Timeblocking: Visual Day Planning

Week Plan

Week Plan

Often times I’m inundated with things to do, a theme I’m sure is common with people who like to live a full and varied life, or a just plain busy.  Sometimes, I’ve got so much going on, I don’t think there would be any way to get it done without planning my weeks in advance.  Ever since my college days, I’ve found that I always seem to get more done when I set a schedule for myself.  It gives me something to strive for, and something to stick to.  It’s a promise I make to myself, and a rubric with which to measure how well I’ve stuck to my promises.

ANNNNNNNNDDDD…

It’s really simple!

What you need:

  1. Weekly calendar (you can print one out from outlook or ical)
  2. Highlighters (as many as necessary for your uses.)
  3. Pen

I know, it’s a lot.

What I like to do is, every Sunday night I print out a calendar of the upcoming week.  Then I create blocks of time on that calendar for that which I plan to accomplish during the upcoming week.  Color coding the time blocks according to how they are spent helps me to stay on task and stay productive.  After all, time is THE most precious resource we have in our lifetimes, so I want to be sure I’m using it wisely and not just wasting my days away doing something with a low return on the time I invest (ROI).

I have four categories:

  1. Necessities – these are things I prioritize because if I don’t, other things eventually can’t get done.  Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, car maintenance, etc.
  2. Personal Development – these are things that add to my overall quality of life and involve learning or improving in some manner, such as working out, snowboarding, playing guitar, skydiving, or reading.  In short, this is time well spent.
  3. Productivity – these are things that work towards advancement and improvement of my life in areas such as work endeavors, finance, education, etc.
  4. Leisure – this is free time that I earn for doing things I consider wasteful, or otherwise have a low ROI.  Although they may be enjoyable, they don’t do much for the long term.  Still it’s good to have time that you can spend for just vegging out, or bumming around, just as long as it’s proportioned well.  Things included here are watching TV, movies, partying, dates or hanging out with friends.

Sometimes I’m very specific on my calendar.  Sometimes I just want to make sure I have set aside time for a certain category.  Whatever reason for me filling out my day planner, I keep these two points in mind:

  • Be Realistic – don’t try to overcrowd your schedule or put unrealistic constraints on how much time you need to get things done.  Just because you want to finish something in an hour doesn’t mean it’s possible.  You may just end up more unfocused.  Don’t forget to allow time for downtime – transportation time, transition/set up time, etc.
  • Be Flexible – it’s on paper, not set in stone.  Be flexible, sometimes you have to leave open slots or move things around, that’s just life!  I like to have a couple of crowded days, and one or two days with free time to pick up the things that just cropped up, or I just forgot about.

Once I have my week plan made up, I just fold it up and keep it in my pocket.  Doing this, I find that I am more productive during the week, and I am more focused when I have an allotment of time in which to finish something.  It’s almost like creating a challenge for myself.

So that’s it.  I like to have my week plan done every Sunday night.  Paired with a task list, it really helps me get things done.

I want to hear from you

Let me know if you do something similar!  If not, try this for a week or two, and let me know what you think.

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