Wednesday Tip: Use Blocking and Themes to Streamline Your Schedule
If you feel like you’re constantly jumping from task to task and always behind schedule (if you even have a schedule), try time blocking or theme days to feel more in control. Studies have shown how ineffective multitasking is, but we still persist in ping-ponging about our day. Try one or both of these strategies and see if it helps you:
Time Blocking: If you have a regular, fairly uniform schedule, try time blocking. Make a list of your recurring tasks (phone calls, data entry, client meetings, etc.) and assign them a block of time each day. If you’re not a morning person, maybe mindless data entry should happen from 9-10am, while more creative work is scheduled for a chunk of time in the afternoon. By grouping things like calls to make, you cut down on the time it takes your brain to switch between different tasks, making you way more efficient. Also less stressed, which equals less cranky, which is just nicer for everybody.
Theme Days: For those of us without set schedules, theme days are easier to maintain. When I was teaching, my schedule rotated and was different every day of the week. To stay on track and make sure everything got done, I created Theme Days; Monday was grading, Tuesday planning, Wednesday room maintenance, etc. Now I have writing days, client days, and office days. I don’t worry about entering my expenses on a writing day because I know I’ve already assigned that task to an office day.
By giving a name to certain times of day or days of the week, we let our brains relax in the knowledge that it will get done because we’ve already assigned a time for it. Spend the next week keeping track of your tasks and how long you spend on them, then map out a daily time block or theme days schedule.