time block grid by kind of day, not day of week

continual refinement to building blocks of time

Kaizen are interesting creatures in my life. (Don’t you anthropomorphize your systems?) Sometimes their minute adjustments to my process don’t appear earth shattering. Other revisions create such a huge boost I wonder why I hadn’t made the change years before.

One area where I’ve struggled to have everything fall into place is a surprising one, my time blocks! While I love them, I found each week I was trying something different because they weren’t helping me as they once had.

It was an unrelated comment by my accountability partner last week that lead to this new moment of clarity.

The faulty time block system

For years I’ve continued to create the same types of time blocks, driven by the day of the week. They worked wonderful when I needed to work at an office on certain days and times, crafting the rest of my week around that obligation. My schedule hasn’t needed those stiff constraints for a while, yet I continued to think “on Thursday I’ll do x,y,z…”

The suggestion

What did my accountability partner mention? That she has types of days, is she writing at the library in the morning, teaching in the afternoon? Is a deadline of a specific type looming and she needs to give that priority over other projects?

The solution

Ah hah! It was a lightbulb moment. I’ve now tossed out the concept of the week–apart from Friday afternoons. This week I began to plan my time blocks around the type of days I expect. Instead of expressing frustration that it’s Thursday and I need to do an evening pickup at the airport, I can build that requirement into my time blocks. Maybe it’s a train station “taxi” run on a Tuesday night, both create similar disruptions. Each morning as I work on my daily planning, I review the type of day I expect and start filling in details as appropriate. Now, if my day type changes at any point, I found that I can move around the blocks and pick up and keep going. Why? I am no longer bound by the arbitrary label constraints of the calendar!

I am surprised by the degree I enjoy using a laminated planning grid. It’s messy and beautiful. It changes as I identify the handful of kinds days I encounter. This simple grid is invaluable at helping me visualize the ebb and flow of each type of day.

It feels remarkable to be working in concert with time blocks again instead of struggling.