Time blocking made my life calmer

- a procrastinators guide to stressing down

Ok, lets face it. I am terrible at structuring my life. My task manager is filled with stuff I have never finished, and I have at least three unfinished novels somewhere on my laptop. And I never seem to find time to even start writing on the next chapter of any of them. Not to mention deadlines that just turn upp a few days before and I haven’t even started to plan for them.

I have been trying different solutions, all with different issues. I tried GTD since that seems to be the main system for time planning. I never got the hang of it, couldn’t really see the point in spending time to read books about how to save time. It was just too complex to me.

Then I stumbled upon a guy called Carl Pullein. I was searching for tips on YouTube about Apple Notes, and while doing that I found his other videos, on among other things time management. In the beginning I just spent a lot of time watching videos on different apps, but then I saw one about time blocking. I realised that this was what I needed to focus on. Not a zillion different apps with certain functions that you probably didn’t need anyway. Not a way to implement this and that to whatever apps you have on your laptop. But a way to structure our everyday life.

I started to email Carl with questions, and he was ever so kind as to answer them, even if I guess he has had the same questions from others many many times. But that helped me to realise that what app you use is not important, it is HOW you use it to structure your days. And in the long run, your life.

Ok so this is what I ended up with
- Apple Calendar (my alternative: BusyCal)
- Things 3 (my alternative: Apple Reminders)

In my calendar I have four folders
- Personal activities
- Creative time
- Remember to do
- Projects

Apart from those I also have Family, Birthdays and so on.

My first calendar Personal activities is where I put things that hasn’t anything to do with my writing or my standup. It can be “Visit my daughter”, “take dog to vet” and such things. These are things I have to do at a set date and time, but they are not repeated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

The second calendar is Creative time. Here is where I block time for my writing, wether it is writing articles, novels, short stories or standup material. This is blocked with set times, the same every week. Of course I can change them if needed, du to other things popping up that I need to attend at once or at a set time. Like: if I get an appointment at the dentist when I am supposed to write, I just move that writing block to another available time. But I only move that particular time, not every recurring block.

My third calendar is Remember to do. These spaces in my calendar is blocked in order to focus on things in my todo-list. Of course I could also, like Carl Pullein, have a subscription to Todoist and then those todos just appear in that subscribed calendar. I tried that but almost at once realised that it would just lead to me moving things around in the calendar. So instead I now put things that need to be done at a certain time in the appropriate calendar. And that is why I also every day set some time to check my todo app/list.

Finally, my fourth calendar. I call it projects, since this is where I gather things like my gigs, any conferences or such things. Most of these also have their own projects in Things 3, my task manager of choice. So the way it works for me is: In my calendar I write where to be and when, and in Things 3 I keep the planning and such.
Now, there are some things that I miss in Things 3, mostly the Smart Folders that Reminders use. But since I get a good overview due to the link to my calendar at the top of the Things 3 main window, I haven’t felt into be a huge problem. It also lacks a few things: mainly the possibility to add notes, pdf:s and all sorts of attachments. You can drag a note to Things3 and then you get a link, and you can add emails to Things3 from Airmail and other email apps. Even from Apple mail, but it needs you to activate that function in Things3.

However, I have started to try Apple Reminders, and there my set up is as follows:
* Inbox. (This is where I put everything to start with before I act on it.
* Important. This is where I put all that I have marked with flags or exclamation marks, but haven’t decided yet when I must do it. Why I don’t choose to have a “Later” folder instead is that I learned from experience (in Things3) that stuff I put in “Anytime” never gets done. Instead, I have decided that things I don’t think is important I act on right away: do or delete.
* Todays Focus.
* This week.
* This month.

Apart from these Smart Folders I also have regular project folders for my standup, writing and so on.

Carl Pullein also has “Next week”, “Next month” in his YouTube clip, and I might end yup there aswell in the future, but for now I want to have as few folders as possible otherwise I would probably just move things around and not get anything done. I am starting to know myself, you see.

I think it is important to mention that to me the main hub is the Calendar. Everything I must do on a set date is in there. If I don’t do everything in the Today Focus in reminders-fine. I can just move it to the next day, it’s not the end of the world.

So, this is how I, a stereotype of a procrastinator, now structure my calendar. Hope you my fellow procrastinators get some ideas from this.
Good luck with structuring your life,’

Tomas A

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Swedish Standup comedian, writer & diabetic. Published a few books, done a few gigs. ‘Sweden’s own dirty uncle, brilliant writing and some very dark humour.”

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Tomas Ahlbeck

Tomas Ahlbeck

Swedish Standup comedian, writer & diabetic. Published a few books, done a few gigs. ‘Sweden’s own dirty uncle, brilliant writing and some very dark humour.”

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