Words by Tara Wagner
4 Must Do’s For CALENDAR BLOCKING to Keep Working
So you’re all Gung Ho, you’ve set up your time blocking calendar blocking schedule and then it all falls apart. Maybe it lasted a few days, maybe a few weeks, maybe you were able to eek out a couple of months before you got off track and you fell back to square one. Am I right?
I’ve talked to so many of my clients, other female entrepreneurs, people who are trying to implement time blocking or calendar blocking in their schedule, and I hear this again and again. That it doesn’t work, they get off track, that it’s not realistic, and that they just give up.
And in probably 80% of them that I talk to, what I’m about to teach you in this video solves the problem for them.
So if you want to figure this out, either ahead of time if you’re just getting started with this, or if you have had this pattern in the past and you want to learn how to overcome it, I’m going to teach you the 4 things that you must be doing to make it calendar blocking actually work and continue to work over the long run.
If you’re brand new to the idea of time blocking, you’re going to be way ahead of the curve if you understand what I’m about to teach you. Because if you’ve been around the block with time blocking, you know how easy it is to get off track and to fall behind on it.
There are actually 2 different things that I find people are not doing most of the time when they struggle with something like calendar blocking or time blocking (or whatever in the world you want to call it). And of those 2 things, 1 of them has 4 different things that you actually need to be scheduling in your calendar if you’re doing calendar blocking.
Step #1 – BE MORE REALISTIC wih your calendar blocking
The first big reason I find that people struggle with time blocking is that they’re really just not being realistic with how much time things actually take, or they’re forgetting to schedule things that maybe don’t come up on a regular basis.
When these things do come up, they end up throwing their entire calendar out the door because they’ve forgotten things like a doctor’s appointment or maybe even scheduling in white space for opportunities to come up.
So when an opportunity does come up, you’re throwing out your schedule instead of being able to have your schedule work around those things because you’ve left open space in that schedule for unexpected things.
SOLUTION: Do a time audit.
The solution here is kind of a painful one, I’m not going to lie; I hate doing this myself and I feel the pain when I ask a client to do this as well. But sometimes we need to sit down and do a time audit. Which means we need to be meticulously tracking our time and maybe even looking over our calendar the previous 6 or 12 months to look at anything that we may be forgetting to schedule in upcoming months.
Another way that you could do a time audit is to estimate how long the tasks on your schedule should take you and then track how long they actually take you.
This is where a lot of people are surprised and why I tell people that you really should be adding 50% to any estimate that you give, because inevitably things will come up. So if you didn’t need that extra time and you just happen to be way ahead in your schedule, halle-freaking-lujah. That’s not going to happen very often, so celebrate it. But most of the time that 50% is going to go to the things that do come up.
One of the things that I found in my own time audit was that I really just needed to plan to have a day just for overflow work. If I can schedule 3-4 days of work and have one day pretty much unscheduled, that’s very realistic for my schedule.
When you do a time audit, you’re going to see according to your schedule what’s going to be needed and what’s most realistic so that you can make those adjustments for yourself.
Now, this isn’t 1 of the 4 things that I think every single person needs to do. This is just a likelihood and something that I’ve seen solves a lot of the problems around calendar blocking.
However, there are 4 things that every person needs to do to make calendar blocking work and continue working. They’ll help you to stay on track with it in the long run.
#2 – Time blocking time to time block
We all need to be time blocking time to time block, which I know sounds extremely meta and maybe a little bit confusing, so let me put it this way.
We need to plan time to plan.
There are 4 things that we need to be calendar blocking or time blocking on a consistent basis and that is:
- Daily review and planning
- Weekly review and planning
- Monthly review and planning
- Quarterly review and planning
And maybe you can even throw in an annual review and planning if you really want to get serious with it. But I’m just going to talk about these 4 because I like to look at things a quarter at a time.
The way that I recommend to do this is to actually do it in advance and in reverse.
So go to the end of this quarter and block off however much time you think you need for quarterly planning.
If that’s a day or 2 days, just go ahead and block off 2 and then go ahead and schedule your monthly review and planning after that point.
Your weekly review and planning and your daily review and planning should repeat on a consistent basis. Set this up in your calendar so that it repeats for you and you’re not trying to remember to do it.
The reason that I recommend that you do this in advance is that your next few weeks or months are probably already planned out. But if you go far enough in advance, you’re going to find white space on your calendar and if you block it off now and set it to manually repeat, then when you go in to schedule something later on, the calendar is going to already say that you’re booked. That way you’re not going to book yourself during the time that you actually need to do your planning.
I’m going to go through each one of these and explain what I mean by review and planning and how to do them really effectively.
But I first want to say it’s important that we remember that time blocking or calendar blocking is not a one and done project. It’s a consistent process that we need to consistently be reviewing.
Think of this like driving a car. If you take your hands off the wheel, there’s going to be tiny variations in the road or traffic coming along. Or maybe your car is just a hot mess right now and you’re going to slowly start to veer off course.
If you don’t want your time to veer off course, you get to keep your hands on the wheel of your schedule through regular review and planning.If you don't want your time to veer off course, you get to keep your hands on the wheel of your schedule through regular review and planning. (Tara Wagner) Click To Tweet
QUARTERLY Review and Planning
So let’s start off with the quarterly review and planning. Now I have a blog on how to create a 90 day goal and I highly recommend that you watch that, but it’s really geared around reviewing and planning your goals.
What I want you to do with your schedule is also have time in there to review and plan around your time blocking.
So you’re going to review the previous quarter and ask yourself how you did and where you might have gotten off track. You’re looking ahead to see if there’s anything coming up in your quarter that maybe you didn’t account for in your initial plans.
Now overall your quarterly planning and review can take anywhere from one to two days. But this part of it really usually doesn’t take too long. Maybe 30 minutes to an hour of that is going towards reviewing your time and your schedule, seeing what’s working and where you need to make those tiny course corrections.
MONTHLY REVIEW AND PLANNING
Monthly review and planning is doing the same thing except you’re looking over the previous month and you’re looking ahead to the next month. You’ll need to do it with your goals to make sure that things are getting scheduled appropriately according to your priorities, and according to what you’re trying to accomplish in the next month.
You really want to make sure that the original schedule that you set up is either still working or that the tweaks that need to happen over the next month are going to happen because you were paying attention to how your time needs to be spent.
So again, it’s not this one and done thing where you set up your schedule and you never look at it again. You’re constantly comparing your schedule with your goals, your activities, and the things that need to happen so that you can make the corrections on a regular basis.
We do this on a monthly view because when we do that, we don’t have to spend so much time on the weekly view.
WEEKLY REVIEW AND PLANNING
The weekly review and planning is just taking a closer look at things.
- “How did the last week go?”
- “Was I able to get everything done?”
- “Was I doing the right things?”
- “How much time did I overwork”
- “How much free time did I have?”
And you’re taking those lessons from the past week and you’re applying them to the week ahead.
I have a blog on how to prioritize. It shows you how to make this weekly schedule and it’s really helpful to show you how to prioritize the right things, especially when everything feels like it might be the right thing.
Overall, the time it takes to do this for myself is probably about 30 minutes to just look over my schedule, and make the tweaks that I need to make, but in the beginning, it did take me longer as I was figuring out what needed to happen.
I also find that I have to do this weekly schedule simply because I may have forgotten about at doctor’s appointment (that I made and didn’t check my calendar before I made it), or something a little time sensitive came up and I need to rearrange things.
But if I have a decent time block or calendar blocking schedule set up and I’ve created that white space and that flexibility in there, I’m able to make those tweaks really easily and so now I can do it a lot faster because I’ve done this so often.
Over time, you’re going to start to see that in the beginning you’re spending a lot of time troubleshooting and figuring things out because you’re just going to forget stuff the first time you set it up, but slowly you’re going to be chipping away at the process and getting it more and more streamlined and getting your schedule together better. So you’re going to have fewer and fewer things come up because you’re going to learn as you go along and improve your calendar blocking throughout the weeks that you’re working on this.
DAILY REVIEW AND PLANNING
The daily, you guessed it, is just a little micro view where you are looking at that day and saying, “okay, did this day go according to plan? If not, what can I learn from that?”
And then I’m always looking ahead to see, “okay, what’s on my calendar for the next day, maybe 2 days…” The reason that I do this in particular is because at the very end of the day, if I have a good idea of how my day needs to start tomorrow, I go in very efficient and I get the most important things done first.
That way I don’t get distracted or pulled into social media or conversations or other people’s priorities before I’m doing the most important things first, so it helps me to get started on the right foot by knowing in advance how I need to be spending my first hour or my first 2 hours in the day.
If you want some more guidance on how to really break down calendar blocking and apply some really effective strategies…
I have a free download called Time Blocking Boss that I recommend you grab. It’ll walk you through some more step by step and nitty gritty of setting up a schedule that works, but just make sure that you’ve scheduled these 4 things in your calendar to repeat on a consistent basis, whether that’s in your task list or your calendar. Make sure that it happens, preferably in both.
You can download Time Blocking Boss by clicking here or by clicking the link below.
What about you, boss lady?
Leave a comment below with your calendar blocking wins, flops, or questions.
Scroll down to leave your comments!
LOVE IT? SHARE IT!
About the Author
I’m the breakthrough coach for self-employed women who are barely surviving their business. I help you to identify and overcome your old habits – both practical, as well as emotional and mental – learn a better way of approaching the work/life/family juggling act, and gain confidence in your new role in your growing businesses. Learn more about me here.
Let’s Connect On
Let's Connect On