So this past year for me has been all about learning ALL THE productivity secrets. With a full-time job and this side-project Life by Whitney, I have a lot that I need to get done, and sometimes it can get overwhelming.

I try to manage my time the best I can, but it’s impossible if I don’t set aside time to plan!

After reading several books on the subject, I’ve picked up some themes that keep me productive. The key is to PLAN time to PLAN!

So guess what?

I created a free Time Block printable PDF (and spreadsheet) for you to download, to help you Timeblock your own schedule! 

it will make you super productive 😀

Each week, I try to set aside some time (typically Sunday evening) to plan my week. The first and most important step is to sit down with a pen and paper and write down EVERY single thing that’s on your mind.

This could be as simple as “pay my phone bill” or bigger things like “plan my kid’s birthday party” or “clean out the garage.” Let your mind flow freely with little or no distraction and write down any and every idea that comes to mind.

I try to take at least 30 minutes to write down each and every thing that I NEED (or want) to do.

I incorporate this process into a few of my weekly spreads, and like to call it “Every Single Thing.” It’s basically just a big blank space for brainstorming.

Use the top half for random ideas, to-do’s and project work ideas. Use the bottom half for specific day scheduling.

It will keep you organized.

The Process

When it comes to brainstorming, I usually start with a full sheet of paper, BUT sometimes I  can’t help myself and I use a full white board instead (I call them my board meetings 🤣)!

Check out the white board video.

Anyways, my typical paper sheeet process goes like this:
 

  • Grab a full sheet or pad of blank paper (I use Whitelines Graph paper).
  • Turn it horizontally (landscape).
  • Use the TOP half for any and all brainstorming.
  • On the bottom half, write the next 7-10 days out in one row, so there’s space below each day to write in to-dos. (See the pic above to see what I’m talking about). Include a “Future” section for non-pressing things.
  • FILL ‘ER OUT!

In the top half, I’ll write anything and everything that’s on my mind. If I have set appointments or any sort of scheduled activity, I’ll write it under the specific date.

This is meant to be a very rough copy of all of your to-do’s. I’ll typically come up with new and different ideas when I’m going through this process.

Once I’m completely finished (although it’s never really completely finished), I’ll start assigning those tasks from the top half to the days in the bottom half.

There’s no need to write times down yet unless they’re already set times. You can simplify this by numbering the tasks in the top section, then adding the corresponding numbers underneath each day below.

Once I’ve got everything I SHOULD do written down, I’m ready to actually FIND THE TIME to complete the tasks! This is where time-blocking comes in.

This is one of the most prevalent themes in ALL productivity books I’ve seen. If you haven’t heard of it before, this is crucial! SET APPOINTMENTS WITH YOURSELF TO GET THINGS DONE!

Your tasks, to-do’s, and should-do’s are important so you need to find this time for yourself if you want to get ahead.

It IS possible, but you’ve GOT to plan for it.

It will keep you organized.

Find the Time

Lay out your typical week. I list times down the left-hand side, and write my days across the top margin.

Optionally add a grid so you can actually see the hours in ‘block’ format. Write down your scheduled time that’s untouchable — include work, kids, commuting, appointments, etc.

These are times you can’t change and are typically the same each week. I’ve actually made a sheet that’s pre-filled with my typical week, and I can clearly see my “free” time for the week.

 

If you’d rather print out the week, I’ve made a ‘blank-week’ template for printing & filling in in my shop HERE.

Print out your week and evaluate your used time and your free time. Make sure you schedule down-time! I keep my evenings open for “relaxation, creating, or research” — this leaves me flexible so I’m not FULLY scheduled each and every hour of the entire week.

I realize I’m gone from home about 50 hours per week for work, but I still have time to fit in and schedule work for my blog, relaxation, and other hobbies.

Once you have your typical week laid out, you should be able to see when you have free open time.

This is where you can set those appointments with yourself [time-block] to get your tasks finished.

Start adding in your most important tasks from your Brain Dump sheet into your open time blocks, and fill in what you need to get done this week. Some tasks may not be as important and won’t get done this week, but make sure to write them in a “future” section.

It will keep you organized.

Just Do It

Now it’s up to YOU to complete what you need to and WHEN you need to.

Make sure to not schedule every single hour of every single day – this WILL get overwhelming and you will burn out soon.

Instead, just give yourself enough time to finish what you need to and even schedule an “overflow time” – time set aside for when a project may go over the time you set for it.

Make it a Habit

Once your week is finished, set time to evaluate what you’ve accomplished.

Now’s the time to reschedule what you didn’t end up finishing and ask yourself why.

It definitely happens, so don’t let it get you down, just make sure to include it in your next week’s schedule. Repeat the brain-dump, set your schedule, and impress yourself!

You can set & reach your goals with enough determination and a good plan! 💪

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