I have tried so many things in the past 5 years that I have been a work from home mom and pretty much all my life. My problem is I’m a procrastinator at heart, I hate routine but I also need routine, I am spontaneous and I struggle with following rules. A schedule translates to me into–rules. So one of the first things that helped someone like me to overcome my fear of schedules was to look at them more like boundaries than rules. I can do boundaries! Block scheduling has changed my life. I feel more productive and organized but I still feel freedom.
I’ve tried “the every minute of my day scheduled” routine because I homeschooled all three of my boys, worked from home and was very involved in my community so I NEEDED to be organized. To my dismay this system never stuck even in the midst of the need.
So if you’re like me and you struggle with rigid schedule I suggest you try this system. I recently decided to start block scheduling. Basically, block scheduling means you create several smaller to-do lists each day under each block… and then you tackle each of those smaller to-do lists during different “blocks” of time throughout the day. Even though I’ve been doing this for some time now, I didn’t come up with this idea, it’s actually a thing–block scheduling. Author Michael Hyatt talks about quite a bit.
Before I continue I want to mention that this article Day 2 of my 21 days to Discover the Heart of Your Home or maybe you’re simply needing to “rediscover” the heart of your home. No matter where you find yourself at, I’m inviting you to join me in this journey as I share some key tips and ideas that have worked in our home.
Key to Planning a Successful Day
The key is creating several l smaller to-do lists each day under each block… and then you tackle each of those smaller to-do lists during different “blocks” of time throughout the day.
Here’s an example of a simple block schedule. It broken down into 5 blocks but it can be less blocks. I work from home so that is why you see household chores. The smaller tasks will look different for everyone since all of schedules and commitments vary from family to family. Also, I want to mention I divide my household chores into different days so I’m not doing everything in one day. With little kids doing it all on one day only created frustration for me because the next day it was filthy. I do sweep, wash dishes and clean counters daily.
How the Block Scheduling SystemWorks
- Before work
Exercise, Read, Breakfast
- At work
Write an article, Clean kitchen, meal plan, go grocery shopping…
Lunch Break – read, journal
- At work
Do a load of laundry, clean bathrooms, get dinner prepped
Kid pick-up, help with homework, make dinner, hangout with kids…
If this basic form of block scheduling works go for it. The key is to divide the smaller activities under more general blocks of time but not tons of blocks. You can divide your blocks into morning, mid morning, lunch, afternoon and evening.
Below is what I came up for myself. I tried to come up with an acronym to help me remember what my goals are for the day so I use F.E.A.S.T. I share what that means below. After thinking through how my day plays out and the things that are most important to me, I came up with these broad blocks that go with our family values that I share HERE.
The key to a successful day is to come up with a loose but boundary filled day.
- Sit down and come up with a list of things that are important and divide your day into those blocks but remember you want them to be general blocks otherwise you’re back to a rigid schedule.
These are the 5 things I need in order to function throughout my day: family, energizing activities, accomplish, service, tilling. When I have a routine for these 5 areas of my life I find myself more centered, purposeful and dare I say “organized”.
When I write down all of my daily tasks under these categories I am more focused and it makes me think more about where my energy and time is being spent.
It also helps me figure out what I should be saying “no” to and keeps me focused. This block scheduling routine gives me a simple way to plan my day by focusing on the 5 things that I value and want in my day. Block schedules also helps me be more productive. The blocks serve as “deadlines” because now the task has to be done in that block timeline.
Just remember to give yourself grace. I know that when I get to rigid with my schedule the minute something doesn’t go as planned then I just throw the whole day out the window. Remember the block scheduling is to create freedom and margin in our life.
How I Personalize the Block Scheduling for Me!
Here’s my layout: (some of the blocks are repeated throughout the day)
Block 1 – Family (morning and evening)
Block 2 – Energizing activities (morning & sometimes in the evening)
Block 3 –Accomplish (done in the morning and afternoon)
Block 4 – Service/Community
Block 5 – Tilling/Cultivating (evening)
Here are the details for each block:
Family – In this block are all things that involve my family in the morning. I try to focus on them in the morning and try not do anything else. I wake up and play some calming music that’s good for our soul but sometimes I just need quiet so I don’t play anything.
Energize – In this block I include all things that I need to energize me, those things that are a necessity for me to function fully in my day. So I have in this section: Devotional, Eat (Yes, I forget to do this sometimes so I have to include it), yoga & exercise, scripture art, reading… Yoga for me is not exercise though it’s obviously exercise it’s usually only 10-15 minutes and I need it to physically function with some of my health issues. So exercising is usually between 30-1 hour depending on the day. My devotional time is usually a time I spend journal my prayers, my bible study time and/or my scripture art time.
Accomplish – In this block I have things like work whether it’s house work or blog work. Things like my freelance writing, meal planning, working on my blog, household chores, grocery shopping, errands, course work… I’ve divided my chores into daily tasks so I’m not doing it all on one day. For example, on Tuesday my focus is the kitchen. This “Accomplish” block sometimes happens twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. In this block things change all of the time so I keep a To-do List and I write all of the random things I have to do so that when I come to this part of my day I can start checking off things that fall in that block of time.
- The goal is to have all of the above (family, energize and accomplish) done by lunch time. During my lunch time I have some me time and I’ll read a book, journal or flip through a magazine. Sometimes I’ll peruse the internet but that usually sucks me in and then my lunch ends up being 2 hours instead of 1 hour.
Service/Community – In this block I have things like: book club, volunteering in the community, woman’s group, feasting with friends & strangers over a meal, mentoring gatherings… This category can happen at different times of the day and many times it involves my family. For example, once a week in the afternoon I give Mom Chats to girls who have babies and were rescued from some from of human trafficking so this happens during the day in the afternoon. Today, I will enjoy this service block twice in our day, I will have a lunch gathering where I’m meeting up with friends to discuss a woman’s group called RefresHer that we host throughout the year. That evening, our family will feast and fellowship in our home with the girls from the local shelter that I’m involved with. So all of these things fall under service or community even if they are fun things, things I enjoy or things I do with friends.
Tilling/Cultivating – This block was a stretch for my names but I loved all that the words TILLING and CULTIVATING entail. Basically, these words describe what happens every evening once my kids start rolling in through the front door. What I do with them, for them, for my family and myself, is tilling the ground preparing them by cultivating values, faith, respect, love, encouragement… So in this block its what I do after 3:30p.m. when my kids walk through the door–catch up with them and find out about their day, give them a snack, make sure they do their homework, read with them, make dinner for them or with them, make sure they follow our lunch prep routine, family game time, devotional time, praying time, pillow talk time… This all basically ends at 8p.m. when we put them to bed.
After they are in bed then I either have some me time, finish up some work, just sit and read, catch up with the hubby, watch a show with my husband, projects for myself or hangout with friends… I really try not to work in this time but some days it’s inevitable. My goal is to be in bed by 10 p.m. because I need the sleep. I’m normally a night person and can stay up late but I have found that going to bed by 10p.m. helps me function a bit more easily the following day.
I only use this system for the weekdays, during the weekend its usually a mix of service, energizing activities and tilling/cultivating and family intermingled in the midst of it all but with lots of time flexibility.
Remember, it’s all about setting boundaries but being flexible enough to go with the curve balls thrown in your day. Otherwise you find yourself stressing because your “Energize time” has taken you all morning and now it’s lunch.
The beauty of a balanced life is intermingled with grace and boundaries for yourself and for others.
So hopefully, this has encouraged you to come up with a block schedule and come up with a routine for your day. As I said, I’m very much all over the place and do things as they come to mind or have the desire to do but what I have been doing to help me stay on task is I keep a to-do list and I write those things down so that I can come back to them later when that block of time comes up.
Make sure to stop by Day 1 – 3 Simple Steps to Create a Family Mission Statement if you missed it.
Here’s another resource video where we talk about creating margin in our life as women.