As a busy stay at home mother, I have found that if you don’t approach the day with some kind of routine and a small to-do list then you will have more off days than on days.
Often you end up having things pile up and overwhelm you.
Before I started block scheduling, I was feeling overwhelmed and constantly setting goals that I couldn’t consistently find enough time in the day to work towards.
So I felt aimless and frustrated as the weeks and months crept by and I felt like had achieved nothing at all.
Of course, motherhood can feel this way, the on and on of various mundane tasks which must be completed but don’t leave you feeling overly fulfilled with your lot.
While experiencing this feeling and knowing that the importance of what a mother really does is an important lesson.
Now I set a time block schedule, I prioritise and I create a sustainable workday that while isn’t always perfect, works to incorporate my goals and my to-do list into the day so that I can manage the constant juggle that is motherhood.
Working hard toward goals that you set for yourself, for your home, your relationships, your creativity or your health need to be a part of life.
What is time block scheduling
Block scheduling is basically setting blocks of time in your day, it can be for either hours or minutes.
In a set block you set aside a number of tasks to be completed, and these tasks are usually the same or similar each day so that you can create a routine that you don’t have to think about.
creating this type of schedule is good for those of us who have the same but different work each day, there is always dishes, always washing, always cooking.
you may not work out every day, or leave the house every day, or homeschool every day and so to have time blocks that include these but include other things on other days means you know what you are going to do each day and if you write a to-do list, you know WHEN you can get it done.
How does time blocking scheduling work?
Time blocking can work exactly how you need it to.
You can block in or out anything.
You can create chore blocks, rest blocks, work blocks, school blocks, garden blocks, reading blocks, cooking blocks you can combine these blocks into a zoned block, for example, I have a kitchen zone block.
My kitchen zone block is time I spend in the kitchen, usually late afternoon, it is the time when I cook dinner, prepare sourdough bread for the next day, deep clean an area, organise the chook scraps, clean out the fridge, whatever needs doing in the kitchen.
This block is here, every day and I know that every day I will have time to cook, prepare for the next day so I don’t have to be in the kitchen all day, and clean my kitchen for the night.
how to make time blocking work for you to reach your goals
Time blocking can work for everyone, and with a few easy steps, you can figure out where to place your blocks for different tasks and needs in your home.
Time blocking is effective for planners and non-planners, it gives you the ability to create structure in your day without feeling ‘structured’
I am not a rigid planner.
I don’t over plan my homeschooling, I don’t plan rigid meal plans or follow timed schedules.
I do however need a system that gets me towards reaching my goals.
Time blocking helps me know my tasks, remove distraction and keeps me motivated.
It is also a good way to add in screen-free time zones in your day, time spent without any interference or having to leave the house if you stick to scheduling out of the home activities into certain blocks and knowing when you will be home.
It depends on what you need from your days, but for me, in order to focus on my home and my children and fit in time for myself, I rely on time blocks to get it all done without feeling overwhelmed.
start with your priorities!
We don’t all have the same home life, and therefore we don’t all have the same to-do lists or the same priorities.
What are your top priorities each day?
Choose 3 or 4 things you MUST get done each day, to reach a standard you set for your home or a goal you set for yourself.
Your time blocks are set around these.
I have 5 priorities in my daily life.
- Read my bible/ goal- grow in my faith and knowledge
- spend quality time with my children /goal-homeschool consistently/raise godly children
- spend time with my husband /goal-maintian a healthy and happy marriage
- workout/ goal-increase muscle mass
- blog consistently/ goal-create a online comminuty of likeminded women and child raisers ro encourage and help
Include rest blocks
In order to achieve long-term goals in your daily routine as well as survive the daily grind, you need to give yourself time to rest.
I do not time block my time overly on weekends.
5 days a week I am creating time blocks and zones for my life, some days I am tired and my feet ache from being busy all day.
This isn’t a bad thing, not if you can schedule a block on a weekend or weekday if your weekends are full to do nothing.
AS mothers, a nothing block is pretty hard to come by I won’t lie.
I have learned to create these blocks, by actively ignoring other things I need to do, I wasn’t always good at this, and I would keep going and going until I was permanently exhausted.
You need to allow yourself rest or just time to do something that helps you relax for a few minutes each day and perhaps a little longer on the weekends, even if it means sitting on the couch watching a DVD in a messy lounge room, let your self stop for a while.
weekends I look forward to for their lack of structure. I like waking up and not knowing always what I will be doing, it relieved the feeling of having to show up.
Create blocks that function together
In order to reach your goals by setting daily priorities, you need to have a functioning schedule.
this will happen without you having to think much about it if your days are run with an element of function and routine.
being able to plan ahead is the key.
CREATE A DAILY TO-DO LIST THAT YOU CAN MANAGE
This may only be several items in the day, but have the list so you can plan ahead if you need to.
My to-do list may include:
- Weed vegie garden for 40 minutes
- meal plan for next week’s grocery shop
- 30 minutes painting the kitchen cabinets.
If I need to weed my garden I would do this in my morning block, in the playtime after school, before lunch.
I call this my miscellaneous time to get different jobs done around my home.
In order to have a smooth transition between my miscellaneous block and my lunch/quiet time block, I need to prep the midday meal before I go out.
In the morning chore block, I will include prepping something to heat in the oven, or organising everything I need for sandwiches, so I can leave the school table, the children play outside and I get my gardening done, then straight inside to do lunch and start the daily quiet time.
by creating the small to-do list, I know what I need to fit into which block and I know how I need to prepare for that item so I can move onto the next block without the hassle of a lunchtime scramble and then a half missed quiet time when the children go down for their nap late.
for my meal planning, I will know that it has to be done in the quiet time when I sit and work at my desk.
the painting I will get to before I prep dinner, during the last half hour of quiet time, or while the children play. I will already be in the kitchen at this time, so I can apply a quick coat and complete the daily tasks as I go.
Free block schedule download!
THE FOUR RULES OF EFFECTIVE TIME BLOCKING
time blocking like anything in life can be easy to throw to the wayside during a difficult or just an off-kilter day.
You need to have rules to follow until the process becomes more natural, and you will be sticking to your time blocks in a functional and sustainable way.
Using this way of planning your day is not rigid or overly structured if you don’t like that.
there is still room for relaxed living and spontaneity.
But if you have goals you set for yourself, then having some kind of time frame each day to work on, and knowing when the item you set to be done is slotted into your day then you are much more likely to get it done and get it done consistently.
PLACE YOUR PRIORITIES AT THE FRONT OF EVERY BLOCK
This is key to actually completing the tasks you set for yourself.
I mentioned earlier that time blocking is created by you and for you.
So you should never schedule a block in which you start your most important task(priority) at the back end of the block.
Rewrite it, and start the block in a place where you can get the task/priority done in the front of the block.
My bible reading priority. I get up, and during my morning coffee, I read my bible. FIRST THING IN THE MONRING< the start of my first block I am already ticking off my first priority of the day.
My morning block is 2 hours long, I could schedule my bible reading anywhere in that two hours, but anything could happen and I have a lot I want to get done in those two hours before the children rise, so in order to reach my goal, I set it first.
My workout priority takes the most diligence in my day to complete. I could work out first thing in the morning, but my bible reading and my coffee time are more important to me in that part of the day.
I complete my workout 3-4 times per week at the start of the quiet time block.
Some days when I have no motivation to get it done I literally have to count down from five in my head and tell myself, get it done now!
At the start of the quiet time block.
If I start anything else, if I sit at my desk, start cleaning the kitchen or go outside 8 times out of 10 it won’t get my workout done.
It takes diligence and some days a lot of discipline, but it’s important for me to reach the goal that I set for my own health.
CHOOSE YOUR GLASS BALLS!
Think of your day to day tasks as glass and plastic balls, the day is juggling them both.
in each block you have glass balls, tasks like getting dinner on the table, caring for children, spending time with your husband and the priorities you set to reach your goals.
You can not drop these balls. They smash and leave you spiralling out of control, stress builds if daily you are dropping the wrong balls.
The plastic balls, a meant to be dropped. They don’t break, they stay on the ground, ready to be picked up, and you can come back and pick them up when you have dealt with your glass balls.
plastic balls are things like, tidying, folding washing, and the mundane tasks which do affect your life if you never do them, but are okay to be dropped for a time and come back to.
LEANING TIME MANAGEMENT IS CRUCIAL TO EFFECTIVE TIME BLOCKING
If the block finishes, and you need to move on to the next glass ball, drop the plastic balls of the previous block (hopefully you complete the glass ball task in the front of the block and it is done already) and move on, the tidying you were doing, the work you were doing, whatever it was, pause, and come back later.
For example. The glass balls in my daily life are:
workout (I will let this drop if other glass balls aren’t completed)
maintain my veggie garden
cook from scratch
1-2 hours of blogging.
Plastic balls for me are things like, having a clean home, always making my bed, always being ready for the day, and I alternate days where the meals I prepare are less time consuming(usually Fridays and Saturdays), I let the ball drop a little so I can spend more time with the children, being out of the house or spending time with my husband.
MOVE TO THE NEXT BLOCK EVEN IF SOME TASKS YOU SET FOR THAT BLOCK AREN’T COMPLETE
this may seem counterintuitive, but if each block has some priority, either with some set goals in your life or mundane tasks like cooking or cleaning, then each block has a function.
If one block is interrupted, or you just underestimated how much time a task would take you, finish the task as quickly as possible and if the next block in your day is scheduled to start then try and get to it as quickly as possible.
PLAN A TIME FRAME/ OVERESTIMATE YOUR TIME
when planning your blocks and planning a time frame for your tasks, it’s always best to overestimate.
For my workout, I estimate an hour. If it’s less I have time to sit for a while, if not I still have time for everything else.
Even when estimating time to clean a bathroom, or make beds, give yourself an extra 5-10 minutes, this way you don’t start to lose control of your blocks as time seeps away from you.
As you get better you will be able to hone your block planning and effectiveness.
HOW TO SWITCH OUT A PRIORITY TASK AND PICK IT BACK UP
This depends on how dedicated you are to that goal.
If I were to miss a workout, I do not wake the next morning and do two. that would be counterintuitive. The next day I am to have a rest day I will pick up the workout then or switch my workout for a walk or a set of sprints which can be done in 15 minutes.
Practising flexibility is key to a sustainable lifestyle, in which you don’t tire out, but still reach your goals.
For other priorities I set for myself, for example, this blog, I try my absolute hardest to get here consistently, but as far as things go in my home life, this is the least important.
Homeschooling, child training, my marriage, the state of my home and my health are all more important to me.
Blogging is a glass ball task, but it is the first glass ball I will let drop as it doesn’t affect my health or my family.
If I cannot complete my blogging task then I get up at 4:30-5:00 am three days a week to get in a solid few hours before the children wake, this affects me and not my day blocks.
If you have a glass ball task, and you drop it two to three days in a row, then you need to.
- Reasses your blocks, are they working for you?
- Are you taking on too much?
- Are you taking to long to complete your glass ball tasks?
- Is your environment holding you back form being effective( is your home tidy? do you hav some level of organisation?
We all have off days, how to recover is key is to pick up and move on
No day for me is 100% smooth sailing when it comes to just getting things done.
With five young children, I find myself constantly pulled from one distraction to the next, while trying to maintain my home.
It is definitely made easier with block scheduling and knowing what I need to get done vs what can get done in a day and getting the important things done creates a feeling of satisfaction an the ability to move forward with the important tasks of the household.
Having a bad day can be common, what makes the difference is how you recover.
- Complete glass ball tasks over plastic.
- Take time to rest at the end of that day.
For me, I can keep going, and going picking up plastic balls and trying not to drop glass ones but I end up getting cranky, distracted and stressed out.
Getting to bed early, and then starting the next day, fresh and ready to start over.
In this way I find I drop less of my glass balls over time, and since consistency is everything if you want to reach a goal you set for yourself then it is better to quickly recover and possibly reassess my days in order to get back on track.
that sums up the basics of block scheduling!
My other posts in My homemaking series