I will preface this by stating that I’m not perfect at time blocking. Procrastination is a sneaky little fiend that always manages to snatch my wayward mind. Such is the life of many people with ADHD. And I’m no exception. But, over the years, I’ve learned how to take ownership of my time and how I spend it. For example, creating an organized environment improves my focus. Having a plan in place keeps me productive and moving towards my goals. Creating visual and aural reminders helps me remember my priorities. Training myself to arrive at appointments and events 10-20 minutes early helps me honor my commitments. And making time blocking a regular habit has increased my productivity.
A Quick Rundown on Time Blocking
So, if time blocking is a new term, let me give you a quick definition. Time blocking involves dividing tasks, priorities, and routines into manageable chunks. Thus, creating an intuitive and responsive schedule based on your unique needs and goals. This time management method has helped me get more organized and stay on track with my writing, personal, and life goals.
Putting Time Blocking Into Action
Again, the act of time blocking is something that’s going to depend on the individual. But, for me, I utilize it as a way to create a flow in my day and accomplish daily tasks. Setting aside designated amounts of time for chores, routines, projects, fitness, and work allows me to achieve goals quickly. Thus, decreasing my nemesis procrastination. In addition, knowing what I need to do and when I need to do it creates a sense of urgency surrounding tasks.
My digital calendar is an essential tool in the process of time blocking. Once a month, I take the time to look at my calendar and plug in important appointments, projects, and events. For example, birthdays, anniversaries, deadlines, and doctor’s appointments. Doing this allows me to account for this time and prepare accordingly.
Additionally, I set aside time each week to decide on three to four main priorities I need to accomplish that week. Typically, I will have a primary focus or goal I need to complete for work, one for adulting, and one for myself. Then I designate or “block off” sections of time with the specific tasks needed to accomplish those priorities.
Another example of how I time block is to schedule routines on my calendar. For instance, I block off my morning and evening routines and schedule my workout sessions. Doing this creates structure and flow in my day.
Creating Your Productivity Flow
Another cool thing about time blocking is creating your own productivity flow. Maybe you’re like me, and you’re more focused and efficient in the mornings. Perhaps you should batch more complicated tasks like cleaning, running errands, going to the gym, or completing projects at that time. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than getting all my chores and errands done first thing in the morning. However, I’m so over it by the afternoon and will usually put it off. The point is to identify the time of day that you’re the most productive and take advantage of it.
Furthermore, batching similar tasks together will improve efficiency and productivity. For example, do you need to run errands at places close to each other? You can combine these two errands and knock them out simultaneously if they’re near each other. Taking advantage of these opportunities is an excellent way of preserving energy and effective time management.
Automate Like No One’s Watching
I touched on this earlier, but automation is KING, baby. Automatically blocking time for my daily routines has helped me create structure in my life. And you can make this hack work for you. Take the time to set up recurring tasks, events, routines, or responsibilities to automatically occur on your calendar. Doing so provides a schedule you can follow throughout the day.
I like seeing all the different colors on my calendar. But, aside from making my calendar look pretty, they serve a purpose. Each of those colors represents a specific project, task, or responsibility. So, for example, there’s a particular color for errands, work, social, appointments, phone calls, time off, date night, etc. That way, it’s clear what’s happening when and what I need to do, if anything, to prepare.
Planners, To-Do Lists, & Productivity Tools
In my opinion, you can never have too many productivity tools. Especially if you’re managing ADHD on top of brain fog from chronic illness. It’s a deadly combination, I’m telling you. But having a physical planner or notebook where you can jot down to-do’s and ideas is beneficial. The simple act of writing tasks, priorities, and appointments down can help improve memory.
Additionally, it’s excellent for increasing accountability and achieving goals. Furthermore, many guided planners, digital planners, or bullet journals allow you to track and log specific goals. Finally, setting aside time daily and weekly for planning is an excellent companion to time blocking.
Now It’s Your Turn
Okay, I’ve shared a little about how and why time blocking benefits me. And I provided some pointers to guide you on beginning your journey with time blocking. So, it’s time for you to put it into action. You can start with the basics and use a Google Calendar. Then, pick a quiet space where you can look at the month and plug in all the important dates, events, deadlines, and projects.
Then think about the goals you want to achieve. Whether they’re professional or personal goals. Break those goals down into simple easy to accomplish tasks that you can complete over the next week. Next, block off designated chunks of time where you can put those tasks into action. Then keep doing it each and every week. It’s really that simple and that easy. I hope my basic overview of time blocking inspired you to try it. Or to at least look into it.
Hey Kat, great post. I was just officially diagnosed with inattentive ADHD (at 30 years old!) and have been looking for ways to actually accomplish the goals I want to achieve but keep putting off (the dreaded overwhelm cycle…). I already have a bullet journal which has been the most successful tool for me so far so I am going to try to incorporate brightly colored time blocking to it and see how it goes.
Thanks for the ideas!
I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and I hope color coding your tasks works out for you!
I’m having trouble knowing how long a task will take. I try to track them, but what do you do when the same task might take different amounts of time each time?
Or what about tasks that you think will just take a little time, but then things go wrong that you couldn’t anticipate and it ends up taking much longer than you had planned on?
Thanks for any help!
My therapist told me when I get stuck like this to try to break the task down into the most minor job or action possible and set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and check-in to see if I need more time or if it was enough and keep working on each little sub task. For example, if you need to clean your kitchen, start washing the dishes first and give yourself 5 minutes. Once you’ve reached the time, assess if you need more time or if you don’t. And continue with subsequent tasks until you’re all done. As for struggling to find consistency with completing the same job in the same amount of time, give yourself some grace. There are so many factors that impact us day to day that affects performance and productivity. Instead of being perfect at adhering to a set time, focus on making progress and moving forward. As you said, things come up unexpectedly that we can’t anticipate and will alter our schedules. Remain flexible and avoid beating yourself up. I hope this helps you!