How I Organized My Whole Life

How I Organized My Whole Life

I was getting frustrated. Every month I set goals {and share them with you!} and every month it seemed like I was coming up short in the same areas. I wasn’t reading enough, working out enough, doing my devotions enough, getting enough projects done, etc. I just couldn’t seem to find the time. But I felt like I was constantly busy, so where was all of my time going? Then one day it dawned on me: the problem was that I didn’t have a plan for how I was going to accomplish my goals. I just made them and hoped I’d be able to get around to them “sometime.” I knew that if I wanted to put a dent in my to-do list, I had to make a plan of action.

I had heard of this little thing called “time blocking” before, but I was hesitant to try it. Time blocking is like a to-do list on steroids. Instead of just making a list of everything you’d like to get done in a day, you plan out exactly when you’re going to work on each task. The thought of this was definitely intimidating. I have to plan out every hour of my day? What if something unexpected pops up? What if I mess up the schedule? Then I’ll be even more stressed out about everything!  Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try. I even made a cute little organized sheet because everything is better when it’s pretty. {And I’m sharing it with you as a FREE printable!}

Planning My Day Printable by Just a Girl and Her Blog

{{Click Here for FREE Printable!}

Here’s how I use it: either the night before or first thing in the morning, I start by filling in the “To Do List,” {I break this part down into “Home,” “Blog,” and “Kids” categories} “To Contact,” and “To Buy” sections. Then I look at the time blocking part of the sheet. I enter in any activities we have planned for the day– play dates, swimming lessons, meetings, etc. After those times are blocked off, I schedule the items from my other sections around what we have going on for the day. My end result will look something like this:

Planning My Day by Just a Girl and Her Blog

The key is that everything in your “To Do/Buy/Contact” sections should end up somewhere in your time-blocked schedule. Don’t forget to add in things like getting showered and ready for the day, drive time, meal prep time, etc.

What surprised me about this system was that it gave me so much peace of mind. Previously, I would be in the middle of a task, remember something I had to do, leave task #1 half finished so I can do task #2, maybe get back to task #1 unless I think of a third thing I need to be doing…and so on. Now if I’m doing the dishes and remember that I have to call and schedule a doctor’s appointment, I have it written in on my sheet later in the day, so I know it will be taken care of then. I can complete the task at hand without interruption.

All that being said, do I follow my time blocked schedule to a “T” every day? Almost never. But I’m always able to refer to it to know what I’ll have to sacrifice if I decide to go off course. For example, if I’m in the middle of writing a blog post, but I’m supposed to move on to working out, is it worth it to do a shorter work out so I can finish my post? Or is there a way I can rework a later activity? I am always sure to schedule in some “buffer” time in case a task takes longer than expected. {In the example above, I scheduled a whole hour for breakfast and lunch, but I know it won’t really take that long, so I can use the extra time to make up something if I’ve gotten behind.} Or if I realize I’m not going to be able to complete everything on my list, I can choose which item(s) can wait until the next day.

Since I’ve started time blocking, I feel like I’m getting way more accomplished. I’m not tempted to linger as long on social media because I know I only have a set amount of time to finish a task. I don’t run aimlessly from thing to thing since I have each item scheduled into my day. It’s all about working smarter, not harder!

I know everyone’s brains work differently and an organizational system that works perfectly for one person may be a bust for someone else. If you haven’t tried time blocking yet, though, I would encourage you to give it a try and see if you feel more productive. I know it has made a world of difference for me!

Looking for more motivation to get organized? Check out these past organizational posts:

Let's Get Organized Posts by Just a Girl and Her Blog

1. Create a Command Center

2. Organize Kids’ Craft Supplies

3. Easily Organize Cleaning Supplies

4. Streamline a Small Kitchen

5. FREE Printables- An Organized Shopping List

6. $0 Bathroom Cabinet Organization

7. An Organized Linen Closet

8. Mani/Pedi Organization

Pssssstttt… In case you missed it, right now I’m offering a FREE PDF to all of my newsletter subscribers with detailed screenshots and instructions on how to create your own adorable printables! If you already subscribe to our newsletter, you should have received this information already, so check your email! If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so here! {PDF is sent within an hour of subscribing. :) }

What tips do you have for organizing your time? Has time blocking worked for you?

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Comments

  1. Susan says

    I’m going to try your idea! I feel like I’m not getting anything accomplished this summer and I could use time management help. Thank you for sharing.

    • says

      Thanks, Jessi! Good for you! My hubby has been doing it for a while {not with a cute printable, so probably not nearly as effective ;)} and swears by it, so I decided to join in and I love it! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  2. says

    Hi Abby – I heart organization! And I love making lists too. Is it me or does anyone else when they do something NOT on the list… add it to the list just to cross it off???? Hugs, Holly

    • says

      I totally do that! And sometimes I initiate list-making because I’ve done some things I want to cross off, lol! List makers of the world unite! ;) Thanks so much for stopping by, Holly! Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

    • says

      Thanks so much for the invite, Carrie! I linked up! Let me know how you like time blocking if you decide to try it. Have a great week, friend!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Kim says

    I really do like this idea, I’m one of those who flit from task to task without really finishing the first one! And also, guilty of being online way too much to get things done. Thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    I loved your line when you admitted that you hardly ever follow your daily time line (keepin it real, right?!) but that it still helps to keep you focused and feeling like you accomplish more than when you didn’t do this! Very smart idea, girlie!! Have a great week!~~Ang

  5. says

    I love this! I used to get so much accomplished when I used to write everything down that I had to do that day (not sure why I move away from this). Thinking I’m going to have to start doing this again.
    Thanks for the push and the printable

  6. says

    LOVE This idea! Thanks for the free printable and the idea on how to utilize it. I’ve been having the same problems with time management, especially this summer. Can’t wait to try it out!

  7. Cathy says

    Hi,
    Great post and many thanks for the printable!
    I’m a flit-here-and-there person. Nothing completely finished. I’d heard about something else as well. Time youself. Set up the oven timer or a baking timer even an alarm clock. When the alarm goes you jump two feet into the air and then your concentration is gone. Makes it easier to leave the task you’re working on. You may not be finished with that task but you’ve certainly made inroads. I would need the alarm as I’m an expert at, “Just another five minutes!”
    Hope this will also help for you.
    Cathy

    • says

      Love that idea, Cathy! I always time my kids to try to get them to pick up faster, but I never thought to time myself! :) Thanks so much for sharing–have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  8. says

    What a great idea – it really is necessary to keep all of your ducks in a row – I had to make one to keep my house/laundry in order and it helped tremendously, but this takes it an extra step. I will have to try this! Thanks for sharing – I’m your newest follower! Hope you will drop by and follow me too!
    Chris {aka Freckle Face Girl}
    Chris recently posted…DIY Free Artwork {Restoration Hardware Inspired}My Profile

  9. says

    This makes so much sense, Abby! I fit to a T your description of someone who can’t finish one task before becoming distracted by/moving on to the next thing. Maybe time blocking is the answer…though I’m pretty sure my husband will think I’ve gone off the deep end if he sees my day scheduled out by the hour! ;)

    • says

      Lol! My hubby has actually been doing it way longer than me {not with a cute printable, though, so probably not nearly as effective ;)}, so he can’t call me crazy for this one. {Though he does for many other things, haha!} Hope you’re having a wonderful week, Samantha!

      ~Abby =)

  10. says

    Great strategy Abby! I think the good think about it would be that you could keep yourself accountable for ‘ending’ tasks that can just stretch on and on (like blog stuff can) if you have other tasks blocked ‘in’… some things are never ending and if you are like me and want to ‘finish’ you can get carried away and leave out other important things!! I might just have to give it a try!!
    Krista thehappyhousie recently posted…Super Crazy Easy Fast Ten-Minute One-Piece Envelope Pillow CoversMy Profile

    • says

      That is so true! I could work on blog stuff 24/7 and still not feel “done,” so this helps with that for sure. Also reading…I’m always thinking, “Just one more chapter!!” :) Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  11. says

    Saw you on BFOL linkup. I’ve been time blocking for a while now and I love it. Even if I dont’ finish a task, it feels good to say I at least gave it 45 minutes of my time. The things I don’t finish today, I immediately put in the next days list so they don’t get forgotten. Another thing I do is break down big tasks by day. For example, tending the yardwork, I have one section assigned each day. Front yard on Monday, side of house on Tuesday, etc. So I’m not spending hours and hours in the yard, yet by the end of the week, it’s all gotten done. Hope the method works for you!
    Jill recently posted…No Frilly DressesMy Profile

    • says

      I love your take on time blocking, Jill! Thanks for sharing how it works for you! I’m so glad you popped by from BFOL. Have a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

  12. says

    Hi Abby! I just wanted to say THANKS! I printed this out and tried it for my workday / home chores and it has been so successful!! I was always finding myself writing a list, but adding the block of time in which to complete that task is genius! Thanks for helping me “cross off” a better way to get things done!
    Cheryl @ My Cup Runneth Over recently posted…WATERMELON OREO POKE CUPCAKESMy Profile

  13. says

    What a great idea. Since I have started my blog I have noticed I get distracted very easily as well. I will be trying this I know it won’t hurt any. I really like your printable as well. I can completely understand how frustrating it is to make the goals and not get much accomplished because there is no direction in place hope this helps me as much as it has helped you.

    • says

      You are so right, Christy–for some reason writing it down seems to have magical powers to make things happen, lol! Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

  14. says

    Wow! I love that printable! I’m going to pin it so I can print a copy off later! Great idea, and thanks so much for sharing- I know I need a little motivation these days to stay organized!

  15. says

    I’m so glad you posted this…I am going to try it! I am getting increasingly frustrated with how little I seem to accomplish…and there really is no need for it. Working smarter, not harder…I need to learn that! I will be trying this method to see if it will work for me.

    I found you via a linky party – don’t remember which one, lol! – but I am now following you via bloglovin’! I’m excited to browse through your other posts! =)
    Nicole recently posted…A few Goals for the Week, July 16, 2013My Profile

  16. says

    I kind of do this; if the kids give me five seconds I look at my to-do list and try to cross something off. Works pretty well for me! Though I do tend to leave unfun things like sorting the papers on the kitchen counter till last…so they never get done….
    femmefrugality recently posted…Disney Travel on a BudgetMy Profile

    • says

      The kids giving you 5 minutes thing is key. Doesn’t always happen around here either, but we make it work! I also leave the unfun things until last. I’ve started trying to suck it up and do something not so fun first thing in the morning and that helps when I actually stick to it! Hope you’re having a great day, friend!

      ~Abby =)

    • says

      I hear ya! Lists are definitely key for me too. Otherwise I tend to wander around from thing to thing too much. Hope you’re having a great week, Heidi!

      ~Abby =)

  17. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this cute printable!! I am always looking for new ways to organize my life and this is perfect!! I’m your newest follower. Thanks for again!

  18. says

    Great idea! I SO need to do this. With a 14 month old baby in the house, it is way too easy to get distracted with a million different things and then at the end of the day it seems I have gotten nothing accomplished! Thanks for the tip…I am going to try it out! :)

    • says

      Thanks, Jessica! The toddler years are rough on productivity! My two year old is still making life interesting in that area, lol! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  19. Connie says

    Could someone PLEASE help me print the adorable printable? I really want to try time blocking and of course want to use this printable. I can’t figure out how to print from Pinterest on my iPad and when I try on my computer it shuts down Internet explorer. Thanks!

  20. says

    Great ideas here! I actually use this system at work. I write out a to do list and I block out time to work on each task/project on my outlook calendar. I often fill out the whole week so I can understand how busy or not busy I am. This way I can either ask for more work or let people know I have a ton to do when they want to give me more. It also helps me fill out my time card at the end of the week.

    Sounds like this system is working for you, since you were super successful with your goals this month. And cute printable! Keep it up!
    Bethany the ngnrdgrl recently posted…July Recap and August GoalsMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you, friend! I would think that engineers would be totally on top of the time blocking thing. I am married to the son of an engineer who is a chip off the old block and he swears by time blocking too! Have a wonderful weekend, Bethany!

      ~Abby =)

  21. lyndsey says

    Wow!! I just popped over from I Heart Organizing’s link party and I am loving your blog already!! Time management is soo important yet can be so difficult! I have tried time blocking before but it makes me anxious/overwhelmed. I love the way your printable is organized and will definitely give it a try, thanks so much for sharing!

    • says

      Thanks for hopping over from I Heart Organizing, Lyndsey! I always thought time blocking would make me anxious, too, but for some reason it puts me at ease knowing that I have a plan for executing my to-do list! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

    • says

      Ooh just when I thought I had covered all of the bases with graphics tutorials, this is a great idea for another one! I will have to put one together sometime, and I’ll let you know when I do! Thanks, Gina!

      ~Abby =)

  22. says

    Okay, so after seeing this printable IN ACTION at FL BLOG CON ’13 with my buddy Brianne, I’m here to print some copies off for myself! I’m just feeling overwhelmed with my daily tasks and finding I’m not as productive as I could be…so I think breaking my day down into hourly increments is exactly what I need. Thanks for being so generous and sharing this with us fo’ free! Me and my scatter-brained self thank you!
    Lauren @ The Thinking Closet recently posted…“Happy Fall” Banner TutorialMy Profile

    • says

      Yay!! Hope you find it helpful, friend! Sometimes blogland really does feel so small with all of the connections that we make! Love that! Hope you’re having a great day!

      ~Abby =)

  23. says

    A friend just sent me your page, thank you for posting this! I’m normally very good at planning my time and achieving my goals (good old German stereotypes kicking in), but recently I’ve had some trouble getting motivated for university things etc. So I’m giving this a try this week to see if it works for me, it looks like a great idea – kind of a condensed version of what I normally do on different sheets of paper anyway ;)

  24. Diane says

    Talk about serendipity. I was just thinking about allocating my daily “things to do” lists with actual times throughout the day and then just happened upon this posting. Thanks-can’t wait to try it. btw I also read your post about your story re: breast cancer. I feel for you, that someone so young must deal with this. Best to you and your family

  25. Lisa says

    Just read one of your posts as a guest on another site, then I stumbled into your blog post on organizing your day. I am enjoying all of the easy to follow, wise directions. Thanks

  26. Julia says

    I’m so happy I found your blog! It’s helping me a lot to organize my life! Also, I loved the tutorial on how to create my own printables that I received in your Newsletter! Thank you so much for sharing it!

    xx
    Julia

  27. Shelley says

    I’ve been doing makeshift time blocking for a long time, just making lists everyday of what I’m going to do when, but I like the idea of having it organized like this. Question of logistics – do you print a new sheet everyday or do you have a gazillion printed already? Have you thought about doing it digitally somehow? I feel like I waste so much paper on these lists!

    • says

      Hi, Shelley! Thanks so much for visiting my blog! I usually print a bunch at a time and keep them in a binder and grab them when I need them. I hear you on the paper thing! I have tried digital lists (I’m currently trying to train myself to use Wunderlist), but I always seem to come back to paper! Call me old fashioned! :) Hope you have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  28. Dana says

    I just discovered your blog about a month ago and have been using your Goal charts for kids for the past three weeks for my 8 year old boys- and our morning and nighttime routines have been streamlined because of it. Less nagging and yelling on my part and a great sense of accomplishment for the kids when they get to cross things off. This has been working so well I thought I needed something similar because I have great intentions every morning but tend to go from one half finshed task to the next and by the end of the day feel like I’ve wasted half my day. So, all that to say, I’m so thankful I discovered your blog and I’m so grateful for your organizational wisdom (which does not come naturally to me!) and your willingness to share what works for you via these free printables. Many thanks!! =)

    • says

      Dana! Your sweet comment totally made my day! Thank you so much! I’m so glad your boys are liking the goal charts. And girl, you totally just described me. I am the queen of leaving something half finished and moving on to something else. That’s why I make so many printables– to keep myself in line, lol! Thanks so much for visiting my blog! Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

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