My number one difficulty in self employment is time management. Realising that you no longer have set times that you need to be working means that you either work the entire day, or you just slack off. You need to work more because more work directly = more money, but you need to work less because you still have friends and family who like seeing you. Balance is important.
I don’t want to work so hard that I stop creating or living. I don’t want to feel guilty about not working. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And then Nina shared her block schedule, which gave me the final push. It is for all of these reasons that I’m trying detailed block scheduling.
For me, block scheduling serves many purposes: planning how I would optimally fill my day, feeling less guilty if I’m not doing something I should be doing, being more productive and single tasking, and forcing free time. Here are the five steps to plan your days to their maximum efficiency (with a free block scheduling template).
How to Block Schedule
Step One: Brainstorm
Brainstorm the things that need to be done daily and weekly. Brainstorm what I want to do daily and weekly. Use untidy brainstorming handwriting. Write a rough idea of an average day.
Because I already know what an average day looks like for me, as well as what I want my average day looking like, this is easy. If you don’t already know this, you should keep track of your days with a tracker.
Step Two: Fill in a draft schedule
Fill in a weekly schedule. Use neater handwriting.
Step Three: Refine the schedule
Type it all up and print it out because it’s neater and more official looking and more likely to be followed.
A few things to note:
- I haven’t written in breaks – I get 15 minutes for every 45 minutes of straight work. I’ll be using my Pomodoro timer to track. Breaks in the morning are for breakfast, coffee,
- I’ll also be tracking my social media reading
- I’m going to be focusing on single tasking for everything except drinking coffee
- If I finish a scheduled hour before it’s done, that’s cool, I can carry on with work, I can do something else, or I can take a break.
- My first hour is for planning, or cuddling. My work day starts at 06.00.
- I only have 45 minutes dedicated to each MIT. I don’t do this because they are unimportant. I do this so that I’ll actually work on them and not get bored. If I get into flow then I’ll stay on that MIT and come back to the others later.
- I am only going to check email at 10.00 and 16.00. All emails that can be responded to in 2 minutes or less are done immediately. The rest is put into Todoist and filed.
- Gym/park is weather dependant
- Notebook time is the time away from my computer doing work.
- My last hour is not accounted for. I go to bed at 21.00. In the last hour of my day I’ll use it however I want to.
Step Four: Record
Print out a blank weekly schedule, and use it to track how you actually spend your hours.
For the tracker, I’m not trying to follow my schedule exactly. I’m trying to see what I do naturally with the block schedule as a guide. I want to see how close my schedule comes to my natural rhythm.
Step Five: Amend
Track and amend!