The concept of time blocking (dedicating specific hours to do specific tasks) isn’t anything new. I used to plan out my weeks this way and it was working out really well.
Then I had a baby ….. and my system went out the window.
The typical time blocking method requires you to follow a schedule that you create for yourself. The problem was that my schedule was no longer 100% up to me. I now had a baby whose routine would vary week after week. Her nap times were constantly changing so sticking to my time blocks seemed impossible. I needed a system that would allow more flexibility in my schedule.
After months of trying new planners, to-do apps, and scheduling methods, I came across “Block Scheduling“, a system I learned from Jordan Page, and it’s made a huge difference.
time blocking vs. “block schedule” system
With the typical time blocking method, you assign a specific date and time to complete your tasks. You then input them into a calendar to get a visual idea of what your days will look like. What you end up with is something like this:
Here, you have a clear plan of what you should be doing each day, hour by hour.
Although this is a great way to stay productive, this method was no longer working for me. I work part-time and the rest of the day is spent looking after my 2-year old daughter. Our routine is always changing, and trying to stick to a schedule, hour-by-hour, was taking a toll on me.
my new “block schedule” system
With a block schedule system, instead of giving specific dates and times to each task, I predetermined a few time block chunks, in increments of 2-4 hours, throughout the day. I then assign my specific tasks to each time blocked chunk, instead of assigning each task to a specific time slot.
After analyzing my weekly schedule, I came up with the following time blocks that work for me:
When I lay it out on a calendar it looks like this:
I then list the tasks I need to complete into the specific time block chunk. Here are some examples of tasks that would go in these blocks:
My goal is to complete all of my tasks within that block of time. I can do them in any order but once that time block is up, I move onto the next list of tasks in the upcoming block. This method allow me to be more flexible with my time because I can decide in what order to complete the tasks that I have to get done.
the flexibility in this method
A good example of the flexibility in this method is during my “Work | Nap Block“.
My daughter naps for 1.5 hours any time from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. So 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm is designated as my Work | Nap Block.
During this block I’ll assign one task that I need to complete with 100% focus, something that I can get done during her nap. I don’t have an exact time blocked out because I don’t know exactly when she’ll go down. But, as soon as she falls asleep, I get to work on that one item I had already planned for.
What I also like about this method is that it becomes easier to categorize your tasks for the day.
For example, if there is a time block during your day that works best for running errands (i.e. not during nap block), when something comes up that involves running an errand, you know exactly what time block this task would fall in.
As always, getting started takes a bit of time as you figure out which time block chunks make sense for your life and schedule. But once you have determined those, and start getting into the rhythm of planning out your week, it will be worth it. Especially if you’re someone that needs a bit more flexibility than following a schedule hour-by-hour!