Through my years as an author with a day job, I have had to learn to cultivate a work routine at home. It’s so easy, when you’re working for yourself and not a boss, to procrastinate, to push back deadlines because there’s nobody to keep you accountable. This tends to brew guilt, though, and then you get stuck in a spiral of feeling guilty about procrastinating, and then having anxiety about that guilt and then not being able to work because of the anxiety.
I have struggled with executive dysfunction, and, while it’s not so bad nowadays, I’ve had to try several methods to manage to get shit done. Lists, schedules, etc., and they’ve all worked for a while, until I started ignoring them and fell into a procrastinating spiral again.
My latest method is schedule blocking, and I feel like sharing it with you in case it might help someone else.
Basically I’ve determined 6 key categories of things I want/have to spend time on. I wouldn’t recommend using too many categories as you might get lost in them. For me, these categories are:
- Getting Ready
- Meal Plan
Some of these are not that long, but they need doing, so I felt it was important to include them so I don’t get stuck in a “I’ll get to this right after I finish X” type of situation. I’ve also only blocked a regular 9-5 workday, on my days off for my day job. Feel free to adapt this schedule to the hours that work best for you.
I decided how many hours needed to be allotted to each category, and the time of day where I felt the most productive for each one, and then I placed my blocks.
The idea is that I’m still making to-do lists, but instead of just begrudgingly staring at them and picking the easiest task haphazardly, I’m picking a task that fits the block I’m in.
You’ll notice that I included a block for hobbies. This is important. Make time for yourself where you don’t have to be productive, where you can read, play video games or watch TV, whatever it is. It’s essential, especially in trying times like these. The fact that it’s built into your schedule means you don’t feel guilty about not doing work during this time.
I used to feel guilty that I wasn’t reading much, but then whenever I would make time to read, I’d feel guilty I wasn’t working. The schedule blocking method helps alleviate a lot of guilt.
Once again, this is the method that works best for me right now, but I’m sure you can find a lot of other techniques out there. Try a bunch of them! Mix and match them! What works for someone might not work for you, and that’s okay. Feel free to share your own tips with me!
What matters, all the time but mostly in these hard times, is to be kind to yourself. Remember that it’s okay to be scared and anxious, and to feel unproductive. You do not have to be a productivity beast in the middle of a global pandemic. I’m just sharing these tips to help you if you feel like you need some structure.
Take care of yourself, I love you all so much, and I’m sending y’all the biggest hug from 6ft away.