HOW TO USE TIME BLOCKING TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE AT HOME!
Updated: May 7
One of the biggest hurdles I faced as a new stay at home mom was that I just didn't feel productive day after day. I left my corporate job where I had thrived on getting tasks and projects completed, to then all of a sudden having more free time on my hands, and a whole lot of work without any deadlines. I took the many small necessary things that needed to be done as a house wife and mom for granted. In hindsight this was probably due to the fact that its never been on my "to-do" list to get basic household chores done- I just did it like clock work. But now I had all week to get it all done and with all this new found freedom, lack of sleep, and a crying baby I found myself exhausted, overwhelmed and deflated because I felt like I couldn't even get the basics done. Things were seemingly slipping through my fingers and I had no direction.
Thats the thing, I felt like I wasn't doing much, but I actually was between feedings, quick clean ups and last minute laundry days (side note, isn't it amazing how much laundry you do with a newborn?). I quickly realized that I was letting my day control me instead of me controlling it. Then it hit me, if I could see it all visually and designate a time to everything I needed to do, then I could get a good idea of where my day was falling apart and I could really see what I needed to change. When I worked I thrived on time blocking and keeping workable lists of all my projects. Organizing my time always kept things together and moving along... and if I were still working I would be using a time management system to stay motivated and on top of all of my responsibilities, so I thought, why couldn't I try this in my home life too?!
The best system that worked for me as a stay at home mom was, and still is Time Blocking. Once I started organizing and planning my days out using this system I started seeing a shift in my attitude and I started to get a feel for what I could accomplish in a day to day basis between bottle feedings and changing diapers. Keeping a schedule also helped me with not being so hard on myself when I set unrealistic goals to be done on an average weekday while my hubby was at work- like purging the garage.
While I adapted the time blocking time management technique to meet my needs as a stay at home mom, it isn't just beneficial for moms that stay home its great for working moms, work at home moms and all busy moms that need to get things done, stay motivated and keep life balanced day after day!
Why Time Blocking Works
Time blocking is a system where you can organize, prioritize and schedule your tasks into blocks of time on your calendar. Having a daily schedule planned out is like having a budget for your finances - budgets allow you to organize your money - giving permission to spend money as needed without worring about taking away from another priority (like your rent and utilities), well, think about time management the same way - it allows you to balance yourself to get more done and reach new goals - its the permission you need to allocate time to things you need and want to do.
Time blocking also allows you to realistically set goals by visually seeing everything you need to get done that day, which is another reason organizing your many responsibilities into a visual color coded system makes sense, you can group your tasks more easily with like tasks and get a clear understanding of how much time you spend in a day on a given task or groups of tasks. It's nice to see how much time I'm spending on momming with a quick glance and know how much time I can allot myself for me time or blogging.
Another perk of time blocking is that it allows you to see your goals every single day. Looking at long term goals daily not only leads to more productivity and success but according tomedium.comit helps keep your focus on your priorities, strengthens your commitment and helps avoid procrastination.
Here is how I set up my schedule on a typical day using a time blocking system.
Organizing the time
As you can see, I jam pack all of my life responsibilities into my calendar and allot a time to them. I have categories for different buckets of responsibilities from me-time to kid activities, cleaning, blogging, vlogging, home tasks, shared calendars and anything else that needs to go on there. It's great to see all of my "buckets" of responsibilities being met on a daily and weekly basis. I tend to lean more to an approach where I lock in my activities that are non-negotiable such as doctors appointments, feeding times and the fundamentals of managing my home and family, then I fill in the in-between with my cleaning routine, personal items, reminders etc.
Though there are a few more ways this system can be worked to fit your needs. Todoist has a great breakdown on their website on how to organize the time block system to fit your needs.
The first, is task batching- in which you task similar smaller tasks together so that you can work on them to get them knocked out in a smaller amount of time instead of having to refocus your attention multiple times a day on the same 'like' task. For example spending 40 minutes logged into your computer and getting groceries ordered, reading emails, responding to said emails and paying bills.
Secondly, day theming - and just as the name suggests you would assign specific groups of tasks to focus an entire day such as possibly cleaning and laundry day. Although admittedly I think this would work the best if you had little ones in school so that your day could ultimately be focused on work, however, as it stands I do commit Fridays and Saturdays to getting the home clean from top to bottom while also tending to my two boys... its a sort of hybrid day theme.
Lastly, time boxing - similar to the general rule of committing to a schedule, time boxing is more just a solid commitment to finish a task within a certain amount of time. For example, instead of blocking out time to get something started, lets say dusting, you'll commit and hustle to get the whole house dusted in less than an hour and block out an hour on your calendar to get it done... its more like your to-do list met with intense action and commitment.
No matter how you manage your calendar lets just take a moment and be honest, I realize that there are kids and parters/spouses in the mix to make things extra interesting. This time management approach isn't a hard and fast way to get it done, it works if you work it, but life always gets in the way and that's also the beauty of it... there are some days you can get more done in a day than you typically get done in a week and then other days you may be re-arranging your calendar and need to reschedule things to work on the following day. The great thing is that its all there and you know exactly where you left off so that you can re focus and carry on when you can.
Staying Organized & Putting it all Together
The best productivity hack out there is to stay organized, it applies here too. Keeping all the things that need your attention in lists or a journal you can constantly manage and move over to your calendar will help you from forgetting about things if life gets hectic. Consider creating a catchall somewhere you can refer back to and constantly add to if it can't go straight to your calendar. I have used TickTick for years and love how you can keep lists and instantly convert them to a time block just by adding a date and time to your to-do task. I now keep my shopping lists, kids activities ideas, craft ideas, reminders ... and ....well, you name it its in there!
So tell me, how do you manage your time and what makes you feel productive? And I am I the only one still doing heaps of laundry everyday? let me know in the comments. :)