Get more stuff done with time blocking
Sometimes I feel that as a business owner I’m called to be super human. There’s often so much to do, and so little time to do it that setting a list of priorities is the only way to survive. I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to recognize when something needs to shift, when something is a priority, an opportunity, and a distraction and I’ve seen many business owners struggle and suffer by NOT knowing the difference.
The good news is, it can all be solved with a calendar and schedule. I know that seems overly simplistic and possibly not even real, but stick with me, I’ll explain exactly how this concept can change your life.
Let’s face it, building and managing a brand (i.e., your business) requires a lot of energy. The more energy you have, the more you can do. The less energy you have, the less you can do (or the worse you are at it!). I try to keep my energy at a high by eating well (I’m vegan and sugar free) and making sure I get at least some moderate amount of exercise, but that’s not enough.
When there’s a deadline, an issue comes up, or I catch a case of “the blahs” I rely on my calendar to get me through successfully. Throw a husband, children or family in the mix and things get dicey. My husband Darren fought against the concept of us “making an appointment” with each other for a long time. Until he realized that having me as a calm, focused and happy wife was a better thing than the alternative.
Time blocking is a process of grouping the tasks that you have to do together in a set of blocks. The length of the blocks are totally up to you. For instance, there will be the “time with family” block, the “sleeping” block, the “cleaning” block, the “speaking to clients” block, the “reviewing financials” block etc.
Time blocking works best when you stick to the schedule consistently. For me, that means I do seasonal blocks. My time blocks change when it’s warmer outside, or when it’s colder. I’m on the East Coast so I inherently have less energy in the winter, so I change my schedule accordingly. If you’re on the West Coast you may not have that challenge.
Here’s how I organize mine:
1) Start with a full 24/7 weekly calendar. Each day of the week, and each hour of the day. It’s easiest to just print every day of the week on 1 sheet of paper.
2) Brain dump the categories you want to block. Here are some to get you started: sleeping, eating, preparing food, bathing and dressing, travel to work, travel from work, work, free time, entertainment, family time, chores, walking the dog, etc.
3) Now look at your categories to see which you can break down further. For instance, with work you can break it down to staff meetings, client calls, administrative work, production work, lunch break, free time (in case of emergencies), marketing, follow up, etc.
4) Now, in order of priorities, start to allocate how much time you wish to give to each of these categories and block your calendar. I like 9 hours sleep each day, so my calendar is blocked from 10:30 pm – 7:30 am for sleep each day. My next big priority is time with family, which happens (don’t judge me) for 1.5 hours each evening, and most of my weekend. This may seem low, but it’s realistic for me, I have no guilt around it, and it works.
5) Once all of your blocks are in, edit and adjust to make sure they are logical and actually work. Do you spend more time talking to clients than being productive? That means you’ll want to group your client calls, and limit them to a minimal time that gets the job done.
Now that you have the gist of it download my time block calendar, which includes a blank template, and work on yours today. You can get really creative with it. use colored highlighters to identify certain categories. Do it in Google Calendar and code it and print it (just create a second calendar in your settings). I bet if you do this for just 2 weeks you’ll be energized and charged more than you are today and you’ll (hopefully) call me and thank me for it.
That’s it for now. Enjoy the process and use it to build an exciting life! As you work on it come back here to post any questions if you get stuck, or just let me know how it’s going.