Wasn’t high school grand? You knew you had to show up for first period at a certain time (or morning practice for you over achievers). You went to your next class when the bell dinged. Your lunch time was decided for you. Not to mention that the day e nded every day at the same time (unless you did after school things, like clubs . . . or detention).
If you were the average teenager, then you did not have to worry about how to plan your day according to any specific schedule. In fact, you probably were just counting the hours to when school let out and you would have 5-6 hours of chill time before bed. Now that high school is over all that blissful leisureliness has come to an end as well. Now you have to know how to manage your own time or risk becoming an unreliable, and often un-hirable adult. *Sigh*
So, what is time management? Well I am glad you asked. Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity (thank you Wikipedia).
So, why is it important? Thank you for asking. Time management is important because if you plan to work, go to college, become a parent, and crush it at being an adult, then you need to be able to know how to organize the 24 hours in a day as effectively as you would organize your music playlist, or your designer shoe collection, or your DVD shelf. Time management could mean the difference of acing all of your classes in school, or flunking out, getting a promotion and raise at work, or getting fired, having time to hang out with friends and loved ones, or constantly flaking because you over commit to events.
Okay, okay we get it. Time management is important, but how do you do it? Well get comfortable, because I am going to share how Time Blocks will help you.
1) Time Blocking
First, you will need to break down a typical day with what you will be doing.
Do you go to work on a specific schedule? Do you have consistent tasks that take up large block of times? Maybe your days are veryerratic, but your tasks require a set time where you can devote to them. If this sounds familiar then time blocking is the perfect solution for you (and in my opinion the best solution for planning and time management).
On a piece of paper create a grid for a seven day week and enough rows for the amount of hours you will be awake every day. Using an excel spreadsheet or mobile/online calendar would also work for this purpose.
Here you can see an example I have from my own bullet journal. I made a vertical weekly spread and numbered my day beginning from the hour I wake up every day (or hypothetically aspire to wake up that is *cough cough*) and track the hours until I go to sleep (or at least the earliest I plan to fall asleep).
For this project you will think about your typical week and where you are going to be and what you plan to accomplish in this week.
Start planning your week by filling in the rows and columns with your anticipated appointments.
For instance, if you work a regular 8-5 job then for those columns and rows fill in the times that you will be at work. This will also work if you are a part-time employee, have multiple jobs, or are a stay at home parent. Block out the times and dates that you know you are going to be preoccupied with your work.
The first priority is to Block out times that are non-negotiable, you cannot move them around (without ramifications). This can also include doctor appointments, school, and hours you need to study for classes. Be sure to also include times you will need to get ready to attend these events and the travel time to get there.
Next, you will Block out any other events that you are involved in; like clubs, charity functions, going to the gym, religious functions, family gatherings, or anything else that will take time from your week that you plan to attend.
To separate events and their priorities or categories, I find that having a coding system helps when needing to do a quick overview of the week. Right now I am using a bullet journal system and for work I block out time using a specific print of washi tape. The same goes for when I need to work on the blog, work on my other side business, or times I plan to focus on my fitness and wellness goals. If you want to create an excel spreadsheet or use a mobile/online calendar there are features that let you color code the different categories. Example here:
Next you will want to Block out the times that you want to devote to adulting “to-do’s”.
This can be something like on Thursday evenings at 7pm you plan to do your laundry (gotta make sure to have clean undies for the weekend yo’). Or, Monday night you round up all the trash cans in the house to take to the bin outside and place on the curb for the dump truck to take away in the morning. Putting these casual “to-do’s” in your calendar makes it more of a sure thing that you will actually do them, rather than think to yourself “oh yeah I gotta do that thing.” and then never actually get around to it.
Once you have Blocked out the times that are non-negotiable and “to-do’s” you can see the times of your week that you have to do things you would enjoy.
Say you want to make plans to go tubing down the river with your friends, by seeing what days and times you have available you will be in a better position to make plans (and won’t seem like so much of a flake if you cancel because you forgot you had to be somewhere else). Add these plans to your calendar as well, so that you do not forget them either.
Time blocking is my favorite time managing tool for knowing where and when I need to be somewhere, and I believe you will find it useful for yourself too.
Probably the most accurate term for what I am about to describe. Micro-Blocking is where you break down the tasks you would complete within each time Blocked.
Say you are going to spend 8, or whatever, hours at work. . . well, what are you going to do in that time? It would be beneficial for you to Micro-Block your work day in order to complete your work tasks more efficiently.
Say you work as a clerk for some large corporation, you know you need to complete filing by a certain time in the day so you can Micro-Block that time of the day for filing. Or, if you work in retail and you want to break up your shift into organized tasks, then Micro-Blocking is helpful for you too. For instance, from hour 1 to hour 2 you work in such and such section, and hour 2 to hour 3 you work in that other section. Micro-Blocking allows you to maintain efficiency with your labors.
If you are a student, and you have set hours each week you plan to study, then you can Micro-Block those study hours with sections of a textbook you need to read, or homework problems you need to complete within those hours. By breaking up your study tasks into blocks of time you need to devote to them then you can more effectively stay on top of your study habits and more efficiently complete what you need to get done. You are also less likely to waste time in your study Block by wondering what you need to do and what order you should do them.
These are only a few examples of how helpful Micro-Blocking can be for your time managing needs, but believe me there is are infinite opportunities to use Micro-Blocking for anything and everything you have planned.
How to use Micro-Blocking in your calendar is also very easy. If you are using an excel spreadsheet or a mobile/online calendar, then you can easily input these Micro-Blocks in a cell or New Appointment related to the time you Blocked for the big event (see example of Apple calendar above). Depending on your device’s features you can also add notes to these appointments to list the tasks you would need to complete that Blocked time.
If you are using a physical planner, calendar, or bullet journal then using a color coded pen system would be very effective or otherwise utilize a coding system you can understand and easily repeat.
By using Time Blocking you can optimize your calendar and find that you have the time to do all the things you want to do on top of all the things that you need to do.
Once you get the hang of time blocking you can then explore the various calendar tracking methods like Google calendar, Apple calendar, Excel, bullet journaling, planners, and wall calendars.
What is most important to you when having a calendar system? Are you an analog person and have to write your calendar down or do you embrace technology and keep everything on your devices?
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