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“Be there in 30 minutes!” Somehow, 45 minutes later I’m still at home getting ready.
Can you relate?
I was horrible at time management.
If I had to be somewhere at 10 you could bet money I would be at least 5 minutes late.
I hated being late because I know people are busy so it’s rude to have them twiddling their thumbs waiting for me.
But I didn’t have the skills I needed to make it out the door on time.
Every time I said, “it’s gonna take me 45 minutes to get ready,” it would take me about an hour because I didn’t account for the time when I’m finding a song on YouTube or a new podcast episode.
And once I had my daughter my time management was even worse.
This time blocking guide for busy moms will give you the skills you need to manage your time like a productivity pro.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a genius method of time management where you divide your day into blocks.
The secret to making this method work is to focus on one task or group of similar tasks during each block.
This method is much more effective than a never-ending to-do list because you’re scheduling when you’re going to do the task instead of just knowing the task needs to be done eventually.
The crucial element to making this technique work is to prioritize your tasks for the day in advance.
Here’s how to easily do that:
- Do a quick brain dump of things you have scheduled for the week and things you want to get done
- Prioritize your list starting with the most important tasks
Once you know what’s most important, you’re ready to start making your time blocks.
But, before we dive into the “how-to” of time blocking, here’s why you’re going to LOVE managing your time this way!
Key Takeaway: Time blocking creates a structured day with less confusion and debate about what needs to get done and when it’ll get done.
The 7 amazing benefits of time blocking
These amazing benefits are why every mom should be using time blocking to defeat the chaos that comes with everyday responsibilities.
1. You know what’s important
Since you’ve already prioritized your to-do list, work from the highest priority tasks down to the bottom of your list.
2. More Focused
When focusing on one task or a group of similar tasks, your brain doesn’t have to stop and process that you’re doing a new task.
You’ll get into a deep level of concentration where you’re doing what needs to be done without even thinking about it.
3. Learn to say “no”
When you’ve got a block of time designated for a high priority task, you’ll learn to say no because you know that if you say yes to them you’re saying no to yourself accomplishing this task.
“You have to learn to say no without feeling guilty. Setting boundaries is healthy. You need to learn to respect and take care of yourself.”Lessons Learned in Life
4. More intentional with your time
Time blocking defeats the dilemma of underestimating how long something will take.
You’ll be more intentional with your time so you won’t throw off your entire schedule and you learn to be more realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day.
Mom tip: If you get off schedule don’t panic! Simply skip ahead to the next time block.
5. Higher follow-through
When you schedule a time to get something done you’re more likely to follow through with your commitment.
6. Less perfectionism
So many of us use perfection as a way of procrastinating.
We plan, plan, and plan again until we’ve exhausted our brain and now we’re watching YOU on Netflix.
The simple solution for this is to set a timer and complete the task during that designated time.
If you’re making your time blocks for the entire week, schedule time the day before for planning.
7. Fewer distractions
Knowing what your priorities are and that you only have this designated time to work on them, makes you less likely to waste time scrolling through Facebook.
No more surfing the web for 5 minutes that turns into an hour.
4 typical reasons why people fail at time blocking
As amazing as time blocking is, it can be overwhelming or ineffective if you make these pesky mistakes.
1. Being too strict
To be honest, I’m not a fan of schedules. I like being spontaneous and whatever happens, happens.
As a mom, having structured days is less taxing because everyone knows what’s planned for the day.
Even my toddler thrives with this structure. Although she has no idea it’s noon, she still gets ready for her nap around that time.
We also know that stuff comes up and can throw off our entire day.
Here’s the thing- time blocking isn’t a strict, set in stone schedule.
It’s a guide so you know what your priorities are and when the best time is for you to tackle that task.
Hopefully, that helped you loosen up a bit and worry less about failing.
2. Not scheduling downtime
You’re busy, I get it. And sometimes you’re exhausted before you even get out of bed.
Don’t get crazy and fill your schedule with things to do until the late hours of the night.
You have to take breaks.
Your break may be sitting on the couch watching tv with your toddler or lying down while your husband cooks dinner 🙌.
Create a few time blocks for relaxation so you don’t get burned out.
3. Misusing your energy
Do you know what time of day you have the most energy?
If not, start paying attention.
This is when you need to schedule the tasks that require the most energy or a majority of your tasks.
If you have the most energy in the morning, don’t put most of your time blocks at night because it’s less likely you’ll accomplish them.
4. Giving up
Some days won’t go as planned and that’s to be expected especially in the beginning.
You may think dinner will take 45 minutes to cook but 1 hour and 15 minutes later you’re still in the kitchen listening to your stomach growl.
Here’s a quote from Abby Lawson, a successful work from home mom who utilizes time blocking,
“It rarely goes exactly how I have it planned, but…It keeps me on task, and a lot less likely to go down the Facebook rabbit hole, or get distracted by something else because I know that if I take too much time on this task, it pushes the rest of my schedule back.”Abby Lawson
Key Takeaway: You’ve gotta learn how to be flexible and jump back on the bull when you fall off.
The secret weapon to supercharge your time blocking
Adding task batching with your time blocking method will skyrocket your productivity.
But what the heck is task batching?
I’m glad you asked.
Task batching is when you group similar tasks that require similar resources together to be completed at the same time.
So what the heck did any of that mean?
Here’s an example of how I task batch.
Every Sunday as part of my meal planning routine, I cut all the veggies for the week’s meals.
Another example is when I want to vacuum, I go through the house and get everything off the floors so I can vacuum all the rooms at once.
It’s less efficient to vacuum, stop to declutter, and vacuum again.
Let’s be real, our brain needs time to stop and process every time we switch tasks.
That’s valuable time and mental energy wasted which increases our chances of a Netflix binge-watching session.
Increase your efficiency with task batching so you’re not taping your eyelids open at the end of the evening.
The 6 steps to effective time blocking
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for! The process of time blocking is quite simple.
To write your time blocks make sure you grab the free Productivity Power Pack which includes a time blocking template. If you prefer to use a digital calendar, I like Google Calendar because it’s color-coded making it easier to keep up with your block categories.
Mom tip: Use alerts for 30 minutes before the time block is up and again when the time is up so you’ll know it’s time to move on to the next time block.
Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Brain dump
At the end of each week, take the time to plan your tasks for the upcoming week.
It’s perfectly fine to do one day at a time if you want to ease your way into the time blocking process.
Write down anything you have scheduled and things you want to get done for the week.
This way you’ll know what’s in store for your week and you won’t be surprised when you get a notice that you missed your eye doctor appointment you scheduled 6 months ago.
Step 2: Prioritize
Take your brain dump and prioritize the list starting at 1 being your highest priority.
With each item on your list ask yourself if this is something you have to do, you should do, or you want to do.
Also, think about what tasks can be delegated to someone else.
Step 3: Categorize
Based on your brain dump, create general categories all of your tasks will fit into.
These categories could be:
- Family time
You should be able to put multiple tasks into each category.
Step 4: Batch your tasks
Once you have your categories set up, arrange your tasks so similar tasks are completed at the same time.
This would be like mopping all the floors or dusting the whole house.
Step 5: Create time blocks
The length of your time blocks depends on how structured you want your days to be.
And not every time block has to be the same length of time.
My downtime time block is much longer than my cleaning time block because I’m a happier mom when I’m relaxed.
Use the time blocking template inside the Productivity Power Pack to figure out how long you’ll designate for each time block.
Don’t forget to avoid underestimating your time. It’s better to schedule too much time for a task than not enough.
Mom tip: Keep your time blocking template visible so it’s easier to stick to!
Step 6: Daily review
At the end of the day, look over your schedule.
Celebrate everything you accomplished!
Reflect on the tasks you didn’t complete and decide if you want to fit them in another day or if they’re not important anymore.
This is also the time to make changes to the next day’s schedule for any tasks that come up or if your priorities have shifted.
Time blocking teaches you how to be intentional with your time so you’re no longer the mom who’s always late.
The key to success is figuring out a system that works for your lifestyle.
Trial and error will help you master your schedule and get more done in one day than you were able to accomplish all month.
Give this time blocking method a try for at least a week and let me know how it goes!