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Sometimes I lose track of time. Sometimes I frivolously mismanage my time. And I always wish I simply had more time in a day.
Calendar blocking solves all those problems and more.
In this post you’ll find an in-depth “get started” guide to calendar blocking. Plus plenty of tips and hints helping you to get your life organized and stay organized!
CALENDAR BLOCKING 101
So what is Calendar Blocking, exactly? Is it just adding stuff to my calendar so I remember to do things, because I already do that…
Yes, remembering one-off events is a part of calendar blocking, but it is far from the most important aspect. Nor is it the revolutionary part.
The main principle behind calendar blocking is to visualize your entire day as one big chunk of time. You’ll partition it as necessary to reach your life goals. It helps you see exactly where your time is being spent so you can adjust accordingly. There is no excuse for time-wasting when all of your time is accounted for!
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
CUSTOMIZING YOUR GOOGLE CALENDARS
HAVE SEPARATE CALENDARS FOR DIFFERENT OBLIGATIONS
Below is my actual calendar from this past week. It looks intense, but having my calendar looking like this actually makes me feel less overwhelmed. Notice how on the left side of the screen, I have a handful of different calendars. I customized my calendars so I have all parts of my life covered. The different colors really help differentiate everything. That’s important when the events are placed back to back to back!
PRO TIP: In addition to my own calendars, I also have one dedicated to my partner. He doesn’t use Google Calendar, so I use it on my own to keep track of stuff he has to do. But if he did use Google Calendar, we could actually share that calendar between us so we can both always see what’s happening with “family” stuff.
SET UP NOTIFICATION SETTINGS INDIVIDUALLY
It’s tempting to apply one notification setting to all your calendars, but resist the urge! I find that I am much less likely to ignore notifications when I know everything I have allowed to come through is important.
For example, I use my red “Events” calendar for special or non-recurring events that require leaving my house and often involve other people. I classify these as cannot miss events. Likewise, I set notifications for this calendar to remind me one day before, and 30 minutes before the event time. I also do the same for “Birthdays” and “Workout.”
My “Remember” calendar is my place to add in small tasks that I need to remember just for myself. Such as paying bills by the due dates and taking out the trash on pickup day. I set notifications to alert 20 minutes prior because most of these tasks are time sensitive.
Finally, “Editorial,” “Tasks/Work,” “Personal” calendars have no notifications at all. Tasks in these categories are routine parts of my day, and therefore I don’t need reminding.
STRUCTURING YOUR DAY
SET YOUR WAKE UP TIME AND BEDTIME AS EVENTS
This may feel a bit ridiculous, but bear with me. Whatever time you currently wake up, (or want to wake up, but be reasonable,) add that into your “Personal” calendar. Then, add your bedtime. You’ve just created the frame of your day. The time is your oyster!
PREPARE TO ENTER *EVERYTHING* (yes, even mundanities)
The first four events each (work) day are the same. Wake Up, Text w/ Mom, Dressing, and Coffee + Planning. This two-hour block is my personal time every morning for my feel-good morning routine. Because seriously, how awesome is it to get to talk stories (Hawaii slang coming out!) with my mom every day? After that, I have dedicated time for dressing and beauty routines, drinking my coffee, planning and journaling before I start my day.
BUILD YOUR DAILY ROUTINE
Build your ideal day by dedicating time for all the things you want to do every day. This way, important parts of your life are less often pushed to the back burner.
I already talked about my morning routine, but it doesn’t stop there. Later in the day, I set aside time for personal care, and later a half hour just for reading. Having my daily fixtures pre-planned helps keep the “flexible” aspects of my day from spiraling out of control. They can be flexible, but only to the extent that they don’t disturb my carefully curated regular routine.
RECURRING EVENTS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
For one thing, ain’t nobody got time to add all of those little events individually. Try to do that, and it’s a surefire way to ensure you’ll quit within a week.
Recurring events ensure that your non-negotiables are pre-planned long before the day arrives. When you see a parts of your day already filled, you will naturally fill additional events around what is already there. Instead of allowing yourself to go routine-less, filling your schedule willy-nilly, you will know what times you have available each day. You’ll prevent over scheduling yourself, and improve your ability to say “no” to people and things that don’t work for you, citing your already planned schedule.
BLOCK TIME FOR UNDESIRABLES
There are things that are good for us that we don’t necessarily like. I’ll just come right out and say it: I don’t enjoy exercising. I do it because I know it is a healthy habit that I will be glad that I adopted early in life. If I didn’t set a specific hour of each day that I would exercise, heaven knows my workout wear would morph into lounge wear. Set specific times for things you don’t really want to do, and then do them because Google Calendar will scold you if you don’t. But seriously, if it’s on the calendar, you’ll probably want to avoid the dreaded unproductive down of missing a planned appointment.
SCHEDULE PRODUCTIVE TIME & BE SPECIFIC
If you work freelance, this one is for you, especially. Flexibility is more of a hindrance than a help when not used mindfully. In my Google Calendar, my work time is planned in fuchsia blocks. I fill these blocks manually on a weekly basis. Work is important, but it is not the same level of importance as a healthy routine. Amend work time as necessary.
I try to be somewhat specific when I add titles to each box. Instead of simply saying “work,” I try to at least approximate what I will be doing in that timeframe. This way, they don’t start to blend together in my mind and become irrelevant. I oftentimes will change the titles on the morning-of, to make it more specific. I feel like I have a clear plan for the day.
SET ASIDE TIME FOR SELF CARE
I allude to this several times above, but make sure you schedule time for self care! In out busy lives, self care is often the first thing to go when we feel short on time. But the loss of self care is totally avoidable.
WHY IT WORKS
When I went freelance, I told myself that I relished in the un-structured-ness of my days. Hey, I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted! Not so fast. I quickly learned that if I didn’t carve out time to accomplish goals and set deadlines for myself, business (and life) stood as still as a dog caught stealing pizza off the coffee table.
We NEED structure. Being able to visualize all of your waking hours help you see that you *actually do* have time to do things.
When we have “spare time,” we tend to spend it scrolling through social media or puttering around the house doing a lot of nothing. Instead of allowing yourself time with nothing to do, plan something! If you have no work to do, perhaps schedule time to take an online class or pencil in an evening of puzzle-building. Bonus: it will be much easier to find balance between work time and personal time when you have everything pre-planned, I promise.
That’s all for today!
Like this post? Check our this one too >> How I Plan My Life || best planning apps + journaling tips! (How To Plan Your Life)
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Till next time ♥︎
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Since you use Google Calendar, like I do, and I noticed you have a Reminder calendar, I wanted to point out that Google actually has a Reminders feature which will integrate with your Google Calendar. Personally I use it for things like Bills, so I can remember when bills are hitting my checking account, and things like Paying the rent since we all know some hectic weeks that can get forgotten lol things like that that aren’t really “events” that I need to block out, but things I need to keep in mind and tend to. Thanks for the great article!