So a friend (ok she’s really my business coach) posted a FB question the other day in our coaching group. She asked us to share how we time block our days.
Once upon a time I rocked the time blocking thing.
Me and my Franklin planner could CRUSH a day. Tasks and projects were no match for us.
And then, along came the digital world and I moved to the realm of Outlook… and I lost touch with time blocking and effective to do lists.
Now, don’t get me wrong – Outlook has got some good uses, and I loved that I had everything in my phone all the time. Sadly, it never felt efficient. Using Outlook to manage tasks or block time to finish them is a tedious and manual process. Even worse, when I open Outlook, I get sucked into the black hole that is email follow up every. single. time.
So I moved from Outlook to Google calendar and … tasks? hello? tasks? Ok, not here…
And from there I moved to a dozen other tools trying to find a good blend of project management, task list and calendaring. #thestruggleisreal
And I gave up.
As with all important things, magic happened to get me back on track. My coach asked the question…
how do you time block?
She read my mind.
She felt my pain without me even mentioning it. She just got a vibe from the Universe that said, “say something about Time Blocking today to save Mandy from herself.”
Ever have that happen? Sure you do! It is creepy and SO very helpful!
So I went back to the drawing board – literally.
I thought about my struggle between the groovey old paper and pen method. About why it worked so well for me and what I still needed from it. I love the idea of brainstorming my day – putting pen to paper really help me get it done. Plus, I can go back in time, see how things looked on any given day. The downside to pen and paper is space. I don’t want to have to keep track of the paper. to carry it with me when I travel. That’s why I loved the electronic solution. It is portable.
I thought about the new programs and apps and what I loved, what I have tried and tried, and why none of them have really gained traction for me. I knew I needed portability, but I also wanted the dynamic interface, where task lists and calendars could coexist. Where they were easy.
With my mental energy on duality and a desire to find a healthy blend of old school and “cutting edge” – i fired up my friend google and then this happened…
before we talk about the solution, you might want to know how I really operate…
A Normal Day
Every morning I get up around 5:30 AM and start on my “most important to do ” list. This is a standing list that repeats every day.
- chillax with my coffee and my favorite guy before work – watch the sun come up if we can.
- Yoga – 20 minutes with Adriene (youtube, check her out).
- Gratitude journal – I do this one to set my energy moving in a positive direction every day – it’s like vitamins for my brain.
- The mind moment – where I open the flood grates on my brain and let all my thoughts and ideas flow out on a page, no rhyme or reason, just get it ALL out.
- Prioritize – I check in on the goals for the day and then chart the course using the flow to guide me.
Here’s how my “go with the flow” page looked the other day:
I’m just unloading the ol’ thinker on to paper. I realized a while ago that if I don’t, the day is guaranteed to run amok on me. Notice it is on paper? And using different color pens? I didn’t say I was chaotic, just that I had lost the beauty of time blocking and had not found a tool that worked for me yet.
Honestly, I knew that I was falling apart on that last step. Prioritizing was ewasy but staying on task – oh man… it was a problem. I’d pull up gmail to get a contact, get distracted by an email, answer the email by getting info from an event in Facebook, and before you knew it I was lost in the rabbit hole of social media and online communication.
WHAMMO – it is 5 PM and I am no where on the list.
(for you entrepreneurial types, you know that “ouch” generally comes with $$$ attached to it)
After the prompt from my coach, I decided to regain control. I ran a simple google search for Time Blocking to see what would happen. Within 30 seconds was introduced to Plan.
Plan and the people who develop it are my heroes.
Within minutes I had created a free account linked to my gmail account and lookie there – within an hour, my day was set, all my project tasks were organized and I am now back in my happy place. The screen shots below are my projects and tasks from the current plan and you can see it even works against my real calendar and contacts.
and best of all? Plan is web based and has an app for iOS. I can maintain my platform agnostic ways AND be offline!
I seriously want to marry these people.
The beauty is, I can still keep my paper, it just won’t govern the work. It will be where I start the planning for the day, not what guides me from task to task. I feel empowered. Enlightened. Happy that I get to keep my colored pens.
If you are caught in the in between world like me, bust out a piece of paper in the morning and let you mind flow to the paper. Then, give Plan a try. Get your to do list organized and then block time to get things done. After you’ve worked in it for a few days, give me a holler back and tell me what you think. Maybe we’ll even have a dashboard contest or something cool in the future!
And don’t forget to include time without structure. My evenings are open, and a only plan them if I have to.
I mean – #duality all the way – amiright?