Working from home has presented a unique set of challenges, whether you are a student, self-employed or an employee. One of the most challenging things I have experienced while working from home is the lack of routine and structure in my day. When we need to leave our house to go to work, school or appointments, it instills in us this idea that we have a place to be, therefore we need to do x,y,z before we leave or when we return. We are creatures of habit and routine, so when our normal day to day routine was abruptly thrown out the window because of the pandemic, it became difficult to jump into the new normal.
One of the ways that I dealt with this as a student was by time blocking. It is not a new phenomenon, but it honestly got me through my last semester. I did not realize how much I needed a sense of structure and routine to accomplish the tasks I needed to do. Time blocking also gave me a sense of control over the week or month ahead of me. This is why, I want to share with you all just a basic way you can time block your day to day living, and hopefully it will help you be more disciplined and productive.
*Please note that I am using google calendar, but any calendar will do! Even a piece of paper and a pen will work.
I first start by plugging in the basics of my week ahead. In the spirit of creating a routine, I even go so far as to plug in my designated lunch break, what time I want to get up and any classes or appointments I might have this week. Start your time blocking by adding in things that you consider essential is a fundamental way to encourage you to incorporate habits you want to develop. For example, you could also include time for a workout, calling a loved one or a friend, meditation, journaling, etc. It’s important to understand that by plugging in your non-negotiables, you are acknowledging that they are important, but you are also prioritizing them in your everyday life.
2) Add in your Priorities
At the beginning of each week, I find it helpful to write out a list of priorities. This establishes what needs to get done first and is more important. Take a few moments to jot down what needs to get accomplished this week, and then add in the tasks in decreasing order of importance. Now that you understand what is important you can begin carving out time in your week to work on these tasks.
3) Add in Breaks/Chill Time
Life gets chaotic and hectic—that much is inevitable, but you must allow yourself the time to relax and do things that you like. As you can see down below, I have included time to work on my blog and even dedicated a portion of my morning to just chilling and relaxing. Not everyone can do that, and most weeks I can’t either, but on days when I can’t, I try to schedule a break, which can be seen in yellow. This is what the finished schedule looks like:
4) Add some colour
When it comes to good old pen and paper, I usually tend to stick with black or blue ink. But when looking at a screen, I need as much colour as possible to fully understand where I am spending most of my time and energy. Not only is this aesthetically pleasing for the eye, but it’s also useful when you get to the end of your week. At the end of the week, analyze the colours used and the tasks you did. Did you spend a lot of time doing one type of thing? Did you include enough breaks? Does your schedule need to be more flexible or perhaps more disciplined? Colour coding allows you to see where you might be spending too much time and how you could deal with that.
I hope those tips helped you, and I hope you consider trying time blocking! Sometimes doing a full week can be intimidating try mapping out one day at a time and see how it affects your life.
If you have any other tips to share about time blocking, make sure to leave them in the comments down below!