How I Structure My Day & Why I Don’t Timeblock

It’s been quite a few months since I’ve posted here. Life just gets in the way sometimes, but have no fear, I’m back, at least for today. In the time since my last post, I’ve gotten rather used to my hybrid work schedule despite initially struggling with it.

To recap, since August, I’ve been alternating working two days (Mondays and Fridays) or three days (Tuesdays-Thursdays) in the office every other week. While the schedule definitely has its benefits, it also has its downsides. The biggest downside is my days spent in the office are far less focused due to various interruptions and distractions throughout the day. To account for this, I looked for ways to add more structure to my weeks and accepted that depending on where I was spending my time, some weeks would just be better suited for certain tasks than others depending on the level of focus they required.

I’ve since begun adding more structure to my days as well, probably because time-blocking (and time-tracking) seems to be a rather popular topic in the circles I find myself in online at the moment.

But… time blocking doesn’t work for me.

As much as my Type A mind really appreciates the detail that comes with planning days out like Cal Newport. I usually end up abandoning my perfectly time-blocked calendar at the first sign of the day deviating from my plan. A part of me even rebels against having a plan for every hour of my day. (Don’t tell that to my other half who’d probably jump for joy at the idea of me not having things planned out in excruciating detail.)

Instead of scheduling out my days, I think of my days as conceptual time blocks starting with morning, afternoon, and evening. This actually harkens back to my Erin Condren Life Planner days which used the exact same blocks of which, surprisingly, I wasn’t a huge fan at the time. From there, I batch my tasks according to how I know I best work, while also adding some variety to make sure I’m not doing one thing for too long.

A typical day might look something like this:

  • Morning
    • Administrative Tasks – This block includes things like ordering my tasks in Things 3 making sure things are tagged into their appropriate morning, afternoon, or evening blocks; checking my email; checking my budget in YNAB; and lastly, checking into our ticketing system to triage any support requests that came in overnight.
    • Personal Administrative Tasks – (Note: If I’m working in the office, I do this first because I need to do these before I get into the office.) This block includes things like getting ready for the day, making the bed, feeding our ancient 18-year-old cat, meditating, and also grabbing a bite to eat.
    • 1st Project/Meeting Block – This is when I work on my 3 tasks for the day. Most of my meetings also tend to be scheduled around this time as well. I get through as much as I can.
    • Break – Around this time, I start getting restless from sitting. If I’m working from home, I’ll do a quick workout on Apple Fitness Plus. If I’m in the office, I go for a short walk, preferably outside.
  • Afternoon
    • Admin Check – I usually circle back to my email and any other communications during this time. Not mentioned above, but I continue monitoring our ticketing system and phone lines constantly throughout the day.
    • Lunch Break – Self-explanatory, but I also try and fit in some sort of activity in here as well – usually another walk.
    • 2nd Project/Meeting Block – If I haven’t finished my 3 tasks from the morning, I keep working on them here until I finish them. I also get the occasional meeting scheduled around this time.
  • Evening
    • Exercise – If I haven’t finished my exercise by this point in the day, this is where I do my scheduled workout (using Apple Fitness Plus).
    • Evening Chores – I use this time to wrap up any chores I still need to complete for the day. I also use this time to shower, get ready for the next day, meditate, feed the cat, and start dinner.
    • Evening Shutdown – This is where I look over my to-do list in Things, rescheduling anything I might not have gotten to and scheduling my three tasks for the next day.
    • Dinner & Free Time – With everything done for the day, I’m free to finally sit down on the couch with something to eat and relax however I please.

The beauty of this structure is it’s easy to start each morning with a general idea of how I’m going to approach my to-do list without scheduling tasks or my calendar being so rigid that any slight deviation throws my day out of wack. It also takes into account how I best work – giving me time during the mornings to work on things that require the most focus, allowing for movement and mental breaks throughout the day, and also allowing for buffer time if things take longer or come up throughout the day.

I’m not sure if this is helpful to anyone, but if it has been or you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

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