I first started getting detailed with my calendar, this was hard for me, and I was always going over my time blocks. As you can imagine, this caused me to get off course every week, and I still felt like I was getting nowhere.
To ensure that you don’t railroad yourself on your calendar:
- Create a 10-15 minute buffer between tasks (or more if you’re unsure how long a particular task will take you).
- Make sure you take a break every 90 minutes.
Like everything, figuring out the best way to manage your time will take a little trial and error. Trust me, follow this process, you’ll become more mindful of how you spend your time and how you plan your calendar.
This time-management method has been a great system for me personally. I was a rockstar at time management with my corporate job, so I was usually feeling pretty productive at the end of each workday. But then I’d get home. And there, I used to struggle to get through my never-ending, beyond overwhelming to-do list. I’m sure you can relate.
As mothers, we have a lot on our plates. I’ve got 3 kids who need me, meals to make, a house to clean, and a side business to run…the list goes on and on (I know I’m preaching to the choir here!). It’s hard at first, but it’s important to lower our expectations of ourselves a little bit. This, combined with changing up some habits, will get you closer to crushing your goals. For example, I get up a little earlier to sneak some bookwork in for 15-30 minutes before I workout. And before bed, I plan out my time to read or write in my gratitude journal. I created more time for myself by ditching some screen time to focus on more important things.
After reading this, you may be feeling overwhelmed. If you’re wondering where you can fit in some time for YOU, maybe it’s time to elicit help from your spouse and kids. They love you and want you to be happy, so have a conversation with them. Get everyone on the same page so that you can free up time for more important tasks. If you’re searching for a way to get your kids involved in my household chores, check out my simplified kid chore routine.
I am here
If you’ve tried to get support from family and are still feeling trapped, maybe some personalized coaching can get you where you’ve been trying to go. I would love to lend you a hand in this area, as you can see I get a bit passionate about maximizing productivity in order to achieve goals – hence how I was able to start this blog. Hit me up to schedule your free 30-minute discovery call to learn more about what personalized coaching could look like for you, and if we’re the right fit for each other. It is important to me that you can get the most of your time and resources, not to waste your time if I’m not what you need.
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