TOOLS, RESOURCES, AND CONTENT
TO HELP YOU DO YOUR WORK
AND LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR CALENDAR AND YOUR LIFE
Welcome! I am so excited you decided to show up for a quick read today. Last week we chatted about why goals were better than resolutions and how to set goals you could achieve. It starts with getting clear on who and where you are and understanding who you want to be and where you want to go. Then you can call out what is standing in your way in order to create a road map to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Today, we are adding another layer designed to help you manage whatever life throws your way. We are diving into time management and time blocking, and I think you will find some tactical advice for tackling the limited resource of time. After all, like the quote from Vaclav Havel taped to my computer says, “Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It’s not enough to stare up the stairs; we must step up the stairs.”
TO-DO LISTS AND TIME
Reality check: We all have 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. We can’t change that; it simply is. I think we feel this way because we are longing to make progress in ways that feel significant, but most days we just feel tired and a bit beat up. For those who have a task list the size of Alaska, there aren’t enough hours in a day to tick off every task, and some days the to-do list seems to get longer, not shorter, which is super frustrating! This cycle leaves us tired because we focus on the urgent instead of the important. We don’t spend time doing tasks that fill our souls because we are so busy adulting. This isn’t living. Seriously, if you get to the end of each day railing at yourself for all you didn’t do, how can you expect to experience joy in your day-to-day life?
TOO MUCH TO DO, TOO LITTLE TIME
Tell me if this sounds familiar? You are in the middle of doing something, say putting away your laundry, when you remember you need to make a note to handle something on your phone. You walk to another room to grab your phone, and 45 minutes later, you see the time and realize despite being on your phone all this time, you didn’t add the thing to the phone. You may have even forgotten what it was you needed to add to your phone in the first place.
Time…when left to its own devices ticks away to nothingness. I’ve heard financial experts say that if you don’t tell your money where to go, it just vanishes with no memory of how it disappeared. Time seems to vanish just as easily. If you don’t want your time to evaporate before your eyes, you must be intentional with it.
So many of the women I have worked with, women I am in masterminds with, and my friends have all expressed feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. It is so disheartening to live in this perpetual state of exhaustion because it becomes a breeding ground for feeling like who we are and what we bring to the table isn’t enough. And that is a big fat lie. Full confession, I used to be a poster child for over-scheduling each day. After realizing this wasn’t sustainable, I created a unique system to manage my time, tasks, and energy. And it is simple enough for anyone in any season to adapt to their own needs.
HERE’S THE PLAN
In the book Focus, the author says, “Hurry confuses the soul, alerting it to the fact that time is of the essence but providing no clarity about which way to run.” Joyce Meyer puts it another way saying, “panic makes you manic.” Bless, but aren’t both of these so true?!?! Hurry and panic don’t yield much fruit and often create more chaos.
It makes me think of that show Supermarket Sweep where the customers have to run through the store looking for specific items with limited time. It seems like utter chaos as they run around like chickens with their heads cut off. But if you knew you were going on the show, you knew the premise and the time constraints they would give and had a layout of the store showing where all the products were, you could preplan your course. You could study, memorize, and prepare a path to ensure your success. Perhaps you could stage some practice runs to ensure you map the fastest, most efficient plan. This would allow you to participate in an organized, methodical, and strategic way. Sure, they might spring some surprises on you, but you would be prepared to pivot as needed. Slowing your pace, harnessing that energy, and strategizing a plan increases your efficiency.
TIME SYSTEMS AND THOUGHTS
There are countless teachings on time management. You have probably heard about the Eisenhower Framework, David Allen’s Get Things Done, and the Pomodoro technique to name a few of the more popular ones. There are also a plethora of apps to help you manage your time. Trello, Notion, Monday, and Asana are some big names. Time management is important because it is a finite resource and should be cared for accordingly. Kind of like our environment, but that is another topic for another day.
As I covered in the last post and go into more depth in my course, we start by getting clear on our identity and purpose in order to set some goals. Once we set goals and have created a comprehensive master list of all the tasks required to achieve them, we estimate the time each task will take. I think it is one of the unique features of my course. The reality is most of us OVER-estimate the number of tasks we can do in a certain time frame, and we grossly UNDER-estimate the time each task takes. Tell me you know what I am talking about here? You make your to-do list and it is longer than the day is, but you are sure you can knock it out. When the hours run out before the tasks do, you beat up on yourself and condemn yourself when it was unreasonable from the gate. Why do we do this to ourselves?!?!
LIST AND EVALUATE YOUR TASKS
For now, let’s start this by grabbing a pen and paper or adding a note on our phone or computer. I want you to list every task you do from the time you get up until the time you go to bed. Now, you may find it helpful to track your tasks over a few days or even a week. We all spend so much of our day on auto-pilot we give no conscious thought to many of our habitual and routine tasks. Yes, for those of you asking if I am serious, I am. List every task. If you want things to be different in this next season, be willing to invest time trying something new and go with me here. I promise you will see transformation if you follow through.
Once you have that master list of daily tasks, I want you to ask yourself the following question for each of the items on the list:
Am I doing this because I can, I should, or I want to?
Take it seriously. This step is about building awareness into your day instead of floating through life. Be sure to answer honestly because we often fail to ask ourselves this question – especially for tasks we have done habitually for some time. Once you have a clear picture of the reason behind what you are doing, you can be intentional about what to carry forward. When you see all you do daily in one collective list it is much easier to tackle time management because you can create rhythms and routines to maximize your time and accomplish what matters most.
Next, we evaluate how long a task will take. Now double that to allow for the underestimation that is most likely still happening as well as any challenges that might pop up. You could even time track your activities for a few days and time each task. I have had clients realize they put more energy and time into procrastinating a task because they have blown how long it will take out of proportion.
Come back to me here. I get that in the beginning, this can seem like a lot of work, but if you spend the time on the front end investing in the course for achieving your goal, it feels less overwhelming and far more achievable as you walk it out. It will provide you with baby steps to move you consistently toward your goal.
Once you have your list and the times each task takes we are going to group like items together. You can do this in whatever way you want. I can use color-coding or create a labeling system. For example, all financial tasks might be color-coded in green or the category labeled errands might include all tasks done outside your home. Please, don’t over complicate this. Pick 3-5 broad categories to batch your repetitive and master task lists into. And remember nothing is permanent. You can change this at any time. This is simply a way to assign the repetitive daily tasks and your goal tasks a category we will use for time blocking.
SET YOUR IDEAL DAY AND WEEK
We have talked before about needing to know where we are aiming our arrow before we shoot. When it comes to managing your time the most effective way to do this is by visualizing what your ideal day and an ideal week would look like. Think about how would you like your day and your week to unfold if there were no limitations? Would you sleep until 9 AM or get up at 5 AM? Would you plan on a 2-hour bike ride mid-morning? and end your workday at 8 pm? Would you save Friday mornings for coffee dates with friends or Saturday morning for brunch with your bestie? Write out your pie-in-the-sky weekly schedule. Then break that down into an hour-by-hour breakdown. Depending on your season there may be some must-do things on there, so be sure to include them. Be sure NOT to get mired in what is true of this exact moment you prevent yourself from dreaming a new way forward.
Doing this exercise enables you to see how it might be best for your days to flow. Set up your daily schedule with what is while having a clear image of where you want to be. (Side note: This may be a time to have some conversations with your family, your business partner, your boss, or anyone else to who you are giving your time. We often assume we will get a “No” when we haven’t asked a question. Take the time to practice healthy conversations and healthy boundaries!) Now let’s knit it all together.
THE SCOOP ON TIME BLOCKING
Our next step is to set up our day accordingly using time blocking. My friend Wikipedia defines time blocking as “a productivity technique for personal time management where a period of time—typically a day or week—is divided into smaller segments or blocks for specific tasks or to-dos. It integrates the function of a calendar with that of a to-do list. It is a kind of scheduling.” In my opinion time blocking allows us to manage our energy and increase our productivity.
Keeping your ideal week and day in mind, look at your task categories and assign them to your current reality. Start by assigning blocks of time to your calendar based on the categories. This is where a planner or digital calendar or app is life-changing because you can set up a template and drop tasks in daily. And if you use digital tools, it is very easy to move tasks around when interruptions happen or things need to be shifted. Planning is very personal so pick what you will use…and again, don’t over complicate it! You want to create blocks of time for all your categories by day and by week.
MAPPING OUR DAYS AND WEEKS
After you create your time blocks you can begin mapping out your actual week. Capture all appointments or repetitive tasks. Trash day, grocery day, whatever…Put all the bits with a specific day assignment on your calendar. Depending on your season of life you can assign an overarching category to each day of the week. Monday maintenance, Tuesday tech, Wednesday household, etc. You know your responsibilities and what needs to happen in your life. Grouping like things onto the same day each week helps to establish a smooth and more efficient cadence in your life. When you have mapped out the must-dos on each day of the week, you move to the nitty-gritty of each day. To help get you started let me give you a little peek into my daily rhythm.
For me, the first two hours of each day are dedicated to my morning routine – getting ready for the day, making my bed, doing my morning pages, Bible study, etc. plus eating breakfast. My next block is for hard tasks – this is for any deep work that I need to do, things like tech tasks, client work, etc. I have to do these first or I will 100% procrastinate them. I have a small block around 1 PM for lunch and to do any personal tasks like laundry, dinner prep, etc. After this, I do a creative time block to handle any writing, scripting, social media, Canva work, etc. Toward the end of the workday, I have a block for admin tasks. Typically these are tasks I need to do but can be time sucks – so making calls, purging my inbox, etc. Once you develop a good habit of doing this, you can knock it out in 15-30 minutes a week depending on the tools you use. It is a small investment for the amazing return you will see when you slay your goals!
One little bonus nugget that I touched on in the last post is setting up your environment for success. I have a separate basket for my morning and evening personal care routines. Everything I need for my morning routine is gathered together and is kept where I do it. The night before as part of my daily reset I tidy my office, update my planner, check off my list, etc. I also pull my clothes for the next day. Again, this work on the front end sets you up for success and helps prevent decision fatigue which is alive and well in all our lives!
A RUNWAY FOR TRANSFORMATION
Real talk here: Planes do not take off the second they start their engines. They have to build momentum by heading down a runway slowly at first until they have enough speed and wind beneath their wings to take off. We have to stop thinking that just because the calendar flips to a new year that somehow January 1 will magically make us the person we need to be to accomplish the goals we have for ourselves. Every morning is a new opportunity to move down the runway toward your final destination. It is about building momentum and transforming your day-to-day choices into a runway that leads you to become the person you were created to be so you can live the life you deserve to live. We must stop thinking that just because we start a project or decide to do something new it will instantly be done. Hear this: ANY TRANSFORMATION REQUIRES A RUNWAY FOR BUILDING MOMENTUM. This is real life…not a filtered, edited, fast-forwarded production.
You don’t have to be controlled by your calendar or feel exhausted from the constant hustle. Staying where you are instead of moving where you want to be is a choice you make daily. By implementing these tools you can stop the desire to throw in the towel and take control of your time and calendar so you maximize your energy and achieve your dreams. You can’t have it all but you can choose what you most want to have and create the space and systems to have those things. And that is a life well-lived!
I am so excited to see how this strategic plan helps. If you dive into it, please snap a pic and tag me on social media so I can follow up with you to see how it is helping. And in case no one has told you today, you are loved and strong and capable of amazing things!
Until next time, remember, I am in it WITH you always,
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