If you’ve ever thought “there’s just not enough time in a day,” or “I just don’t have time for XYZ,” then this post is for you! If there’s one thing I’m passionate about, it’s getting things done. That and Jesus makes this girl a happy camper. 😉 Actually, I think my productivity levels are probably one of the few things I can say may “set me apart,” in that I *know* how to get things done. I know how to optimize my time, maximize my efficiency, and get six hours worth of work done in two. While I’ve been sharing similar sentiments/tips here since literally 2016 (I checked + linked some of those OG posts down below!), I think it always helps to have a friendly reminder – and ain’t nobody got time to scroll back through six years’ worth of archives when we’re in the business of working smarter, not harder. 😉 So much of personal time management is about taking responsibility, keeping accountable, and getting REALLY honest about how you’re *actually* using your time, so that you can eliminate inefficients, break bad habits, and learn to fill your days intentionally with what matters to you most – whether that means more time to pursue a passion project or start a side hustle, more time with your kids or friendships, or simply more time for R&R (which is very, very important 🙂 ). From time blocking to task batching and even just better boundary setting, the past few years have been a continual personal process of editing and tweaking my own personal time management process to create an intentional system that works.
But through each shift and season, these five things have rung true repeatedly.
Meaning, creating chunks or “blocks” of time dedicated to specific categories or individual tasks on your list. This might mean having actual times outlined (10-12 pm, 1-4 pm, etc), or it might be a more general “morning block.” Every Sunday evening or Monday morning I spend maybe 20 minutes time blocking out the week ahead, and then I edit my time blocks at the start of each day to make sure they accurately reflect what’s happening. Not only does it help keep me focused and getting more done, but it *also* has greatly helped with keeping my priorities on track. I know that certain time blocks are devoted to certain things, so it makes it near impossible to switch things up; for example, we’ve been doing evening workouts as a family in our garage gym, so that block feels devoted to family time, workout time, and dinner – not much else. Color coding your time blocking can also help, which I sometimes do – pick different colors for work versus home versus personal care tasks so that you can immediately recognize what’s up when. I’m also someone who lives by a paper calendar, but you can easily color code on GCal or any other digital time management system while ALSO visually seeing blocks on your calendar, so you can stay organized this way and also see what colors/blocks get the most of your time.
I like to keep my time blocks more generally categorized, and then outline individual tasks and batch them within that. Speaking of task batching…
Task batching means grouping like tasks together for completion in the same period of time (or time block!), to reaaaaally optimize your efficiency. The best example here is maybe one we can all deeply understand firsthand: doing the dishes. Chances are, you wait until the dishwasher is full enough to run, or until you’ve got a few dishes piled in the sink before stopping to clean everything up – you don’t individually wash, dry, then put away one dish before moving on to the next. You wash everything, then dry everything, then put away everything. Same goes for laundry day – what a massive waste of time it would be if we individually washed an item, dried it, then folded it and put it away before moving on to pair of pants number two – like…no. It would be IMPOSSIBLE and literally consume the entire day! Ain’t nobody got time!!!
So, apply this concept to EVERYTHING YOU CAN. In work I try to stay in the same brain space during each time block to avoid context switching – which is a concept that refers to the steady decrease in our brain power and mental/emotional/physical resources each time we spot one task to switch to another. Our brain has to stop focus and RE-focus on something else, which in and of itself lowers the level that we were functioning at previously. You’ll have MORE energy to get MORE done by staying in the same brain space doing the same (or similar) task as long as possible before switching to something else, so overall, you’ll get more done. Handle a chunk of emails at once instead of refreshing your inbox and answering one email every 15 minutes. Make multiple phone calls in the same block instead of shooting them off randomly throughout the morning. Your head space AND schedule will thank you.
CERTAIN DAYS FOR CERTAIN THINGS
This goes hand in hand with task batching for me. I try to bask shooting days so that I can give my skin a break and go makeup-free whenever I’m NOT scheduled to be filming reels or shooting blog content, so certain days are “shoot days.” Especially since I primarily shoot with my mom (bless her), we have to coordinate schedules and batch shoots, sometimes shooting as many as 5 or even 6 campaigns or projects in one day together. Alternatively, Fridays are our “off” days. J is at home, so we save house work or projects for that day and tag team them together. Friday is laundry day – it’s also Target run day, grocery day, etc. Instead of wasting pockets of time on random errands throughout the week, anything that can be saved until Friday waits until then and happens all at once while we’re out.
There’s this crazy phenomenon called Parkinson’s Law, which states that tasks fill whatever time they’re allotted. Got a free day? Awesome. That one task that *could* take one hour tops somehow just managed to be a full day fiasco. It’s WILD…because it’s true!!! Ever notice how much MORE you seem to get done when you’re operating on a really short timeframe?? Got an hour before you have to pick up a kid? Watch you prep dinner and switch laundry loads and send three emails AND grab a snack. Nowhere to be all day? …watch you get the same amount done.
I prefer having a maxed out calendar on a given day if I’m trying to be *most productive* because I know I’ll be “on it” and I won’t get distracted as easily between activities. Sometimes I’ll intentionally schedule a call or podcast recording on an otherwise “free” day so that I’ve got a built-in time block to work around, because I know I’ll get more done overall with it there! If anything, try time blocking with tighter blocks if you need shorter spans of time to keep your attention locked and focused.
Speaking of distractions, working against the clock is one of the best ways I’ve found to stay ON topic and ON track. The Pomodoro technique can be great for this; with it, you work for 25 minute intervals before taking a 5 minute break (and just repeat as long as needed). You’ve got a little “reward” coming and a timer ticking until then, so it definitely keeps you focused! Alternatively, I like my little cube timer from Amazon to set 15, 30, or 60 minute intervals; I’ve found setting my phone timer only works if I’m disciplined enough to not pick up my phone every 32 seconds to check the timer…or Instagram…or texts…or TikTok…and I prefer just having my phone in another room entirely if I’m trying to be most productive and get isht done. 🙂
Set BOUNDARIES!!!! (+ keep them!)
This. THIS. All the time blocking and task batching in the world won’t help you if every single iPhone ping can interrupt your flow. Boundaries may just be one of the biggest keys to time management success – and also relationships and life in general?? It’s one of the *biggest* things my therapist helped me figure out, and it’s just A KEY. If you don’t hold boundaries around your time, anything + everything else WILL find a way to get on your schedule – at the expense of what you might’ve (or should’ve) had there instead.
Having time blocks or working with a timer can really help here, so long as you don’t let shiny objects (namely, notifications) vy for your attention.
Have you tried time blocking, task batching, or any other favorite time management tips before?
Have any yourself that work especially well to stay on track and get more done?
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