The Week of Failed Time Blocking
I am a bit of a time-blocking fiend. I start with my to-do list and my Google calendar and “block off” chunks of time in my day. I sync up my personal calendar, work calendar, and shared family calendar to have an overlapping view of meetings and appointments and then fill in everything else on my list. The result is something like a color-coded game of Tetris and making everything fit.
A few weeks ago, as I embarked on a new career that involves writing for a good chunk of the day, I started planning my blocks for the entire week. If I knew that I needed to write an article for Friday, I would block out time on Tuesday and Wednesday to work on it. I thought this careful planning was working well and giving me a good view of what my week would look like.
Until I got behind… with no good way to catch up.
On Tuesday of last week, my 5th grader woke up with a cough. I have to “self-certify” him in the morning via a school app. One of the questions asks, “Does your child have any new symptoms of COVID-19 (including a cough)?” Answering “Yes” the app prompted me to keep him — and his brother — home for the day. I kept the three-year-old home from preschool also.
Both the elementary school and the preschool required “proof” that the cough was not Covid in the form of a negative PCR test. The older two kids spent the morning on Zooms with their classes, but my husband and I had to juggle the 3yo while working.
By early afternoon, I had found a nearby clinic that promised rapid Covid test results. I made an appointment and took my older son. The test was negative, and by the end of the day I had the “all clear” from both the school and preschool for the kids to return. But between not getting into the appointment immediately, waiting for the results, and travel time, about 90 minutes had disappeared from my afternoon.
Then on Thursday of last week, I had my second Covid vaccine. I had planned for this and also planned that I might not feel well after… but getting behind earlier in the week meant that some things on my to-do list had trickled into Friday. And I woke up on Friday with the side effects that many feel after shot #2: achy, low fever, fatigue. I ended up taking two naps during the day and kept the Tylenol flowing.
I realized over the weekend that planning out the blocks for my entire week led to a lot of stress on Friday — compounded by the fact that I was under the weather. I constantly needed to shift my blocks around.
I saw the cascading effect of a less-productive day on Tuesday and then struggled to catch up.
Instead, I need to go back to my “old method” of blocking, which is planning only one day at a time… while still keeping an eye on the big picture for the week. If I stick to one day at a time, I can at least remove the feeling that I am “behind” day after day.
I will also try really hard to keep Fridays light overall and treat this as my catch-up day. Planning in this way serves a dual purpose. If I do have some carry-over from prior days, I know that Friday is available. And if not — yippee! Great way to head into the weekend!