Trials And Tribulations In Time Blocking

August 17, 2017

Shown above is a still image from actual footage of every day of my life. I work at a busy, thriving marketing agency. I’m the chair of the local library board. I’m husband to a lovely wife and father to two young sons. I manage a men’s amateur baseball team (just waiting for the scouts to show up…). Life’s a gong show on a good day.

But I refuse to let that become an excuse.

As part of my ongoing efforts to stay on top of stuff and be productive, my latest endeavor is to get serious about time blocking. In short: If your to-do list is separate from your calendar, your to-do list is simply a wish list. If something’s truly important, it should be on your calendar.

The task is not “write news release draft.” The task is “write news release draft at 9 a.m. on Thursday; I expect it’ll take an hour.” You’re blocking off time on your calendar to get it done. Time blocking takes the abstract “I think I can get all of this done” and makes very real this crucial consideration: If you don’t have room on your calendar for that task, something’s gotta give. You delegate the task. You stay up later or get up earlier. You reschedule a meeting. You figure it out.

Makes sense, right? Pretty solid system, eh? Well, wait until reality (see above) kicks your adorable little time-blocked schedule right in the teeth.

You have your plan, and then an important meeting pops up. Then the thing you thought would take 30 minutes took 90. Then you have to pick up a sick kid in the middle of the afternoon. And then everything’s shot to hell.

That’s just life. But if you’re trying to be disciplined about time blocking, these facts of life are an oil-slicked highway to Give-Up Town. It’s just too much to keep up with, trying to rejigger your calendar with each little obstacle real life throws your way. Moving stuff on your calendar becomes a part-time job of its own.

That’s where SkedPal comes in. It’s a lovely, surprisingly easy to use piece of software that does all that calendar managing for you. You input your task list, tell the software how long you think each task might take, and when it’s due. SkedPal marries that information with a combination of the hours during which you want to be working and the meetings and other commitments on your calendar. Click a button and — boom! — you have a time-blocked calendar based on your actual priorities and deadlines.

Not only that, but if something changes — you miss completing something, or a meeting gets added to your calendar, or a deadline changes — you simply click “update schedule” and SkedPal automatically re-time-blocks your calendar for you. It’s legit sorcery, and I love it.