Planning and organisation have never scared me. I’ve successfully slayed that beast time and time again.

BC—Before Child, that is—I was an absolute master at getting things done.

Heck, at one stage in 2015 I was attending TAFE full time, finishing my final subject at university, working part-time/casual, and finalising our wedding plans.

Of course I knew how drastically life would change when I became a mum, but I didn’t realise just how much I would be relying on five or 10 minute pockets of time here and there, or how much I needed a tablet.

Our daughter would only sleep if I was, at a minimum, right beside her from about 12 weeks of age through to about 18 months of age.

During these trying times (for me, and maybe they are/were for you too; I don’t like to sugarcoat these things) I realised I needed to up the ante. I needed to apply new methods and practices to get things done. That’s when I rediscovered time blocking. And yes, that’s not a typo. I rediscovered time blocking.

What is time blocking?

Simply put, time blocking is a time management tool to help you stay focussed with the task/s of the day.

Rather than working off a daily to do list, time blocking involves you assigning time to specific tasks when you are most productive.

For example, my work day begins at 9:30am and finishes at 3pm, plus 30-45 minutes for lunch. Using time blocking allows me to reach my peak productivity and (mostly) avoid distractions.

Disclosure: I am human and sometimes I get distracted.

As an entrepreneur, a mum, and a wife, working from home can be distracting. Having physical reminders of my time blocking in place helps keep me focussed greatly.

When I started this business, and originally wrote this post, I had two full days a week,—Tuesday and Wednesday—of child-free time, so time blocking was even more important to me to get things done than it is now.

It’s now 2022, and our daughter started school full time. While things are a little more flexible, I’m still limited in how many hours I can work each day. And, now that she is completely settled in, I’m in the middle of redoing my Ideal Work Schedule, ready for the beginning of Term 2.

My Ideal Work Schedule helps to structure my time blocking, and appointment setting. Once I’ve finished putting all the pieces together, I’ll laminate a copy of my Ideal Work Schedule and have it visible so I can remind myself of when I need to do things.

It incorporates our full family schedule as well as my dedicated work hours. My work time is indicated by my brand colours, and the remainder of the scheduled time is white.

Each hour of the day is accounted for. While some people see it as restrictive, I see it as proactive, flexible, and freeing. It allows me to focus on what really needs to be done to move my business forward, to help me achieve my long-term goals.

How to use time blocking in your day

Before we get down to it, first you need to jot down all the things you do in your day for your business, and in your daily life.
Include things like groceries and errands, family activities, your ‘me’ time, content creation, product development, client meetings, travel (if you have set travel times).
Try to account for everything so you can have as accurate a picture as possible of how your time is spent.

Hot Tip: Don’t forget things that happen occasionally, like your once a month or once a fortnight tasks.

Okay, take a look at your business task list.

Can you see anything that might be holding you back, or perhaps takes up more time than it should?
What about looking at the other side of the coin, the tasks that really move you and your business forward, the tasks that need to be done?

Once you’ve got your list sorted, it’s time to start working on allocating the tasks to your Ideal Work Schedule.


Allocating tasks for maximum capacity

To get the most out of time blocking, it’s a great idea to identify your maximum and minimum capacity times i.e. when you’re most and least ‘productive’ throughout the day.

Myself, I’m productive throughout most of the day as long as I have a clear outline of what is expected of me.

The exception is around lunch time or early afternoon. My shoulders are slumping, my neck is stiff, and I’m usually starting to get hungry. That’s when it’s time for food and Netflix. I generally take between 30 minutes to one hour, depending on how I’m feeling and how much work is currently on my desk.

The beauty of time blocking is that you can schedule in time for self care. Lunch breaks are a vital self care activity.

Hot Tip: Whatever you do, don’t skip lunch breaks!

When you’ve identified your maximum capacity time/s of day, put your hard-basket tasks in that zone.
Give yourself a head start into achieving and knocking that hard-basket task right off of its perch.
You’re not going to want to tackle that yucky task when you’re feeling flat or distracted.
Instead, what I suggest is to allocate yourself one hour—to begin, this is a new practice for you, you can make it longer when you’re comfortable with time blocking—to tackle that hard-basket task. Whether you use a physical time schedule, or a digital/electronic one, honour that time as though it was an appointment you’d be attending somewhere else.

Now that the hard-basket stuff is in your maximum capacity zone, pop your easier tasks in your minimum capacity zones.
These are the tasks you can bump off your list quickly and with ease.
Maybe they’re even fun tasks that you can use as a reward for doing the hard-basket tasks!

How I use time blocking

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t see time blocking as rigid.
Instead, I see it as an indicator of how long tasks should take, and how to help structure my day.

And, before I go on further, I’m going to say this right now:

I don’t always get it right.

Sometimes things take me much longer than they should.
Sometimes the task is a breeze.
Sometimes I change what it is that I want to do (hey there, hyperfocus!).

Bringing it back to how to use time blocking, depending on when you are at your most productive during the day will depend on when you slot things in.

Personally, I do my hard-basket tasks, or the ones that really need my absolute focus, in the morning.

This means client work is done early in the day.
I reward myself with ‘fun’ tasks (like content creation or design or social media engagement) for the afternoon when I don’t need a whole lot of focus.



Knowing what works for you – and what doesn’t

That chart above is my new Ideal Work Week. Just this week, actually as I was writing this blog post, I revamped and rejigged my priorities and weekly tasks. I’d been in a bit of a slump, I haven’t been as productive as I could be. And I’m human so that is totally okay. You might think it’s a bit rich, me saying that I have been in a slump and being unproductive, writing a blog post about how to be productive. Here’s the thing: Realising this weakness is a great thing. It means I was able to identify things needed a shake up, that my confidence and ideas needed a boost. I needed a reminder that there is room for growth and moving forward.

Recognising that I needed to shift my mindset – because yes, that’s exactly what this is, it’s a mindset shift –  allows me to find clarity and direction. It allows me to create more content for you. It also reminds me how valuable time blocking is as a business – and life – practice.

Knowing that time blocking is how I work best gives me the flexibility to work productively. Another moment of truth: I didn’t start with one hour of time blocking. I dived into the deep end headfirst. But I knew I’d be okay because I thrive in a highly planned and organised environment.

Sometimes, if my day goes astray, I take some of my chill out time in the evening and do non-urgent tasks like my Makers Academy work or my Social Method Society work. I’m totally okay with that because I’m still doing something for me. I’m moving forward in my business.

Do you have little ones at home? How do you get it all done? Do you think you’d like to give time blocking a go? Let’s help each other out – let me know in the comments.