We all have a million things to do, and not enough time to get it all done.
But feeling scattered, flustered, and generally overwhelmed can be one of the worst feelings, especially when we feel like we’re doing everything right and really want to focus on the “the right” things to take our blog biz to the next level. Having a to-do list that crushes you – instead of you crushing it – is just not going to work. We want to keep our momentum going!
A while back I wrote this post where I shared the time blocking template I use to organize my week and get things done.
Hands-down, this is my most popular post to date! So if you feel like you’re juggling too many things and have no idea which to tackle first, you’re not alone, sister.
Today, I’m sharing a handful of things that will help you get the most benefit from the time blocking template (which you can download here), so that everything gets done in a way that makes you feel calm, centered and in control of your week.
Now this is easier said than done, I know! But there’s a way to make sure you stay on track, and that has a lot to do with how you manage time blocking, which I’m going to walk you through right now.
[ SETTING GOALS AND TASKS ]
First things first, we need to set some goals so we know what to focus on:
1) Create a high-level plan
Before we start time blocking, it’s important to have high-level goals and milestones in mind for what you want to achieve. If you’ve followed my last post, you already have or are working on your 12-month plan (at a minimum, your 3-month plan). This will make is so much easier to plan your week, because you will know where you’re at in your business and specific focus areas to tackle each month!
When you’re creating goals and milestones, you don’t have to get super specific. Really what you’re going for is a bird’s eye view of your business, where you’re at, and things you should be focusing on.
2) Make a list of tasks
Next up, break each month down into weekly tasks so you can start achieving your big vision goals!
Yep. I’m sayin’ it again because really want you to get this. Make sure you set tasks for each of the 4 buckets from our Blog Profit Plan (content, traffic, subscribers, profit).
Beyond that, the most important step here, and what you can’t forget to do, is to prioritize your tasks. Some things on your list will be high priority and others not so much. Your high priority tasks are the ones you MUST do, no excuses! That means when other things come up you postpone them or put them aside so you can address the things you absolutely have to get done.
I know, so much easier to say than to do! This is one of those things that will make a world of difference if you can stick to it.
Essentially, what you’re going to do is to start looking at your tasks like this:
- Must-do: will take over 2 hours
- Must-do: 1-2 hours
- Must-do: 15-30 minutes
- Nice-to-do: over 2 hours
- Nice-to-do: 1-2 hours
- Nice-to-do: 15-30 minutes
If you want, you can use colored post-its to help you visually see must-do tasks vs nice-to-do tasks.
Let me clarify one thing that will help you get the most benefit from time blocking:
Nice-to-do tasks are just that: it would be nice if you could get to them. That means it would be a major perk if, once you complete your must-do’s, you have extra time to crush these too. If you don’t get to them, no sweat, you’ll simply roll them over to the next week (and I’m going to show you how to do this next!).
Nice-to-do tasks get scheduled first, and then nice-to-do’s get put on the calendar after that. With me?
3) Start time blocking
Nothing makes you feel more defeated than when you have tons of stuff to do and at the end of each day you haven’t even gotten to them. No more of that noise with time blocking, k? We’re going to be able to see how much we can really get done sow we can start feeling amazing instead of defeated!
How do we do it?
This is where we turn all of our “over 2 hours”, “1-2 hours” tasks into individual time blocks. Plus, we’re going to get very specific with what we plan to do each day, right down to each 15-minute break, k?
It’s important to include business and personal tasks in your time blocks. You want errrrthang in there. What that looks like is if your daughter’s play date is on Wednesday at 3pm, you block out time for it. Dropping shirts off on Tuesday? Block it out, baby!
You’d be amazed at how quickly managing your schedule like this will help you get more done.
If you want to use my time-block template so you can get started, feel free to download it below:
I want you to be super successful with time blocking, so the next steps are about working the template to get the most benefit from it. I’m saving you tons of trial and error here, with all the juicy new habits I’ve developed just by using this killer tool!
Ready for it? Let’s work it!
[ HOW TO WORK THE TIME BLOCK TEMPLATE ]
4) Schedule must-do’s when you’re most productive
This is one those things that’s a biggie, but doesn’t seem like it. Match your must-do tasks to your most productive hours. Are you a night owl? Or, maybe you like to get a head start before the world wakes up in the morning. what I’m trying to say is block out those times for your most important work. For instance, If you’re the most “on” in the morning, that’s when you want to write your content, NOT when you want to be commenting on Instagram or checking your email!
5) Schedule tasks at the same time each day
Maybe in the morning you write content, mid-day you take a lunch break, in the afternoon you have some errands, client projects, meetings, appointments, etc. It really helps to do those types of recurring tasks at the same time every day so you can get into a routine with them.
For instance, I check in on social media in the early morning and then later in the evening, when I’m catching up on Hulu. I also use the mornings to coordinate with my team. The rest of the day is creating content and working on client projects. I also try to eat breakfast and lunch at the same time each day. I highly recommend approaching everything on your schedule like this, even those things that involve other people that you can’t get out of. Try to schedule them around the same time each day.
6) Include everything that might pop up
This is jumping off from the previous step. I’ve found that one of the biggest things that derails my schedule is all of those things that I really need to do, but didn’t think of. Like running to the bank. Like working out. Like going to pick up a prescription. Like running to Home Depot. Like… Like… Like…
All of these things should go on your list. Now they may not be must-do’s, so you’d want to work them around your priority tasks. But if you need to do them, make sure you include them. Otherwise you’ll think you can write that entire blog post today, but whoops! You can’t actually. Then that bleeds into the next day, and so on.
Once you start getting off track like this, it’s easy to feel defeated. A better way is to include everything you can think of so you set yourself up for success.
7) Focus on one task at a time
Whatever you do, stop multi-tasking. Like right now! There’s no way you can email a client, jump out to Facebook, create an Instagram image, schedule your social media, write a post at the same time. So stop thinking that you can!
The solve here is to focus on that one thing you have to do right now. You’ve already blocked out time for it, made it a priority, and identified what you need to do first. Now you have to stay with it and get it done. Don’t start the next task until that one thing is done.
Even if it means that you don’t get to that second thing for 2-3 weeks, that’s the way it goes! You’re going to feel so much more accomplished this way, because you won’t have a dozen big projects up in the air, not getting done.
8) Give yourself enough time to complete tasks
Sometimes there’s a gap between what you think you can do and what you can actually do. Kinda like ordering mussels, rock shrimp and crab cakes when all you can eat are the mussels.
The reason for the gap is because some “over 2 hours” tasks are more like 8-hour projects. Heck, you may not even finish them in a day! That’s the kind of gap that can mess up more than just your schedule.
It sets off a domino effect where you feel like you’re falling behind, even when you’re actually rockin’ your to-do list. And that feeling all started from under-estimating how long a task would take.
The best way to avoid this is to be as accurate and realistic as you possibly can. Give yourself enough time to do the task, and even then, give yourself some wiggle room. If you think a task will take 3 hours, double up and set aside 6 hours for it (I find this is usually more accurate).
Whatever you do, don’t trick yourself into thinking you can get an 8-hour task done in 3. I speak from major experience with this one! I used to block out way just a few hours to write my posts, simply because I wanted to be able to write them in under 3 hours. But it never happens! Like EVER. And I’ve tried so many times. Ugh.
Anyway, the point here is that by “wishing” my posts to take 3 hours, I’d plan the afternoon to get even more stuff done. In actuality, writing a blog post plus creating images is a full-day event for me, and I’ve learned to be realistic and block out the time I need. You will want to do the same thing with your time blocks.
9) Turn off your cell phone and email
Like the plague! It’s easy to allow yourself to get distracted. I actually find myself looking for distractions. I check my junk mail, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, anything I can get my hands on. I remember there’s that eggplant lasagna recipe I wanted to try. Whoops! Forgot to text my friend, Laura. Must do that too…
We’re all victims of shiny object syndrome. When something seems too far, too large, too hard, too unknown, we start reaching for busy things so we can feel productive.
But being busy isn’t the same thing as being productive.
One of the biggest things that helps me stay focused is turning off my email, cell phone and even social media during my most productive hours.
HOLD UP. Shut them down?
Yep. Log out. Turn them off.
Wait until the end of the day, mid-day, or whatever you choose to turn them back on. Point is to avoid temptations and distractions so you can focus on what’s in front of you so you can get it done. Your texts and emails will be there later. Promise 🙂
10) Review and reschedule
There are definitely, most absolutely, going to be tasks you can’t get to. Plan for it. Know it. Whatever you do, don’t get flustered by it! In fact, you should expect it. That’s why we’re throwing a time blocking party! Woop woop!
At the end of each day, review what you were able to get done and reschedule anything that didn’t get done. This way you’ll wake up fresh the next day, knowing where you left off and ready to tackle the new items.
Psst…Make sure you create include reviewing your schedule in the time blocking template. It usually takes me about 15 minutes (at the end of the day) to review what I did/didn’t get to and shuffle things around for the next day.
11) Train your friends + family
You have a set schedule, but let’s be real, you’re a one-person team and only you know that you need to get something done. So you’re answering to yourself here.
Your friends and family may not think the time spent on your blog biz is valuable (yet!). Or, maybe they think that because you work from home you have the flexibility to do, say, whatever…run to the dry cleaners, Home Depot, grocery store…you name it.
This is especially true when your biz is new and you’ve yet to earn money from it.
Here’s where you have to play 2 roles:
Role one: Employer
Role two: Employee
As the employer, you know the items on your list MUST get done. Then there’s the employee (hey there, that’s you too!). You’re also the person who has to get it all done. My point here is that you have a goal you want to achieve, and let’s be brutally honest, it’s only going to happen if you make it happen.
I recommend getting into a habit of saying “no” to random asks that interrupt your schedule. Now I know from personal experience that you’re going to get push back on this one! If you hang in there with me, sooner or later the asks will stop coming and this step will be a whole lot easier. Pinky swear.
12) Organize your workflow
This is a biggie, much bigger than I thought initially.
Where do you keep all the ideas that pop up throughout the day? Do you use Evernote? How do you manage projects/team/tasks? With Trello or Asana?
What about your files? Do you use Dropbox, and if so, how well organized is everything? I highly recommend getting all of these things organized, even down to how you organize your folders, so that they’re the same everywhere. When I look at a huge list of random files, I get flustered in about a second. But when they’re neatly in folders that I recognize and can understand, it’s a whole different ball game.
Developing a standard workflow and project management system will help you knock off items on your to-do list quickly.
If you want, you can download the time blocking template I created to help you crush your to-do list and feel pumped about everything you’re accomplishing. Click the image below to download: