If you hate strict schedules, try time blocking

As a young mother, time and schedule were always something that I struggled with. I wanted to live a spontaneous and fun life, and I eschewed the idea of strict schedules and turning down activities because of set nap and meal times.

I read the book The Mother's Rule of Life and though I agreed with parts of it, the whole thing just sounded too... rigid.

I later learned that though a typical schedule that is the same exact thing every day doesn't work as well for me as it does for others, time blocking my schedule leads to increased productivity, fewer tears, goal accomplishment and more time for fun.

So what is time blocking? 

The general principle behind it is that you split your day into blocks of time, and then you give each time a purpose. Just like in budgets where you allocate out your finances into categories, you do the same for time and the things you'd like to accomplish in a day.

I do want to note that for me the reason time blocking works is that it is flexible. If you get halfway through the day and 6 mini-emergencies have thrown you completely off your schedule, you don't stick to it. You re-plan the end of your day in a way that is comfortable.

Time blocking may not work as well for parents of newborns. Newborns do their thing, and though we gently ease them into figuring out day from night and other schedule basics as they grow, we can't impose a strict schedule on them when they are very young. When a newborns in the house, for at least the first little while we throw all schedules and time blocking to the wind.

For the rest of the time however, it works great.

An example of a time blocked schedule might be:

8:00 am: wake up
Morning 8-10: 
- breakfast
- brush teeth
- get dressed
- put away breakfast dishes
Late Morning 10-12:
- school work
- outdoor play
Afternoon 1-3:
- free play time
- quiet reading time
- snack
Late Afternoon 4-6:
- Tidy Up
- Screen time while Mom cooks
- Dinner
Evening 6-8:00:
- Walk around the block
- Bath
- PJs
- Brush Teeth
Bedtime 8-8:30:
- tidy bedrooms
- bedtime stories
- lights out

So what is the difference between time blocking and following a schedule?

Following a schedule is more rigid. A schedule might say, from 8:00-8:15 we do this, and assign each item it's own time. For Mothers especially this can get out of control quickly when one thing derails us from these exact schedule minutes.

Time blocking takes a chunk of time and in it we write the things we want to accomplish during that time period. Then when we get to the next time period, we look at what we've done, quickly re-evaluate our day, and go from there.

Why does this work better?

Time blocking your schedule works better because it is more flexible. You do it each day, and for each day it can change. Our weekends look different from our weekdays. Some days we want to participate in activities that mean that naptime or mealtime is changed. 

When we have an idea of the general order of things and block our days like this, we have the stability of a schedule without the  inflexibility.