time blocking can be an effective time management strategy
There was a period of about 3-4 months when my schedule was extremely busy. I was juggling three different jobs and my own school work. Not to mention, it was the middle of a pandemic and I was packing up my personal belongings to move to a different state as well. I’m usually very good about managing my time using Google calendar and my to-do lists, but I knew I needed something extra if I was going to make sure everything got done.
I did some research on time blocking and adapted it to fit my needs. How many people approach time blocking is to keep a consistent schedule and do similar tasks in that block. For example:
7am-9am – Morning routine/family
9am-11am – Emails/meetings
11am-1pm – Lunch/ light to-do list items
1pm-3pm – Projects/deep thinking
3pm-5pm – Meetings/weekly planning
And so on. It could change daily or be a set weekly routine that someone follows.
I took this idea and combined it with keeping a calendar to schedule out everything that I had to do for the week and I did this every week. I color coded it by the job or task. Here is an example of one of my weeks.
As you can see, I worked quite a bit during that time. Thankfully, my schedule is a little bit lighter now so I don’t have to schedule so strict. However, this method really worked for me when I was juggling a lot of things all at once. The blue was my personal time to do whatever tasks or downtime I needed. I should mention I worked from home through all of this so it was easy to switch between jobs because it was often just a browser or device switch.
I certainly took breaks to get water, coffee, and use the bathroom. I followed good protocol to stand up at least once per hour and rest my eyes from the screen every 20 minutes. So while I didn’t follow this schedule every week to the exact second, I stuck to it pretty closely, and it really helped me accomplish everything without feeling overwhelmed. Every day, I prioritized the tasks that needed to be done that day and followed through on those items to the best extent possible. I had a weekly accountability call with a friend on Sundays to discuss our goals for the week and keep us focused.
Another thing that helped was scheduling times to check my email. Many days I have email open in the background and respond as messages come in if I’m not too busy. However, on days or weeks when I know I will be very busy working on projects, reports, and meetings, I schedule checking email into my calendar. That way, I have the tab closed so it’s not distracting me from my work, but I know I’ll get to it because I’ve prioritized time to deal with it.
I will definitely use this method again during busy seasons of my life!