I’m always looking for ways to get more done, which is not an easy feat, but I have found time blocking to significantly help with productivity. As the name suggests, time blocking involves setting up certain blocks of time to focus only on specific tasks. Designed to help with deep work and concentration, time blocking is also a great way to plan out the day and encourage more balance. This can be easier said than done with children at home, but it still has practical applications for working and stay-at-home moms alike.
With summer quickly approaching, schedules will be changing, which means my approach to time blocking will need to change too. I thought this may be a good time to revisit this topic.
There are many detailed resources available for anyone who wants more information about time blocking. I am certainly not an expert, but I have found these tips helpful, especially during the summer.
- If you have never tried time blocking, start by writing down what you are already doing. This was eye-opening for me when I realized all the small pockets of time I was wasting when I could have been doing something productive.
- Set blocks of time but keep it flexible. It can be frustrating to have this amazing schedule planned only to be constantly interrupted. We can only plan so much, but I try to keep in mind the times I am most likely to have quiet time to get the work done that requires the most concentration.
- Start with the parts of the schedule that are the most consistent. During the school year, I set my time blocks around the kids’ existing schedules. I start my first block right after I put one child on the bus, plan another block around the second child leaving for school, set another block around the toddler’s nap schedule, another one around after school activities, etc. For the summer, I will start with practices or activities the kids have, the toddler’s nap/eating schedule, and any family activities I know we will be doing. Put those items on the schedule first and plan around them.
*I know my best chance to get work done is early in the morning while the rest of the house is still quiet. This is even more true in the summer. I have found the more I get done first thing in the day, the more I get done. Period. (Example: I was working on this post while my children were still asleep.)
- Make a list of everything you need to get done and prioritize accordingly. This doesn’t just apply to work tasks, but to general tasks that need to be completed.
- Build in fun! Yes. You could be productive all day, but everyone needs some time to relax, especially in the summer. Don’t forget to add blocks for fun activities you want to do. At the beginning of the summer, I have each child make a summer bucket list (within reason). We add an item from each child’s list to our weekly plans so we can balance work with fun.
- Involve children in the work that needs to be done. During my work blocks, my children can also work on age-appropriate tasks around the house. They don’t love it, but if they know we are working now so we can have fun later, it really helps them focus on their own list.
*I recommend setting up a list of chores written down for each child ahead of time to avoid wasting valuable “work time” telling them what they need to be doing. This is also a good time to enforce a morning, afternoon, and evening routine to provide some structure during summer months.
- Give children ownership. In addition to the bucket list, I also involve the kids in planning and let them have some input into what we will focus on that day. If they help influence the list, they are more likely to put in their work during the work blocks.
- Don’t make it too rigid. This can’t be overstated. A time block or any routine that’s too rigid will only lead to frustration. It’s much easier to stick to a routine that allows for some flexibility.
- Make it your own. Use trial and error. Everyone’s priorities, responsibilities, commitments, needs, and stages of life are different and will affect time blocking. Don’t be afraid to change something that isn’t working. Oh, and once you get it perfected, something in your life will change.