Time Blocking for Stress and Time Management

A strategy that I often recommend for stress and time management for my clients, and use myself, is time blocking.  Sometimes I create my own stress by being guilty of “one-more-thing-it is”.  Thinking that I have time to do one more thing before I leave the house means that I’m often panting as I race out the door. The solution is to divide my time into blocks to organize my day.

Here’s an example of a typical day:

  • a trip into town for a doctor’s appointment,
  • followed by a quick drive back to my house to throw casseroles into the oven to heat for a luncheon my daughter was giving 30 miles away (yes, I did cheat by raising the oven temp higher than required),
  • then I made the trip to the luncheon, helped my daughter serve the food, and collapsed in a chair to enjoy what I must say was a delicious meal.

If I hadn’t time-blocked on paper my needs for the day, I would have never been able to meet these deadlines!

In the ADHD Time Management class I taught recently, this was an “AHA!” moment for several – learning to time-block what it will take to get out of the house in the morning.

Stress management is a part of most work days. Today I watched the horses roll outside the window of my country office. And I was able to breathe and relieve some stress.

When speaking to a group of high stress medical professionals, I reminded them that 60 to 90% of visits to the doctor are stress-related. A workable solution? Short breaks to be used for deep breathing. This brief break can change your perspective – mental and physical!

Look at a photo of people you love, imagine a paradise vacation, or, in my case, watch the horses rolling in the field…and breathe!

Organizing Tip 1: Use time blocks to schedule your day.

Organizing Tip 2:  Write out the time blocks on paper.

Organizing Tip 3: Schedule in time to breath and de-stress.

Check my website for more strategies for stress and time management.

Creating Uninterrupted Focus Time Pays Off

Getting individuals to set aside uninterrupted Focus Time is like pulling teeth, but when they do set the time aside, they find the greatest relief.

Are you tired of staying late to accomplish your work or coming in early on Saturday because you are behind?

I know your days are full and you don’t have a minute to spare, but are you open to trying something different?

Do you work best focused for long periods on one project or do you prefer variety in your day?

It was eye-opening for one coaching client to realize that she worked best when focused on one project, not moving from one thing to another. It made a tremendous difference in her time management and productivity.

Another client worked best and stayed motivated by switching tasks but still worked best in blocks of time.

Creating Focus Time is a way to get projects done, finished, eliminated! To do this, you need solid blocks of time. I’m not talking about being unavailable to clients, coworkers or family for hours, but can you schedule a single uninterrupted hour to focus on a project?

It has been said that if we create Focus Time, without distractions from our phone or e-mail alert, we can get four times the amount of work done than if we allow interruptions. This may mean putting a sign on our door that says, “Working on a project. I will be available at 11:00.”

Put this topic on the agenda for your next office meeting. Discuss how each person can get Focus Time. Could two individuals swap time to cover each other’s phone calls? Maybe it would be a good idea to close your door and put a note on it. Remind everyone to respect each other’s Focus Time. Unless smoke is coming out of the air vent, don’t interrupt each other. It takes 20 minutes to wrap our mind around detailed projects and an interruption puts a person back at square one.

Here are some guidelines to help you can get more Focus Time:

– Select a time each day in which to focus, realizing that some days this may need to be flexible.
– Who do you need to communicate with about this time?
– How will you remind others not to interrupt? (examples: by e-mail, a sign on your door, or verbally at staff meetings)
– What will you need to turn to turn off phone or e-mail alert? Do you need to redirect your phone calls?

Think about this: You can get done in 10 minutes of Focus Time what might take you 40 minutes with interruptions. An hour of focus on a task or project allows you to maximize your productivity, move forward and complete projects. This will have a tremendous impact on eliminating Mind Clutter and shortening your work day.

Snow Day – No Car Day!

What did you do on your snow day? If you don’t live in East Tennessee you may be saying, “What snow day?”  We can wake up to several inches of snow. Really, it is nice being home, feeling good and not having a choice to leave.  It is also a great opportunity for a Snow Day Organizing project!

One of my clients with young children says she tries to plan “No Car Days.” That would probably do a lot to reduce our stress as adults if we did that regularly. This area of the country isn’t equipped like the North to clean the roads quickly, and with our hills, mountains and curvy roads, it is smarter to stay home.

On one snow day, I slept in, fixed pancakes for breakfast and then conquered a project on my list – dug through, cleaned out and organized (putting like items together) several drawers of tablecloths and stuff like that.

I did drag my daughter in to show her which ones were family pieces, so in case I croak someone would know where the older ones came from. Maybe I should practice what I preach and label them with their history.

Don’t ask me why they were in these drawers, but at the bottom were several board games, such as Mother Goose. They will stay out because shortly my 3-year old granddaughter will be ready to play them. That is fun to think about!

In the afternoon, I read a book and relaxed. Tomorrow I plan to try a recipe I dug out that I used to make as a teenager, Spanish Cream. Now, if you have looked at my picture on the website, you will realize that that wasn’t yesterday. I wonder if I will even like it, but it will be interesting to see.

I also took a walk in the woods and enjoyed the beautiful snow.

So what do you do on your day at home?

Does Your Time Management Go Out the Window with Stress?

The other day, I had a really good day working with a client rescuing a room in her home. It did involve over 3 hours of drive time, so all in all, it was a long day. To top it off I had a one hour Mastermind Call and a one hour teleseminar, plus email to do. I could have skipped the Mastermind Call or the class, but was determined to plow through.

Well, I paid the price. I got my calendar days mixed up and called a coaching client thinking maybe she had forgotten our call, only to find out I had jumped one day ahead. She did laugh and tell me it
made her feel good to know I make mistakes, too. What do you do when you push yourself too far?

The icing on the cake was when I had a cup full of cat food for my garden cats and a cup of bird food in my hand – you guessed it, I poured the bird food in the cat dish. The look on the cats’ faces immediately had me fixing that!

I made myself sit down, take a deep breath, and think about how pushing myself and getting out of balance creates more problems. It isn’t efficient use of my time, and I do not have to be Wonder Woman.

Another telltale sign that I have pushed myself too far is when I stop hanging up my clothes at
the end of the day for several days. It’s a sign that my self-care is out the window.

Do you have signs that are reminders that you need to slow down? Please leave a comment to share.
We can all learn from each other.

Organizing Tip #1
Cramming too much into your day throws time management out the window and increases stress.
Organizing Tip #2
Look for the personal signs that tell you to slow down and honor them. Rethink your schedule of priorities.
Organizing Tip #3
Self-care allows you to give more to the people around you – at your job, at home, in the community. Put yourself on your priority list…at #1!

Recovery Time

After a great week at the beach enjoying surf, sand and shrimp with family, I came home to
computer problems. Talk about coming back to the real world with a reality jolt. Immediately
having a speech to give and a class to teach just added to the pressure. A few other issues
needed to be resolved such as office phone problems. I realized, instead of plowing ahead, I
needed to pull back and allow myself some recovery time.

Here is what helped. I stopped and got my house in order – everything from the trip put away.
Then I did the same with my office. I had done a presentation and some marketing while on
vacation – that material all needed disassembling plus there was email to catch up on.
Working some when at the beach isn’t really work to me, because I look at it as marketing
which may create other opportunities to work and be able to walk the beach.

I realized this idea of having recovery time might be useful to others when I was talking to a
coaching client who had had several “life items” that made her get behind. We discussed what
she needed to do for recovery to take the pressure off.

What do you do for recovery? If you are feeling stressed, is this something you need to think
about? Often when we get behind, it isn’t inefficiency but “life items” that are soaking up time,
and that is okay. Stop and identify where your time has gone.

Hopefully you will smile because you’ve been having some fun. Then think about what is most important to do to get back on track. Make a recovery plan.

Summer Is Meant to be Enjoyed

Is this the right time to do organizing projects?

Questions to ask yourself:
• While my children home, do I want to spend time with them?
• Do I have company coming to stay?
• Isn’t summer my time to take a vacation, relax, and enjoy the outdoors?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, maybe it would be better to scratch organizing projects off your
To-Do List and put them on your calendar for fall. Sometimes telling yourself “I am just going to work on maintaining the house” is more realistic and takes the pressure off so you can enjoy the summer.

If you do have a project that you really want to get done so you can mark it off your list, give us
a call – we can help you do it quickly so summer can still be yours to enjoy.

Working with us takes the overwhelming out of projects!