YOUR TIME IS LIKE INTERLOCKING BRICKS
There are things we fill our lives with that are a range of sizes: from big, toddler-sized bricks, all the way down to the tiniest 1x1 circle brick. (You know, the ones we always vacuum up first?) All these pieces all actually fit together though, even though at first glance they don’t look like they do.
Think of your productivity in life as the structure you build with the bricks. You have a maximum size that you can make it (we all have 24 hours). But within that size constraint, you can have as many pieces as you want.
You could choose to use the toddler-bricks, and have say 6 things you get done in a day.
On the other side, you could have 600 teeny-tiny 1x1s on a flat board.
Generally, I’d say we all have a combination of many different sizes of bricks to our day.
But how do you handle all of the small pieces? How do you come up with the optimal combination of large and small bricks?
I’m going to suggest a few ways, none-of-which are multi-tasking.
I seriously just heard you exhale a sigh of relief. (You didn’t think I knew that, did you?)
Here are some things that definitely will optimize your day’s bricks.
I know, you’ve heard this before. You haven’t done it yet because either a) you didn’t take the time to learn what it actually is, or b) you weren’t taught HOW to do it and gave up.
It’s not simply color-coding a section of your calendar for an activity. That’s the generally accepted definition out there in the blogosphere. It’s so much more than that.
In it’s most basic form, it’s simply a group of similar activities. But here’s the thing - you get to decide for you what those similar things are. Yeah - how about that? I’m not actually going to tell you that there’s one right way to do this!
If that feels overwhelming to you, let’s take a step back. I’m going to ask you a question. Do you KNOW what you’re doing all day? Or do you THINK you know what you’re doing all day?
If the concept of grouping your tasks together seems hard, you probably fall into the THINKer category. But don’t get down about it - there’s a solution. Keep reading. Don’t jump off the wagon yet.
To figure out where to even start with your time-blocking, get a piece of paper, and a pen. (No, it doesn’t matter what kind of paper, or what pen, just grab something out of the junk drawer. Don’t get too lost in the details here.). For the next two days, write down everything you do. That’s it. That’s how you find out what you are truly spending your time on each day.
Once you know what you’re currently doing, you can move forward with what you want to be doing. Group together your like tasks/activities on your calendar, and stick to the schedule.
A different spin on building your day out of bricks is to build with only one color on a given day. We’ll call these theme days.
Theme Days are simply designating a day for a certain kind of activity. Again, WHAT you do on the day, or how you assign the tasks to the themes is completely up to you. If you’re stuck, go look at the things on your list that you’re already doing for some ideas.
Think about the things you HAVE to get done. Theme days can be things like writing day, cleaning day, laundry day, financial review day, photograph editing day, customer follow-up day, etc. Those are just some ideas.
BUILDING YOUR CALENDAR
In reality, your calendar may have a combination of both time-blocks and theme days. Mine does, for sure! But how did I know how to assign the things?
It truthfully comes down to the questions, “how often do I have to do this group of things?” and “how long do these things take me to do?”
If the frequency is weekly or daily, you probably want to use time blocking. If it’s more like once a week or once a month, use a theme day.
Some examples I have are Tuesdays are Financial Day. I do all of my financial ‘stuff’ that day. Reconcile receipts, get everything into QuickBooks that’s not already there, make sure the bill payments are going as scheduled, move money around between accounts, or research new investments, etc. Yes, I do other things that day, but after the financial stuff is done. And, during tax season, I do nothing else on Tuesdays. Ahem.
I use time blocking to arrange my weeks around the theme days though. Short blocks for emails, social media (yes, I have to turn it completely off in between!), a weekly block for meal planning, writing pieces of my book, blog posts, or marketing copy, for even for getting my kids up, ready, and out the door for school.
It really comes back to the old saying, Failure to plan is planning to fail. There’s a whole mindset piece to this too - you have to respect your time. Once you put these things on your calendar, consider them scheduled like a doctor’s appointment. You wouldn’t just blow that off, and you deserve to treat yourself the same way.
On the flip side of this - don’t over-schedule. Leave some blank blocks for things that drop in, and for FUN and FREE TIME. That’s why you are even doing what you’re doing - the pursuit of freedom and happiness. Now you have the right tools to award it to yourself.
And anyone asks what you’re doing Friday Morning, you can tell them honestly, hey, that’s self-care time, and I’m getting a massage. Guilt-free. Because you’re on top of everything else.
Share in the comments below: What was your biggest takeaway from the post and what do you plan to implement?
Jessica is a certified life, business, and success coach, turning chaos into order and creating resilience. She's a mother of 4 kids, 20 chickens, and 2 dogs, nature lover, book devourer, chronic student, and over-zealous volunteer in the community. She is super passionate about helping women succeed with their individual dreams - and giving strategy and automation to their business to make it run on autopilot!