Time Blocking: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?
Part 3: Prioritize
Prioritize is the second step in the time blocking system. Part 1 was an overview, and Part 2 was the plan, where you became aware of and recorded the many tasks that make up your days.
Here's where you get to choose how you spend your time! It's starting to get exciting.
A quick reminder of just some of the benefits of using the time blocking system:
Finally, being able to get the truly important things done.
Free up mental bandwidth.
Peace of mind knowing you’re not forgetting anything important.
Thoughtfully establishing a routine and creating good habits.
Focusing on one task at a time results in better quality and more efficiency.
As we go through these steps, remember to give yourself grace. Life isn’t perfect, you and I aren’t perfect, and no system is perfect. Time blocking is also not about micromanaging every second of every day; that’s not possible - or desirable.
You can start with one category of tasks or one block of time that you set aside just for appointments or weekly menu planning. It’s up to you and what will help you become more successful in your life.
Let’s jump in and start prioritizing!
Hopefully, you spent the last week listing everything you do on a daily basis to get a better picture of where your time goes.
You chose to do either a major brain dump of every task as it came to mind or took meticulous notes as you went through each day. Either way, you gained a more thorough and realistic understanding of the things that take up your time. Were there any surprises?
So you’ve got a gigantic, disorganized list, right? Now what?
Decide What's Important
Now you get to decide what’s important to you. What do you want to accomplish? Although I’m going to offer possible organizational categories and group some tasks logically, this is just one way of thinking. You group things however it makes sense to you for your life.
Remember, the key to getting what may be the most significant benefit from time blocking is to take the time to prioritize everything.
Non-negotiable tasks fall under one of two umbrellas: tasks that are under your control, and those that are generally not.
Not under your control:
Functions and events
Walking the dog
These are all activities over which you have little or no control. You’re not able to choose those times. Or are you? Maybe you can negotiate another time for some of them; you won’t know until you try.
Outsourcing is popular these days - whether you can have someone else in your family help out or hire a VA (virtual assistant) to do some task that either isn’t worth your time monetarily, you're not very good at, or that you genuinely dislike. Hate mowing the lawn? Hire a landscaping service or a neighborhood teen. Not good at writing blog posts? Hire a content writer. Give it some thought; it may be an option for you.
Under your control:
Checking email - yes, I’m putting this one first. Let’s be honest.
Eating and cleanup
Review your finances/budget
Self-care needs to be at the top of your priority list, so please don’t neglect this category! This is one area most of us tend to let slip in favor of “more important things,” so I’m including it in a category of its own, even though it is also in the Non-Negotiable category.
We ignore self-care at our peril, so why do women especially think taking care of ourselves is selfish or unnecessary? Let’s take better care of ourselves so we can be the best possible version of ourselves, live the lives we were created to live, and be in the best shape to help others. Make sense?
Exercise - go to the gym (if you don’t have to wear a mask) or exercise at home. Find some steps and climb or run them! Park your car as far away from the store as you can!
Hobbies - it’s the perfect time to dust one off or develop a new one!
Do some tai chi or yoga
Drink lots of water
Practice deep breathing
Get a massage
Try a new hairstyle
Go for a walk
Buy a new outfit
Take a bubble bath
Dance like no one’s watching
Make a new, healthy dish once a week or monthly
Movie night at home
Dream - I’m serious. Give yourself some space in your life to reflect and grow.
I recommend setting aside specific dedicated times during the week for appointments, if at all possible. Obviously, sometimes we’re just grateful to get an appointment if something urgent comes up, but in general, schedule appointments in advance so you can get the times that will work best for you. Whether it’s Tuesdays between 2 - 4 or Thursdays between 9 - 12, keep them to the same one or two days a week.
We all know that relationships need nurturing to survive and thrive. And especially in our current situation, relationships have become even more critical for our mental and emotional health. (FB sent me an alert for merely mentioning a 7-digit all caps word with a hyphen and then a 2-digit number, hint, hint, so I’ll avoid naming the obvious. Seriously, FB?)
Your relationship with God - this can include church, Bible study, prayer, etc.
Time with the kids
This section is for entrepreneurs & other business owners. We can’t fly by the seat of our pants if we want our businesses to grow and thrive. We’re in business for a reason - probably several, but foremost is to help others.
As with personal tasks, some business tasks should be scheduled daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly.
Delivering your product or service
Evaluating what’s working and what isn’t
Creating the next product or service
Knowing the financial picture
The one thing you need to do each day/week to move forward
Clearly my lists are not intended to be all-inclusive, just enough to get you going. And I do hope you're finding this series helpful. Let me know!
Next week we’ll put all the pieces together and you’ll start blocking out your tasks, making time work for you for a change!