The Great Time Blocking Experiment

by Amy on August 8, 2017

 

God this is a boring topic. But I just have to because so many of you are suffering like I was suffering.

It’s summer.

The sky is blue.

The kids are home.

I just got the Tennis Channel.

It’s so hard to get anything done!

I’m definitely not as ambitious as I once was. In fact, I scaled way back in my business to enjoy my kids while they still think I’m cool. (They like their dad better than me.)

But I still have goals. I forked over a large sum of money to an editor, so it might be a good time to actually finish my book. I also want to rank up in my essential oil business (judge all you want — it’s fun!) and before summer even started I pledged to organize the fiasco that is my storage room.

Since returning from an epic three week adventure with the family, I have been watching tennis, playing tennis, nibbling on hurricane salads at the pool while gossiping with my mom friends as the kids swim… and occasionally writing and selling a bit of doTERRA. While the piles and piles of photos lying on the floor in my storage room haunt me.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I play so much tennis, I picked it up as a hobby after I quit drinking three years ago. I am now as obsessed with tennis as I ever was with alcohol. In the same way I needed booze to have fun on vacation, I find myself wondering “but will they have tennis courts,” whenever the topic of travel comes up. My husband and I have an app that shows us the nearest tennis court via GPS when we are on a road trip. Tennis doesn’t pose a threat my liver, so I’m sticking with it.

Anyhow, I finally decided I needed to get some actual shit done. I was reminded of a tool I have used before while listening to a professional development podcast: Time Blocking. I know, I know. It sounds awful right?

Well I’m NOT new to blocking out time on my calendar. Every year when the kids start school, I open up my planner (My latest fav is The Start Planner) and mark all the field trips, open houses, etc. When I had a full coaching calendar, I would block two days a week off for coaching, one day a week for writing, one day a week for marketing, you get the idea.

“Put the big rocks in first,” I have been told by productive people, “so the smaller ones can fit in between.” It’s true. You can’t fit any big rocks in your glass if you pour the gravel in first.

Summer is THE time for lots of leisurely activity. Travel. Swimming. Trips to the park. Tennis. Barbecues. But I just haven’t been able to find the balance between enjoying these things and getting stuff done.

Can you relate?

So I decided to take time blocking to a whole new level. As an experiment, I started blocking out every single day. I made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish in the month, plus all the things I wanted to do with my family then sat down, opened up my planner and blocked out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I left Saturday open and used Sunday to plan meals, order groceries (a habit I fell out of doing over the summer) and do the budgets.

It worked! Granted my kids were in camp the first week. But I was productive in a good way. I wrote. I worked on my oil business. I actually made progress on sorting the photos in my storage room.

The following week was trickier because my girls were home with me. I ended up having to ditch some time blocks to spend time with the girls and I got a babysitter for other time blocks I wanted to keep.

By the end of the month, I completed a huge chunk of my book, ranked up in my oil biz (thanks to those of you who helped me win my contest!), got started on my photo organization project AND even hosted a “One Day Harry Potter School of Magic” for 25 kids.

I still cannot believe I got all that done!

Here’s what I learned from my Time Blocking experiment:

1. A Plan is the Best Manifestation Tool

I don’t care how many vision boards you have or how crystal clear you are about your goals. If you don’t schedule the time and do the work you aren’t going to manifest what you want. Time blocking is the best manifestation tool I know.

2. It Doesn’t Limit You

I thought blocking out my time for the day would feel like a prison sentence BUT it actually helped me find real time to do the things I love.

3. It’s Not Either / Or When You Time Block

Before time blocking I worried I’d spend too much time on a goal, wasting the whole day on it and neglecting my family. So, ironically, I didn’t do anything at all. Now I’m actually getting things done AND enjoying the summer. I have the time blocked out so I know when to stop.

4. Less Overwhelm Equals More Creativity

Before time blocking, my mind was overflowing with amorphous shit I knew I needed to do and wanted to do. Now that I have it all down and blocked out, my mind is free to be more creative. I notice it in my writing.

5. I’m More Motivated

Something about having a schedule to look at and follow makes me feel more motivated than staring at a blank calendar. It’s easier to skip the nap because I’m accountable to the calendar. For some strange reason that keeps me from this scenario:

6. Pencil is Required

Sometimes you have to ditch the plan. People cancel meetings, kids get sick, you change your mind. Use pencil and an eraser. It’s okay to change your plan.

7. Time Block Fun

I made a list of all the things I still want to do with the family before school starts. I know that without this list and the times blocked out in my calendar, a lot of these things would never happen because it’s so easy to get sidetracked.

Okay… you might be thinking that time blocking is just not you. I get it. Maybe budgeting isn’t your thing either. I felt a ton of resistance to BOTH.

Here’s what I’ve learned…

Keeping track of time as with keeping track of money works. It feels stifling, something for the left brained among us.

But I know YOU have shit you want to get done. We all do. It’s easy (especially if you have shiny object syndrome like me) to get distracted — kids are home, the sun is out, tennis is on.

Try your own time blocking experiment.

You might be blown away.

I was.

Here’s a pic of my big accomplishment in July. All because I had support from my community and I learned how to schedule time to succeed.

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