Blocking, Batching, & Breaking Bad (habits, that is)

It’s all about pre-dawn productivity in my life these days, which you’ll know if you read my last post.

For the first time, I have been viewing moonsets and sunrises as a regular thing. Did you know that sunrises are gloriously flamingo-hued after a snowstorm?

winter-sunrise 2080070_1920

But I digress. While I do take time to appreciate the view outside my window each morning, I try to use the early hours as efficiently as possible. For me, that involves both calendar blocking and project batching.

Calendar blocking is simply creating a time slot on a calendar for every item on one’s to-do list. And for me, that truly includes everything, even things that I do every day.

That approach works for me on several levels. First, adding daily activities such as having my devotions and working out ensures that they will get gone.

If it’s on the calendar, I don’t procrastinate about it.

Second, seeing all my tasks laid out daily, weekly, and monthly allows me to plan ahead.

Some examples: I have a time slot for one major household chore every day except Sunday. I always write blog posts on Wednesday evenings while my daughter is at dance class. I spend the last Saturday morning of every month meal planning for the next month. I take one day per month to do the bulk of our grocery shopping for that month. Two mornings per month, I pay bills and do detailed household budget work. You get the idea.

As I’m filling my calendar, I prioritize two or three must-achieve goals for the day (beyond the usual daily activities of devotions, exercise, home-schooling, etc.) and schedule those as early as possible in the day to ensure their completion. For me, that often ends up being tasks related to freelance writing work, such as interviews, emails, or research.

While calendar blocking has been a revelation on its own, I’ve really geeked out over task batching. ‘Cause one can never save too much time, you know.

(Remember the I Love Lucy episode called “Lucy’s Schedule”? She just added “extra” hours to her day, which worked in the short term, at least…you Lucy fans know what I’m talking about.)

Back to batching. Batching involves grouping tasks together logically for ultimate efficiency.

For example, I try to write all three blog posts for the week in one sitting. Getting in and staying in my writing groove means I’ll spend less time blogging overall. I also batch daily activities, such as time spent in the kitchen. I find that I’m much more efficient if I knock out the majority of the food prep for the day right after I’ve finished dealing with breakfast.

A point to consider: blocking and batching does take time and forethought in itself. I am watching a whole lot less TV in the evenings these days – which was not a healthy habit anyway.

But I am accomplishing so much more: cooking more for my family, taking better care of myself, and turning focused attention to my Savior every morning.

Do you geek out over efficiency and productivity techniques as I do? Do you have any tips for top productivity? I welcome your insights as always.

Regarding today’s topic, here is a perfectly lovely and appropriate Scripture from the wisdom of Solomon:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
because home wasn't built in a day

15 thoughts on “Blocking, Batching, & Breaking Bad (habits, that is)”

  1. Admirable and inspiring! I have been thinking about your other blog post about early rising. I am attempting the same thing…but it’s hit and miss. Necessary, though, if I plan to ever blog again! 😅

    Thanks for the great ideas. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I knew I wasn’t the only one who schedules, and makes list for everything 🙂 I don’t know about you but crossing something off my list seems like more of an accomplishment than the actual getting it done 🙂 I get teased a bit because when I leave the house I have several lists. One for where I am going, and in the order I’m going, and the list for what is needed at each place I have to go 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, you are my soul sister! I organize my shopping list items in order by aisle, and from the front to back (or side to side) of the store. And it IS very satisfying to do tasks and cross them off my lists. Sometimes I add a task to my to-do list AFTER I’ve already completed it, just so that I can cross it off and see everything I’ve accomplished that day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahahaha I am truly not the only one 🙂 🙂 I was laughing while reading “by the aisle…front to back” thinking, is there any other way to do it. 🙂 When the “grocery list” is being created through out the month, it gets rewritten before the shopping trip to the “by aisle, front to back” format hahaha. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm… I wonder if I could implement the calendar blocking idea? I think I might try it for writing. My biggest challenge is being present for my family when needed. I feel like I’m constantly “on call” and that’s OK! It’s where God has me know and I’m blessed to be able to be there for all of them, hubby included. But it does present challenges knowing my blocks of free time are rarely guaranteed. Today I grabbed some to catch up on some blogs. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree, being “on call” is key. On the one hand, my kids know that when I’m working, they need to let me have that time to work and be as productive as possible during that time (at least an hour a day, usually in the morning while they work on their home school assignments). But they also know that they can interrupt for an emergency or quick question. But especially when I’m in the writing groove doing paid work, I put my earplugs in and push through until the job is complete. For me, that approach leaves me more time later in the day to spend with my family or doing more interruptable tasks, knowing that the work I do for other people is done for that day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a good way to do it. I think this year, I just have too much on my plate to have daily writing time.

        I do think the newest migraine prevention meds are starting to work, so maybe if I can get that element stabilized and get off the meds that add to an already terrible fatigue problem, I’ll be able to be more productive! This morning, I’d planned two hours to quick check the blog and then write, but one of those ended up being a nap…. ha!


  4. Wow, that must be difficult to manage. I’m glad to hear that the migraine meds seem to be helping. (Still praying for you in that area, by the way.) I remember when I was raising two toddlers (my first two are 18 months apart) there was no way that I could have such a strict schedule. I just snatched time while they napped or late at night or anytime my husband could help me, to meet writing deadlines….or I napped as needed! Those naps were miraculously healing! 🙂 And I still try to take at least a short nap on Sunday afternoons. I had no patience for parenting toddlers when I was exhausted, and I’m still fairly useless to my family and with my writing when overtired, so I can understand a little of what you are going through.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s