Early in the year, I am always so eager to get more organized and stay on top of everything. I make all sorts of plans to work better, plan better, do better, and be better. I do pretty well for awhile, but eventually, things sort of fizzle out and I go right back to my old habits.
Does this sound like you?
It was definitely me for the longest time. But, the reality is, you own your own time. We don’t normally think like this, and tend to let time control our days. If you think about it in terms of owning your own time, things start to make a whole lot more sense. So, how do we take control of our time? It’s such a simple concept…Don't let time own you! Find out how to be the master of productivity right here! #smallbiz #wahm Click To Tweet
We take control and master productivity by time blocking!
I know, I know. Everyone cringes when they hear these words. I did, too! I’m way too much of a free spirit for time blocking. That’s crazy-rigid and intense. Planning out every minute of my day? No, thank you.
And then, I tried it, and I realized I can make time-blocking work for me! I’m able to really stay focused during my work time, because I have a time set aside for everything. If I remember while I’m writing out blog posts that I need to check my email, that’s okay. I have time set aside for those tasks later in the day. I simply jot myself a note and continue writing.
The key for this to be successful is to allow for some flexibiity. I can’t be rigid about my daily structure. I’d never stick with it! I write out my ideal day, and know that it will almost never go exactly to plan. The goal isn’t a perfect day, though. The goal is to have a good, general overview of what my day will look like, so I can master productivity and avoid distractions during work times.
How to Create Your Time Block Schedule
When I was a new mom, and participated in moms groups more regulary, we always shared our daily schedules. I remember being amazed at how structured some of the schedules were, and always wondered what I was doing wrong. (Isn’t that the badge of motherhood, though? Wondering if you’re doing it wrong?) My daily schedule looked so different than many others. What I didn’t realize then, was that our needs were different than theirs, too. I’m pretty free-spirited by nature, and will feel confined and stressed out with that type of schedule.
You have to make your schedule work for you.
The only way you’ll be successful with scheduling your day is if you make your schedule work for you. It shouldn’t happen the other way around. So, before you do anything else, write out a list of all of your “must-do’s.” Remember to add things like self care, housework, family time, down time, work tasks, errands, and anything else you must do each day to keep things running smoothly.
After that, figure out the ideal time you would like to wake up each morning. Do you like waking up early? Or do you function better with a late night? You can always change this later, and it will evolve over time (just ask this night owl turned morning person!), but the important thing is to write down a time.
The way I figured out my wake-up time was by thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in that time. I wanted a bit of quiet time to wake up and drink coffee, and I also wanted to use that time for my writing. This is a task I can’t do with daily distractions, and by evening my brain is too tired to focus. Naturally, first thing in the morning is best, so I needed to give myself enough time to get into productivity mode and get something done. I settled on 5:30, which gives me a little over an hour before my kids get up.
Prioritize, and get your schedule on paper.
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Now that you know exactly what you need to fit into each day, and what time your day will start, it’s time to look at your set schedule. This is the stuff that can’t change. For me, this includes errands on Mondays, school drop-off and pick-up, after-school activities, appointments, and volunteer hours.
Write in all of the time sensitive tasks using your calendar or even this pretty printable. Now, you’ll be able to see what time you have left to work with. This is where it might get hard. Often, once we look at our schedules down on paper, we realize there really isn’t enough time in the day to fit everything we need to do. You can try waking up earlier, or staying up later, but it’s important not to sacrifice self-care when trying to find more time in your day. More often than not, this means that it’s time to make some hard decisions. Prioritize your tasks and figure out what needs to go in order to give you the time to truly focus on your main goals.
Related: Time Management Tips for Moms
This part usually isn’t easy. I know, because in the last year, I have had to eliminate a lot of really great things from my life. It’s important to remember that while something might be good, that doesn’t make it the best. I like to filter all of these decisions through my ultimate goal. If it’s something that will help me accomplish it, it stays. If it won’t, it goes. Sometimes, mastering productivity means making hard decisions!When you filter every possible commitment through your big goals, you'll know when to say yes or no. #goalgetter #wahm Click To Tweet
Fill in your free time.
Now that you have your list of must-dos, your ideal wake-up time, and your set schedule in place, it’s time to start playing around with what’s left. We all function differently, so you’ll have to figure out this part on your own. What do you think would fit your needs best first thing in the morning? Do you want to wake up with a fresh mind and get right to the hardest work of the day? Or do you feel more inpspired after everyone else goes to bed?
Are there any dependable times during the day that you can work on your business? Or is that time better spent doing housework or running errands? This is where you need to really consider the rhythm of your day and find what works best for you.
For me, personally, I like to start my day with my most focused work. My mind is fresh, I’ve “slept” on my idea, and I know I (generally) won’t be interuppted. Then I do some unfocused work for a few hours mid-morning while my toddler plays. Sometimes she needs me more, somethings she wants to play on her own. Still, I try not to get too wrapped up in my work at this time. I keep this to simple tasks like checking emails, playing with graphics, or checking out other blogs and businesses. During her nap, I’ll go back to focused work hours and finish up whatever I didn’t complete that morning. My afternoons and evenings are busy being a mom and housekeeper, and then I do some light work before I go to bed.
Related: How to Work at Home with Kids
Show yourself some grace.
Regardless of how you schedule your day, once you are done, your schedule should be full. You’ll have places written in for all of your appointments, work times, errands, and even self care. It’s important to note, however, that this is just a guideline for your day. I know mine rarely go to plan, but I like having it all written down. This way, I can make sure I have time for everything I need to do.
Take Control of Your Life and Master Productivity
Life can be chaotic. Add in a business and kids, and it becomes even more so. You don’t have to let your life control you, though. If you are striving for more prouctivity every day, consider writing out your schedule and see where it gets you. I find that when I don’t have to think about what comes next, I’m able to get to work with less distraction and get more done.
Of course, I couldn’t dangle a pretty printable in front of you through this entire post without offering it to you, right? If you’d like a copy of my daily docket and time blocking calendar page, it is available as a part of my small business organization starter pack, which is free for email subscribers! You can sign up and grab your copy right here.
Have you tried time blocking yet? If you have, let me know how you liked it in the comments below! If not, give it a try. It might be just what you needed for your productivity!