How To Use Block Scheduling

If block scheduling sounds like a foreign concept – read on!  I learned about this concept by watching YouTube videos, notably Brittany Vasseur’s Block Schedule System video.  If you have historically lived your days hour by hour, task by task, only to flop onto the couch after an exhausting day and feel like you accomplished next to nothing – I am here to give you hope and direction.  Ever since creating my block schedule, I feel focused, intentional, and inspired. I will share the outline of my block schedule in this post so that you can see how I designed it.

Here’s the gist:  break your days into blocks of time.  Ideally, they would be 3-4 hour blocks.  The theory behind block scheduling is to spend more time working in a block or focus area, rather than jumping from topic to topic.  Schools have started using block scheduling to extend class times, resulting in fewer classes per day, in longer stretches.  Let’s face it – it’s hard to spend 30 minutes on something and then jump into an entirely different activity. 

The time it takes to gear up for a task, get focused, gather supplies, and launch is noteworthy.  I mean, just to sit down and write this blog took mental prep, coffee, and food prep, a bit of dawdling around online, and then finally punching on keys 30 minutes later.  Luckily, I am in this “writing block” for another 2 hours, so I have the time to completely mentally engage in the task and accomplish my goal.

Block Scheduling in practice

You will likely end up with different blocks, or different activities within certain blocks, for different days.  For example, my daughter has daycare four mornings per week, so on those days my 9 am-12 pm block looks different than the other three mornings.  I still use the same time windows because I know how my energy flows throughout the day and this allows me to set my day up for success.

OK, let’s break down what my block schedule looks like.  Notice how each block is at least 3 hours long.  I think 3 is the magic number (in many cases in life!)

6:00 am – 9:00 am – Morning Block (breakfast, packing lunch for my daughter, playtime)

9:00 am – 12:00 pm – Active Block (working, cleaning, errands, or adventure with my toddler)

12:00 pm – 3:00 pm – Nap Block (computer work on couch, napping, phone calls)

3:00 pm – 6:30 pm – Family Block (playing, prepping dinner, eating dinner, bedtime routine)

6:30 pm – 9:30 pm – Evening Block (clean up, TV, computer work on couch, date night)

Identifying a schedule that works for YOU

The fun part is, you get to name your blocks!  You also begin to realize what times of day are ideal “brain time” for you.  For me, it’s 9 am – 12 pm.  My brain and body are both fired up and ready to go during these hours, which is why I need to write, problem solve, deep clean the house, and just get a ton accomplished.  It is optimal productivity time.  Whereas 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm I am tired and mentally drained.  Some people come alive at night.  I most certainly do not – and that’s OK!  Block scheduling is all about creating a schedule that allows you to be the most productive and the happiest.

The beauty of creating a block schedule is that you know where to slot things.  Dentist appointment?  That goes in my Active – Errand Block, which occurs every other Wednesday.  Playdate with friends?  That goes during my Friday Active Block when I am home with my daughter.  Business phone call?  I’d slot that in Nap Block, where I have a couple of hours to attend to admin.  A phone call is not brain-heavy work for me.  If it was a brain heavy call, then I would schedule during my Active Block.

I feel so much more clear on what I need to do and when, I feel confident when I book appointments and, I also feel like I’m able to plan for my day more effectively.

“But Jill, I work in a corporate environment from 8 am – 5 pm! How do I create a block schedule at work?”

Great question!

See what works and what doesn’t

I would start by looking at how you typically go about your day right now.  When are your recurring meetings?  Standing phone calls?  What do you like to work on first thing in the morning? When does your slump hit?  Start by documenting how your day unfolds, and then assess.  I firmly believe in embracing what’s already working and making adjustments from there.  I understand that some things in the corporate world cannot be changed, and that’s totally fine!  If you need to have a 30-minute call with higher-ups during your project block, just roll with it.  Take the call, then get back on track afterward.

Let’s look at what a sample corporate day block schedule could look like, including time at home and after work:

6:00 am – 8:00 am – Getting Ready Block (shower, news app, coffee, commuting)

8:00 am – 11:00 am – High Priority Block (high priority emails, email org, high priority calls)

11:00am – 1:00pm – Lunch Block (pre-launch review + planning, eating lunch, personal calls)

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Project Block (current project work, filling out paperwork, reviewing)

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm – Wind Down Block (prep for tomorrow, final emails, check VM, commute)

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Dinner Block (eating with family or friends, watching a show)

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm – Evening Block (personal work, phone calls, TV, reading, bedtime routine)

Notice how corporate blocking has a bit shorter time increments.  That’s OK!  You have to find the rhythm that works best for you.  The idea is to have a structure in your day.  To know what you’re focusing on, so you don’t get distracted from your goals.

Try it out for a week, and see how it feels.  Yay for structure in our day!

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