Last week I published a post about my travels into calendar blocking. It’s been a struggle but one that I am pretty sure I’m going to win… or better yet that I AM winning.
I didn’t realize, until I was speaking with some of you on Facebook last night that some of you may not be familiar with calendar blocking and I think it’s worth sharing here what it is and how I use it. I hope you try it and if you do please let me know how it’s working out for you. I’d love to hear.
what is calendar blocking?
Calendar blocking is taking the things you have to do and putting them on a calendar so as to give them a designated time to be done. I know we all have heard that the only things that should go on a calendar are events. If you really think about it, aren’t to-dos or tasks things that need to happen? and if they need to happen, in my mind they are events. If I need to get something done I have to make sure that I have time in my schedule to get it done.
Things on a to do list are great. I love my to do lists and I love being able to cross them off at the end of the day. I feel so productive when I look back and see all the check off marks. As great as I feel about looking at my checked off items on my to do list at times I can make myself crazy with the amount of things I think I can actually get accomplished. Having a very large to do list makes me overwhelmed and honestly drives my husband insane because I can be very compulsive and feel like I need to accomplish everything on the same day. Some things are more important than others and not everything on that list needs to get done….. Get a grip Ana…..
By taking those things on the list and placing them in time slots on my calendar/schedule I can actually see how many things I can actually accomplish. It also makes me assess the list and actually figure out what it is that I NEED to do and what are things that perhaps can wait a few more days or sometimes even months. Figuring out my priorities at the end of each day help keep me productive and keep the needle moving forward without driving myself and those around me completely insane. It also helps me with making sure that I don’t burn out….. and in a way keep some sense of work/life balance (if that’s what you call it).
How I calendar block!
On a weekly basis I review my goals and my calendar both for work and personal and begin plugging in things that I know are going to happen. For example, I know that every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, I have to get up at a certain time and be out of the house in order to catch the train by a certain time. So that goes on my calendar as recurring appointments.
- Wake up
- shower and get ready
- coffee and morning pages
- leave the house
I also know what time I have to catch the train at night and what time I get home. That also goes on my calendar as a recurring appoint. Then I add any hair appointments or doctors’ appointments that may be coming up. At this point the calendar is a bit fuller and I can see where I have time to plug in other things.
I know I want to read and review at least one book per month so I try to schedule reading time. I also know that I want to make sure I have time with my husband so I schedule time with my husband. I know that part does not sound very romantic but honestly it’s less romantic if you wind up not having time for your husband if you are all over the place trying to get through your to do list.
On a daily basis I review my schedule at the end of each day and prepare for the next day. I know it sounds a bit much but doing this at the end of each day allows me to reschedule anything I know I won’t be able to get to as well as make sure that any appointments that were originally scheduled in the beginning of the week have not been canceled or changed. We know things change often so having this time at night to review makes sense to me. It also allows me to get things out of my brain so that I’m not thinking about them when I’m trying to sleep. I really like sleep and if I can help not have that interrupted you better believe I’m going to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal :).
I also have a full-time job and as we all know meetings and court dates get rescheduled often which in turn may mean that doing that one thing tomorrow may not make sense anymore so why not replace it with something that may be more urgent?
Why Calendar Block?
Calendar blocking is not new. Ben Franklin actually used it. Maybe he wasn’t as anal as I am and kept things more general, but nonetheless he saw the importance of scheduling things. If you want to keep things more general like Ben and if that’s what makes sense to you, by all means. You should arrange and develope your own form of calendar blocking. The goal is to help you achieve your goals and be happier and more relaxed. Hey, it worked for Ben!
Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law? it’s not really a law but it might as well be. The “law” states that “work expands to fill the time allotted. To me this means that if I don’t schedule a time to complete a task I’m going to be working on that task for as long as I want…. or as long as I allow myself. When will I know that I’m done and I need to move on? I don’t so I just keep going.
Have you sat in a meeting that seemed to go on forever? That is the perfect example of the law in action. Digressing for a bit here. I have started scheduling my meetings for only 30 minutes. if we need more time then I find time on the calendars for another 30 minute session but I have realized that if I schedule an hour we will talk in circles for the full hour and other work is not getting done. We can more often than not accomplish our goal in 30 minutes.
The same is true for your to do list. When you allow yourself all day to do the things on the to do list more often than not the tasks will take longer because there’s really nothing telling your brain to stop the task. Your brain, at least my brain, feels like I can just take my time. By putting that task/appointment on my calendar I know that I have a limited amount of time to get the thing done. If I want to achieve a goal then I’m going to make sure that I get that done because right after that there will be other things on the calendar that are just as important to me.
Yes, I schedule time for a bubble bath, relaxing time and television time and I make sure I stick to it by setting alerts to remind me that it’s time to get to the next task. Go ahead, laugh….. my husband does so far this is keeping me on track. Calendar blocking has helped me greatly in being able to achieve my goals and I’m sure it’s going to help me achieve my goals in the future.
Some things I’ve achieved with calendar blocking (just for your reference)
- I began working at one of the largest financial institutions in the world;
- Received a promotion within two years;
- Started Paralegal Organization at that institution in 2016;
- Expanded the Organization to our international offices in 2017;
- Started working with non-profits to organize local events for fundraising;
- Another promotion and lead a team in 2018;
I am not saying all this to impress you. Believe me, it’s been a whole lot of hard work. I am sharing this to show you that if you want to make things happen the best way to do it is to make sure it’s on your calendar and that you are dedicating as much time to it as you can possibly do. If it’s important to me, it’s going to be on my calendar. You better believe that.
How do you achieve your goals? What’s your secret?
Thanks for reading!