Earlier this year – and by this year, I’m technically talking about December of last year! – I decided I needed a planner change. Y’all know I’m a Happy Planner fan and have been for a long time. That hasn’t changed. But I was finding that having the three dividers just wasn’t working for me. I was getting lost in my day, skipping over things that needed to be done…It was time for a planner change. I’d been looking at the Teacher Planners for quite a while and decided to pick one up and customize it to what I wanted it to be. You can read more about why I chose a Teacher (and created a Writing Notebook and incorporated a Mini-Happy-Planner, too, here).
What I like about blocking out my days is that everything is in order. When I was dividing my days into three “areas” – Home, Writing, Family – I was forever skipping over the things I didn’t want to do (hello, unfolded laundry!) in favor of what I wanted to do (why, there you are project I’m not set to start for another 3 weeks!) and missing a LOT of stuff. And not just the “mom” stuff of dusting or carpooling, but sometimes even writing stuff. I needed a better solution and after Googling a lot and reading a few “plan a better life” type books, I thought block scheduling would be a huge help. Only, when I first started, I was simply setting up the blocks in my Teacher Planner like I had my old planners – a box for house stuff, a box for writing…and it was the same vicious cycle of skipping over X in favor of Y. So I adjusted and created a time-blocked schedule where each time-block of the day has specific tasks. So far, it’s working. Here’s how I set it up.
Step One: Figure out how many time blocks you need. I like having five blocks, some people like four, some six. Whatever works for you, try it. Five made sense to be because there are five basic “parts” to nearly every day in our house: getting up/getting bebe off to school, morning, lunch/early afternoon, after school run/homework/practices, and dinner/evening.
Step Two: Make a list of all the things you do daily: working out, meal prep and eating, house chores, grocery shopping, writing/editing, post office and school runs. Everything you do should be on this list. Don’t worry about prioritizing the list, just get everything down so you can see all the things you do in a week. Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry, that’s what the next step is all about.
Step Three: Figure out what Key Activities fit the best in each block. A “key activity” is a most-important: you should have a “most important task” for each of your blocks. If you have five blocks, choose your five most important activities and think about where it makes the most sense to put those activities. Create a new list, with the number of blocks you’ll be using, and fill those in. My five are: Working Out, Writing, Business (which includes graphics/websites and additional writing), Family, Me Time. Once I’d figured out my focus for each block, it was time to fill in the other activities.
Step Four: Fill in the “extras”. For me, working out fits best when I first get up, but during that block I’m also getting the kiddo off to school, having breakfast, showering, and even doing a quickie email and social media check. I’m also most productive, writing-wise, in the mornings. So I set up my second block as a strictly Writing block. No social media, no email, just me and the pages. BUT. I can fit in a few loads of laundry while I’m writing (because no one should be stuck in a chair for 3+ hours!) or unload the dishwasher. Next comes lunch and my Business block: a check in with email and social media and a little outside time, maybe 20 or 30 minutes. Then back to writing if I haven’t met my daily goal, or time with graphics, editing, website updating and that kind of thing. My third block is the Family block – it’s the school run, homework, karate practice. Then comes the Kristina block – it’s me time, time to read or watch a favorite show or maybe sew or do something else creative.
It may sound weird that separating my blocks out by time works better than separating out by task, but it does work for me. If you find you’re struggling to get things done or that your planner feels like a jumble of “stuff” that you can’t keep up with, consider changing up how you plot your days – you may just need a change in your planner scenery!