5 Things You Should Start Blocking Out Time For In Your Calendar
The keys to not slaving away scheduling individual tasks
There’s one thing that I’m always nervous about when I open a certain application on my laptop or phone. It’s the one the makes people the most uncomfortable, surprised, and confused. It’s the one that makes me appear the most neurotic, Type-A, and intense — it’s my calendar.
“If it weren’t for the last minute, a lot of things wouldn’t get done.” — Michael S. Traylor
Ever since my sophomore year of high school I’ve been a pretty strenuous scheduler. I haven’t always done it well, but since I’ve figured out how to use it best, it helps me automate my time table, make time for what I want to most, and keep track of everything going on in my life.
Honestly, it’s kind of magical, allowing me to do project after project, event after event, and job after job without losing track of what I have up next.However, having a calendar so meticulously kept up often confuses people. And I think that comes down to one simple idea — I create my own calendar. And it isn’t inflexible.
“You should run your life not by the calendar but how you feel, and what you’re interests are and ambitions.” — John Glenn
If I want to make a change, that’s my prerogative, and can do so easily within the confines of the flexible GoogleCalendar app. It also allows me to make time for things that are important to me, and things I might not get to, or remember to do otherwise. Here are five things I try and schedule often that have ultimately transformed my life:
1 || Tinkering time
Tinkering time is something that you might be unfamiliar with, and remarkably opposed to implementing into your daily schedule. I used to be this way as well, thinking that time to “have fun” and “be adventurous” could not be something implemented as a striving productivity guru of sorts. However, since discovering most of my favorite projects during unintentional tinkering time, I can’t help but think it to be a good idea to purposefully bring it into your life.
But what is it exactly?
Tinkering time is your diffused thinking time, as Barbara Oakley, author of A Mind For Numbers, might but it. It’s when you mess around or play with things without a particular aim. This could be researching something for fun, working on a project that you’re not getting paid for, pursuing some sort of hobby in a new way, or anything along those lines.
Tinkering projects are those that have the potential to become real and profitable projects, but there’s no pressure on them to become so.
“Use your mind to think about things, rather than think of them. You want to be adding value as you think about projects and people, not simply reminding yourself they exist.”― David Allen
I think that this is something essential for your schedule not only because of my own experience, though. If you look throughout history, you’ll realize that many amazing inventions, ideas, and companies sprouted out of the tinkering time of their founders. It’s how Edison created his earlier inventions that would eventually allow him to develop later projects, Steve Jobs created Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg created FaceBook.
2 || Organization and life maintenance time
Keeping life together is something that definitely doesn’t happen automatically. It isn’t something that happens easily, or quickly, either. In order for it to be done well, it should be done creatively, sequentially, and with purpose. One of the greatest benefits of scheduling life maintenance time for me is not having to worry about it when it isn’t time.
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.”
When I’m at work, when I’m with my family, when I’m playing with my dogs outside, I don’t have to worry about cleaning my bathroom, or when I need to do laundry next. In my daily routine, I have time set aside to deal with it. I also set reminders for myself to do certain less regular tasks at different times, like doing deep cleans, grocery shopping, and more.
3 || Specific kinds of work
Most people, especially in our form of an economy, do a lot of different kinds of work. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur or have a side hustle, you most likely have several kinds of work you’re involved in on a day to day basis. If you’re anything like me, you probably also do better when those tasks are batched together.
In the Notion dashboard that manages all of my projects, I mark each one with the type of project that it is, which is the first tier of this scheduling system — I know what kinds of work each project falls into. Some are writing projects, others design, others film. Within that, though, there are different kinds of tasks.
“Time is a storm in which we are all lost.” — William Carlos Williams
Using this idea of “specific kinds of work”, I do my best to arrange my calendar with events that mark time for the tasks all associated with writing, outlining, content creation, social media management, email, etc. Instead of attempting to schedule individual tasks, which is time consuming and tedious, I just say “This is the time that I’ll do email”, and then might also work on the writing for my three writing projects in another pre-determined amount of time.
This not only is a great, efficient way to arrange your tasks, but allows you more time to work without being interrupted by changes of scenery, applications, or types of task that can often delay your finished products by longer than you may be realizing.
4 || Time for project-based work sessions
If you know that you need to work on your book/YouTube videos/etc. for a specific time each week, then it might be useful to set aside specific time for those projects. I think that this is especially useful when there’s a project you really want to make time for.
“It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? “ — Henry David Thoreau
I know that writing my novel and working on my documentary project are non-urgent, financially pending projects, which means they don’t get paid attention to if I don’t spend time on them. Scheduling time in my calendar plays a huge part in making that happen.
5 || “Free-time” and other non-work items
I think it’s important to schedule time for self-care, and really any other personal time you know that you’ll need and want. In high school, I used to schedule time for watching NCIS with my family. Now, I don’t set a time table around it as consistently, but I do set aside time to spend with them, as well as time to spend with my younger cousins while I’m away at school living near to them.
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important. “ — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
This also involves giving yourself structure to pursue hobbies; maybe a new instrument, a fitness pursuit of some sort, or a new show you want to start watching. Giving yourself time to do that is the first step in giving yourself permission to take time to do what you love, without anything like money, promotions, or professional advancements at stake.
Check out my eBook, Benjamin Hardy’s Wisdom In 5,000 Words or Less: Article Summaries of Medium’s Top Writer and Literary Motivator, or follow me on LinkedIn here. Have a great day!