How exciting! You made it to the last step in figuring out how to manage your time better! First, we talked about to-do lists and why they are not effective as a single time management tool. Then, we discussed a way to organize your to-do list to start making it more effective. Finally, you are going to find out the best way to be more productive and do everything you ever wanted to do. I will share what I do on a day-to-day basis to fit in work, life, and all the responsibilities and not feel overwhelmed or stressed.
Okay, here goes – I am going to tell you the BIG secret in how I get everything done. There’s a bit of sarcasm here because it’s not really a big secret and it’s super simple! It’s called time blocking.
Time blocking is where you put your to-do list on your schedule. You block out time for each task by entering it in your calendar. Every task that you have to do should go in your calendar. Because you set a time for the task, you have a time limit on how long it should take you to complete the task. You stay more productive with time blocking because you know you have a limited amount of time to get something done.
Have you ever thought about how we all have the same amount of time in a day as everyone else? Yet, there are people who get so much more done in a day and it’s not because they have more time! Successful people get everything done by using a calendar and time blocking. They don’t just use to-do lists. If a task doesn’t get put on their schedule, it will not get done. It’s pretty simple.
Let’s take it step-by-step:
Step 1: Write out your to-do list
Making a to-do list is just the first step in better time management. Many people only use a to-do list and not any other tool. Guess what? They are not as productive as they could be. I used to only have a to-do list and thought I was always productive. Once I started incorporating time blocking into my life, I realized how wrong I was. I get so much more done than I used to.
You should make a list of everything you have to do in a day, from cooking and laundry to work to relaxation time.
Step 2: Organize your to-do list using the Eisenhower Matrix
Technically, you can do step 1 and 2 at the same time by writing your to-do list in the matrix immediately. Just keep in mind that you may need to move things around the matrix as you keep adding tasks. I discussed how to use the Eisenhower Matrix in detail in another blog post. You can go back to it to refresh your memory.
My secret: I often do not write out my to-do list in the Eisenhower Matrix. I use it but usually only mentally. I organize my to-do list in my head – what is urgent and important, important but not urgent, etc – and just put it in my calendar.
Step 3: Put tasks in your calendar on a weekly and daily basis
Step 3 is the time blocking step. I say to do this on a weekly and daily basis. At the start of every week – either Sunday or Monday – you should plan out your week with the tasks and events that you know of already. Then, every morning (or the night before), you should plan your day by adding tasks that need to get done or things you want to get done.
I, personally, prefer to use a paper planner. I do use Google Calendar at work and for events that get scheduled far in advance, but for my daily planning I use this:
My secret: I got into a habit of using a daily calendar by making myself want to look in it. I got into decorating my planners – using pretty paper, stickers, die cuts, paper clips, and washi tape. I have fun decorating it and then I want to always look at it and guess what? By always looking at it, I am always reminded of my schedule and to-do list! I end up getting everything done that is written in the planner.
Wouldn’t you want to look at this every day, too? 🙂
How does this method reduce stress?
Earlier, I mentioned that I can get everything done and not feel overwhelmed and stressed. You may be wondering how time blocking helps to reduce stress. Well, we get stressed by having too much to do and too little time to do it. With time blocking, everything you have to or want to do gets put on your schedule. This way, you know it will get done.
You don’t have to stress about everything you have to do because there is already a day and time for it to get done. This allows you to fully focus on what you are doing now and today.
You may be wondering if there is any flexibility in using time blocking. It seems like you plan your whole day and have no room for things to come up out of the blue. There IS flexibility in the time blocking method. I will have to go into more detail in another blog post!
Do you use time blocking? Do you have any other time management tips that work for you? Let me know in the comments!