My planner and I have a rather intimate relationship. I go everywhere with it; it goes everywhere with me (theoretically). In all seriousness though, I attribute my ability to juggle several responsibilities at once to effective time management skills.
In college, though admittedly over committed, I honestly thrived on the structure provided to me by my busy schedule. When I had too much time on my hands, I found myself wasting time (or overtraining). Like I’ve said before, school was my PRIORITY so not getting it done was NOT an option. That meant that if I only had an hour in between class and one of the three jobs I worked during those years, that it had to get done- NO if’s, and’s, or but’s! I tried to do (and be) it all, did and somehow managed to pull it all off, BUT at a great expense: high stress, little sleep and I shamefully admit now, compromised work quality, at times. Had I instead chosen to FOCUS on one thing, and focused on nothing but that, I’d have been arguably less stressed, better rested and produced work of a higher quality. And that’s not to say I didn’t do well, because I did, but I know with absolute certainty that I am guilty of not having performed up to my potential on more than one occasion.
Here’s where I went wrong. I saw any open slot of time in my day as time meant to be filled. In my mind, opens slots = productivity lost. I kept an appointment book and literally had something scheduled in every half-hour slot from when class began at 8:00 a.m. until I returned to my dorm at night around 10:30 p.m. I even had “SLEEP” scheduled from midnight-5:00 a.m, just to avoid blank slots. Who schedules sleep and what was I thinking?! [Clearly, I wasn’t.]
This practice spilled over into the first six or so months of my life post-grad, until I began to practice TIME BLOCKING. I sat down and gave some thought as to what my ideal day would look like. A few of the things I considered: ‘When does is start/end? When do you have the most/least energy? When are you most/least productive? What are your priorities? How much time does each priority demand?’ For me, I live for mornings. I have pep in my step first thing (after my coffee, obviously 🙂 ), but as the day wears on my energy stores are drained and my productivity slows. I usually get a second wind late afternoon, but even then my energy is nowhere near where it is upon waking. As for my priorities? Clients, the future (i.e. grad school, career, blog etc.) and me (workouts, relationships, clean eats, reading, relaxing etc). Those priorities are broad, I realize, but by awarding a time “block” to each priority ensures that shit gets done.
So then you have this ‘ideal’ day, for whatever it’s worth, but now what? You know what you want and when you want it, which means one thing: time to put a plan into ACTION. So instead of allowing my clients to “pick a time, anytime,” I began to tell them I trained between such-and-such hours, and gave them the available slots they had to choose from. Terrifying, yes, but for the most part they made my schedule work with theirs. And of those that were originally turned off, most came back. Take risks. Trust the process. If you don’t, you’ll never know what could be. NOTE: when given the choice, clients (training or anything else) will pick the most inconvenient time, guaranteed. And then, YOU are left running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Not cool, extremely draining and painfully obvious to those around you. But, it’s something within YOUR control entirely.
Now I’m not trying to pretend that my schedule’s perfect. In fact, it’s far from it. But by scheduling clients back-to-back in the mornings (for the most part- there are exceptions), I minimize the distraction that would stem from training clients way early ’til way late and can move onto my next priority fully-focused.
HOW do you block your time? An appointment book/planner works best for me, but what works for me might not work for you. I like to have something to carry around with me, at all times, that I can write in (in pencil), color code, etc. I like to be able to see what my day looks like, where I have to be and when. And I’m kind of an organization freak so each block of time has a color associated with it. I also like routine so you can pretty much find me at the same place at the same time on any given day Monday-Friday.
Others most are more tech savvy than I (Danny Coleman might agree lol) and would rather go electronic… or are just really good at keeping things straight in their head. Experiment and find what works for YOU!
The process of transitioning to a blocked schedule has been a gradual one, and is one that is still “in progress,” at that. I am working less, but more efficiently and still have some time at the end of the day to myself 🙂 #winning.
How do you manage your schedule? Do you block your time? Let me know what you think!