I’ve been block scheduling since probably forever…truly. But, I’ve been intentionally block scheduling since University, and got even more into it once I started working full-time (plus part-time, plus more part-time…it really helps you keep multiple jobs/priorities/entrepreneur-duties in check!). I’ve talked about the book 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam before, and she does this wonderfully, along with helping you see where you are spending your time currently.
A lot of people probably block schedule unintentionally – I mean, we all block in our work week, extracurricular activities that are on a time table, getting kids to school and their activities that are required at an exact time. But, where the block scheduling really comes in handy is all those other lost hours where you think, “what did I just do with my time?”
I’m sure there are apps for block scheduling, and you can also use your phone calendar if you like. What I do is go old school (perhaps) and use an Excel spreadsheet. I love being able to spread it all out and see it, and then adjust accordingly.
I’m also not a crazy stickler and I adjust my block schedule as things come up – if a friend is having a birthday party, I’m not going to say no, because I have my food prep time blocked in – I will just move things around. That’s the great thing about the blocks…you actually know where your free time is!
Keep in mind, I re-do this block schedule every year as things change. Once I have it going, I also get into the habit of it, so I don’t have to refer to it every hour, ya know what I mean??
What’s tricky is that I don’t really have a “consistent schedule” (as I’m sure most of us don’t) for the reasons that I spend some of my time in New York and some of my time in Alberta, and those schedules look different; I’m an entrepreneur, so my job is not a consistent 9am-5pm, and it can change weekly; My husband works away a lot and only gets random days off (such as a random Wednesday), so scheduling in our “together time” constantly needs to change. But, I don’t let these things get in the way of creating the consistency that I can!
So, I don’t look at block scheduling as a sentence that I’m locked into; I look at it as a guide that helps me spend time how I actually want to!
Making It Happen!
Here is an example I created of a 9-5 job, to help anyone who is interested in getting started. You will see as you go along that there are quite a bit of hours of “Free Time,” so you can decide if that time should be spent adding more hours to the other categories, like working out and food prep, or if you just have more categories that need to be considered, such as kids’ activities, date night, etc.
.1. I open up an Excel Spread sheet and mark the top with Monday to Sunday and mark the left hand side with times (I like to do 30-minute increments from 6:30am to 11pm, but you can do whichever increment and start and end time you would like).
2. I start to mark in the big things that I know need to happen at a particular time. Ie. Work (for me this is broken into teaching, lesson prep, Pampered Chef and cookbooks, and website), and scheduled workouts/classes. As I go, I pick a colour to highlight these with for consistency, so for example, maybe you would like to make “working out” always green (this colour-coding can be done after if you like, especially if you think you will move stuff around in the schedule).
3. On the side, or even on a piece of paper, I have all the other things that I want to fit in marked down: Meditation, Getting Ready, Meals & Food Prep, Making Music, Reading, and Free Time. Other people may have things like: Commute, and Drive Kids to school and activities (Random Tip: always bring a book with you for when you’re waiting around!). I always try to think of ways I can double up – such as, making your commute time also reading time (if you’re on a train), or making your workout time also friend time! Get creative!!
4. That’s really it! Then you can print this out, or save it on your phone, and start referring to it, so time doesn’t just slip by unknowingly. I still have a paper calendar where I write my weekly schedule in, but this serves as my guide for all those weeks.
Two other tips:
**I always have a list in my phone each day for the consistent things I want to do every single day that serves as a check list, such as: Meditate, Stretch, Workout, etc.
**I make a list of what I want to do in my “free time” section, partly on the regular, but also through bucket lists, so that “free time” doesn’t turn into wasted/not-enjoyed time. My list may have things like: go hiking, explore my city, get caught up with a friend, etc.
I hope this was helpful for those who were interested, and soon I’ll put an ask out on Insta, so I can do a Q & A about anything that needs more clarification!