Okay, so yesterday you saw my master paper calendar/ planner system. Today I want to move in to another equally important part of my planning and organization system: Google Calendar.
I know some people are very much “Team Paper” or “Team Digital”, but as in most things, I fall somewhere in the middle. 🙂
For me, Google Calendar is NOT my master calendar. I don’t “trust it”, if you know what I mean. (If I’m at the dentist and I need to check my calendar to schedule an appointment, I do not open Google Cal. I pull out my paper planner.)
I only enter things on Google Cal about one week in advance (and my specific time blocks don’t go on until that day). As part of my weekly review on Friday, I open up my paper planner and transfer anything of significance to my Google Calendar (appointments, meetings, kids’ activities, plans). By the end of the day Friday, my upcoming week looks something like this:
Yellow = both kids (their school lunch schedule goes here too)
I really don’t track any of Ivan’s stuff on here. He mostly currently just has work and it’s predictable that he’s gone from 8am -6 pm.
Redundant?? I know.
I understand one could argue that transferring things from my paper planner to Google Calendar is redundant. I realize this. But, I like to do this for a few reasons.
* It keeps me very actively engaged/ aware of what is going on.
*I keep Google Calendar open on my desk top all day, so I like having the schedule there each day AND I really like the vertical layout when I glance at it. (I later incorporate my work time blocks here, too, so it is important to have appointments/plans digitally as well.)
*Most important reason: The Google Calendar automatically syncs the Family Calendar to our refrigerator touch screen, so the kids can see at a glance what they have that day.
Once I have my Google Calendar “skeleton” set up on Fridays, it’s pretty much good to go. Like I said, I only work with Google Cal about one week at a time (besides some events I have set to recurring).
Next up: TIME BLOCKING.
This is something I have not always been 100% consistent with, but when I do it, my life and world thanks me profusely. Everything is better when I time block.
Here’s my system:
-Sometime in the morning I pull up my Google Calendar and look at the anchors in my day.
-I then sketch out how I want my day to look, based on what is going on and what seems realistic. I aim for ~5-6 hours of “deep work” time in my workday, broken up in 30 minute chunks of time. During these times, I just WORK. No email, no phone, no Googling, no interruptions ( Clearly, this can get tricky sometimes when the kids are home, but I try very hard to respect these time blocks even when family is home.)
The rest of my workday is then available for email, light prep/ organization work, meetings, talking to co-workers, breaks, etc. I vary when these blocks are based on what else I have going. (If I have a day heavier in meetings/in-services, then I would just schedule a bit less deep work that day.)
Here is how my calendar currently looks. Yesterday’s time blocks are there, today’s haven’t been entered yet:
I don’t block my early morning hours and I pretty rarely specifically time block the evenings (besides listing events). It’s mostly reserved for my work days. I generally do NOT time block weekends, either. Too many unknowns.
As you can see, I schedule in my workout, breaks, etc. with my 30 minute “WORK” blocks taking priority. I keep track of how many deep work blocks I complete in a day on a notepad in my desk, too. If anything unexpected comes up (i.e. repairman shows up at my door), I know I need to “make up” a deep work block another day or on the weekend.
I know from experience that 4 repeat blocks of work (=2 hours) is about the MOST I can do without a decent break.
*This system works very well for my job, because I work highly independently and have very little interaction with others. I’m sure this would be way more complicated for someone dealing with clients/co-workers constantly. I also like it because my job is flexible and I can schedule my work blocks whenever I want, really. If I have a haircut (like this coming Friday), I’ll probably plan to complete 2 deep work time blocks early in the morning instead of at 9 am.
Do you time block?? I’d love to hear about it and what system works for you.
I am grateful for people who taught me about using the “suspend” feature on the library holds system!! I just loaded up my list with a ton of books and I’m excited to try this!