December 15, 2022

I have been extremely productive today. I ran early, Josh took the kids to school, and then I finished up a slew of BLPA/pod/patreon related tasks. Yay!

I am slowly getting used to this whole part-time working for myself thing. It’s actually not that different than my PD role in that it’s quite a bit of ‘project’ type work, where no one (except me?) is micromanaging the steps.

And by the way? I have concluded that I am not typically someone who micromanages any steps regardless. I think this is why I don’t really do time block planning in the way that Cal Newport suggests. I 100% see how it makes sense for many and am intrigued at the possibility of giving every minute a job (just like my precious YNAB, but for time!). BUT: I just don’t want that level of detail to dictate how I spend my more open blocks of time. I’d rather have a list for the day (tailored to how much open time I expect to have) and then just move through more holistically.

This might come as a surprise to some. But I do tend to pay attention to a) the next step in any project (including any bottlenecks) and b) deadlines. And then I work accordingly. I do not like to work to the last minute, but a small sense of urgency — like the feeling that if I do leave things too far, they WILL become stressful — can be helpful.

And this is why today has been super productive and it’s only 11:32 AM! I may need a nap by 3 pm, but it will have been worth it!

Do you time block plan? What is your most productive time of day? I personally have figured out that 8:30a – 11:30a is really my sweet spot. I should always save the afternoon for more mindless stuff!

open space + deadlines –> checked off boxes


  • Reply SMG December 15, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    I’m trying to move from exceptionally time blocked time that left me always feeling like a failure to a bit more of a general list of manageable things to do in a day. I used to plan every minute and have 6-10 non work things on my list beyond my usual habits and routines. Talking to my partner about this has really helped a) we are a team but he doesn’t always know the household jobs I want to do beyond the maintenance/regular chores b) having fewer aims and planning in rest time is leaving me feeling happier and calmer and still getting everything done.

    But, I’ve not nailed the weekly review, or at least it hasn’t become a default habit yet so when it doesn’t happen then I feel stressed without minute by minute timeblocking. So the aim is habitualise the sunday review including ny partner in it (friday for work is a no brainer) and then the more goal oriented managing of time and tasks will hopefully flow more seamlessly!

    Fingers crossed anyway!

  • Reply Eva Lantsoght December 15, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    I use some form of timeblocking as a professor. Essentially before the start of every semester, I make my weekly template in which I lay out my teaching hours, office hours, time to prepare teaching and grading, writing time, research time, admin time, journal editor task time, technical committee task time, email responding time, recurring meetings with graduate and undergraduate students, recurring meetings of research collaborations, and recurring parts of the week that get blocked off so nobody shoots in appointments in those time slots. This may sound convoluted, but when I get a task request coming in, I can add this to the designated timeslot or tell the person right away that I don’t have the capacity to do so (in the next X months, or never).

    • Reply Coree December 16, 2022 at 5:47 am

      Oh that’s really smart! I block out teaching time, and only let students meet with me on Monday or Tuesday, but I don’t do a great job blocking out time otherwise. A New Year’s resolution perhaps. Partially this is related to a variable travel schedule and partially related to a department that is light on meetings but also light on notice for meetings. Plus random kid stuff, etc.

  • Reply Allison Cunningham December 15, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    I believe on no stupid questions last week Angela said 11 and 3 was the “average.” I can totally see how that happens because many days I look up and it is after 12:30 or 5pm and I have been in “the zone.” At least for focused work that is my sweet spot. For knocking out quick wins I would say from 7:30-9am.

  • Reply Katie December 15, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    I know you don’t have Instagram, but Dr. Karin Nordin talks about the spectrum of planning and would be an awesome guest on your podcast! She has her PhD in behavior change and now runs her own coaching company.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 15, 2022 at 3:40 pm

      Ooh very interesting!

  • Reply Grateful Kae December 15, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    I go in spurts with time blocking, though I do find it very helpful when I do it! I mostly find it helpful for structuring my work breaks and other things I need to fit in- I don’t have to time block exact work tasks exactly due to the nature of my job. But I find when I time block, I am much better about just working when I’m supposed to be working and just doing non-work things when it’s non-work time. It creates some clearer boundaries, versus the temptation to quick check email or take care of a random task like signing the kids up for something, etc. in the middle of the day. This is more of an issue since I work from home and have flexibility- obviously if you’re taking care of patients this is a non-issue. But a quick “2 minute task” sometimes ends up taking longer than expected, and before I know it, my whole morning could end up derailed. If I know exactly when I have a specific break available to do those kinds of things, I find my blocks labeled “work” are much more productive. AND I find I’m more likely to actually fit in walks or some other specific task I want to do if I have created a time slot for it and added it to my time block calendar for that day. Obviously a majority of my day is spent just doing these “work” blocks, but I will schedule in 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there, etc. for breaks strategically and actually designate what I will do in that break.

  • Reply Alyce December 15, 2022 at 11:48 pm

    The rebel in me rejects time block planning. Every time I try, I wind up blatantly ignoring whatever I had planned to accomplish during the specific time block.

  • Reply Jami H December 19, 2022 at 8:31 am

    I would say I sort of use time blocking in my work life. My job includes a mixture of day-to-day management, higher level projects, and lots of meetings in an academic setting. Once the semester settles I try organize my day so that I can spend at least an hour in the morning on my most focused work (when I am most focused), the middle of the day for meetings, and then smaller tasks and more administrative functions for the afternoon once my brain is fried.

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