Your to-do list runneth over—especially when you’ve got kids getting in the way of your productivity at every turn. That’s why we’re stealing this time-blocking trick from Inspiralizer founder (and mom of nine-month-old Luca) Ali Maffucci for how to stay on track when you’ve got a zillion things to get done.
What is time blocking? Basically, time blocking is the art of strictly scheduling your day with blocks when you devote time to one specific task, according to Ali. Then, when the time you allotted is up, you move on to what’s next, regardless of completion level.
OK, let’s put it into practice. So, the night before is when you set up. Ali uses evenings to pick the tasks she absolutely has to accomplish the next day—those are the things she time blocks. An example to-do on her list: “Send invoices.” Ali opens up her calendar and actually schedules an event (or time block) that’s dedicated to this one task along with how much time she’d like to devote to it. (Say 45 minutes.) By putting each task into her calendar, she gets a digital alert reminding her when it’s time to start working and, more importantly, when it’s time to move on.*
*This is important. Ali also recommends taking no more than three to five minutes to wrap up what you’re working on and start the next block. According to her, if you let 10 to 15 minutes pass as you finish up an email or project, it can add up to hours throughout the day. (This also means you need to be honest and realistic with yourself about how much time a task will truly take.)
And if your nine-month-old does interrupt? Ali plans for that, too. In fact, she actually time blocks out baby-related pauses in her day—in her case, nursing sessions—that don’t always go according to schedule (aka if baby is crying and she needs to jump out of her invoice work for a sec, she makes up for the time lost working on invoices during the nursing time block she had pre-scheduled but didn't use). Smart, right?
One last quickie PSA to all the moms with ambitious to-dos. Go easy on yourself. In fact, Ali recommends time blocking for no more than two to three hours at a time, so you really do stick to the script and get things done. Also, don’t time block for 15 tasks when you know in your heart of hearts you’ll only get to five.
You feel so accomplished. Baby interruptions be damned.