As a project manager, I loved time blocking my day. Time blocking kept me focused and helped me know exactly when I needed to work on each client’s account, which tasks I needed to complete, and when I needed to go to meetings or conference calls. I even included reminders to eat lunch and pump when I was nursing.
But while I used time blocking at work, as a stay-at-home mom, I never thought to spend time planning my day.
After spending months feeling overwhelmed and unproductive (four baskets of unfolded, clean laundry in the living room, I’m looking at you), time blocking became my saving grace.
Sound dramatic? Probably, but time blocking truly helped me stay focused and feel like a better, more organized (in other words, sane) mom.
As a stay-at-home mom, I use time blocking in four ways to help me stay organized and focused.
How to Time Block Your Day
1. List appointments
If you have any appointments or scheduled activities, list those in your planner first. If the appointment takes more than an hour, I create a bracket and block out the time. I then list the appointment in the middle of the bracket.
You might want to block out the amount of time that it takes to drive to the appointment and the time it takes to drive home, too. Not only will you be more likely to leave on time (and arrive on time), but you’ll also be less tempted to schedule back-to-back tasks.
Note: if you struggle to get out the door on time, try using my morning routine printable.
2. Accomplish your goals
In addition to appointments, mark out time blocks for the things that you need to get done each day.
When creating my to-do list, I set three goals for the day based on my priorities. As I’m time blocking, I slot those goals into my day.
This can show up in the form of a longer block of time for your kids’ bedtime routine if one of your goals is to read and snuggle with your kids each night. Or it can even look like a block of time after the kids are in bed for some “mommy time” as you spend time reading those books that you’ve always been “meaning to” read.
Not every day will be a focused, productive day, but it helps to be able to look at your day in time blocks and make sure that you’re making time for your most important tasks.
If I’m not able to find time for my goals, I need to rethink my priorities for the day!
3. Add reminders and to-do list tasks
Another trick to time blocking is to use it as a to-do list. Throughout my day, I add my tasks, like changing the laundry and making dinner, to my planner in time blocks.
This is especially helpful to use in the days leading up to a holiday, party, or even spring cleaning.
Writing my to-do list in time blocks not only reminds me to get my tasks done, but it also helps me plan my day.
For example, I usually change the sheets on Tuesdays, so if I have “sheets” written in the morning and again at 1:00, I’ll remember to rip the sheets off the beds and load them in the washing machine as soon as we wake up, change them to the dryer before I pick up my daughter from preschool, and then put them back on the beds before nap time.
While I have a cleaning chart that I use to stay on track with my weekly, monthly, and quarterly cleaning tasks, it’s still helpful to add blocks of time to my day to stay focused and remember which tasks need to be done.
4. Leave margin time
Not every second of your day needs to be scheduled. Leave unscheduled time in your day to catch up on tasks or take a breather!
Margin time may also be your saving grace if you underestimate the amount of time that tasks take.
I’m famous for thinking that I can start the laundry, do the dishes, vacuum, and dust, all in the 30 minutes before I leave to pick up my son. Not only is that unrealistic, but it quickly leads to overwhelm.
Margin time between tasks and in a large block during your day will help you finish your tasks and have time to take a much-needed break.
I love using time blocking to be more productive as a stay-at-home mom. By using blocks of time to list your appointments, accomplish your goals, prioritize your to-do list, and account for margin time, your day will be much smoother!