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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is Week 21 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested time blocking, specifically as recommended by The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months {affiliate link}. I scheduled a 3-hour Strategic block, a 3-hour Breakout block, and two daily Buffer blocks (click for explanation). Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for more details.

How Time Blocking Saved My Sanity This Week

  • I got my most important tasks done first. I neglected to mention last week that the 12 Week Year recommends scheduling the strategic block during the first part of the week so it’s likely to get done. I did my 3-hour stint on Monday and couldn’t have been more excited about making progress on work that I’d been neglecting so I could attend to day-to-day tasks.
  • Pre-planned activities made the time go on and on. I didn’t just use time blocking to “work on homeschool planning” or “start my book.” Having used the 12 Week Year program to set three goals for the next 12 weeks and weekly benchmarks that had to be achieved for each, I knew exactly what to do with my 3-hour strategic block. I took no breaks, choosing instead to switch goals when I needed a change of pace. I’m almost a week ahead and couldn’t be more thrilled with what I’ve gotten done.
  • Having guilt-free relaxation time made me more productive. Trying to mix work and play and family can be pretty frustrating. Knowing that I had a 3-hour block of time to do absolutely anything (I read and watched TV) helped motivate me to return to work. I wasn’t interrupted, but in the future I would like to make sure everyone knows that Mom is on a mini-vacation during this time.
  • Motivated me to finish the rest of my work. After finishing my 3-hour time block on the big stuff, the rest seemed easy to knock out, regardless of how I approached it.

How Time Blocking Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Buffer blocks don’t work in the summer. I think having buffer blocks twice during the day to field the kids’ homework questions and my husband’s requests will work great during the school year. When my husband isn’t working as much (he sells library books to schools) and the kids are jumping from one fun activity to the next, they couldn’t be less interested in whether or not I have a “Buffer Block.” I didn’t find it necessary for handling other work because I already have a routine.

Did Time Blocking Help Me Get Things Done?

A very enthusiastic YES! What I’m most pleased with is the fact that I made serious progress on goals that would otherwise have been neglected. What’s more is the fact that I had peace of mind both in knowing I’d gotten the important work done and had reserved free time, too. I will be continuing to use the time blocks as part of the 12-Week Year and will give a full review of the approach in September (as it’s impossible to test in a week).


I still love time blocking and scheduling. By taking time blocks seriously and making them a habit, I have been able to accomplish my goals.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 22

morning ritual productivity

Image courtesy of winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week I’ll be testing a morning ritual. I have a morning ritual–most people do. But I could benefit from an improved one. The change I am most interested in making this week (because I already exercise and have a time of prayer and Bible reading) is not reading email right away.  

The concept. Curt Mercadante encouraged me to give up my habit of checking email first thing in the morning, attesting to the benefits on productivity.

A morning ritual can be used much like stretching for an athlete. The activity we engage in first can set the tone for the whole day and can be used to increase our productivity and improve our mood.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Curt’s article. Decide which activity will best prepare you for a productive day and plan to do it first. I will not be checking email first from now on when I roll out of bed. Exercise is my best first activity (after the necessaries ;-)).

Click here to see how my week testing a morning ritual went.

Are you on Google+? Follow me and join the Productivity community for great ideas on getting more done.

If you’ve tried Time Blocking to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done