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I’m often asked how I find time to grow my website design, copy writing & mentorship business, run a food blog, write a cookbook, pitch & create for magazines and my regular cocktail column, write a novel, act in movies, work-out, cook dinner, eat, nap, spend time with loved ones AND clean the bathroom.

I usually respond with “I don’t clean the bathroom.”

But today I’m getting super duper specific and giving away one very specific time management strategy that’s made it possible for me to pursue all my passions and find success both professionally and personally +  a free tool for you to download and get started, so you can use your time more effectively to get shit done, be productive, and do what you love.

The #1 strategy I use to grow my blog & business: Time blocking + free printable template - PeppercornCreative.com | website design agency and blog & business mentor in Vancouver BC

I get ridiculously specific with clients about goals, priorities, strategy and the actual blocking of time in my Virtual Happy {Power} Hours and Brand Development Partnership Program, but if you want a fundamental tool to attack this yourself, I’m givin’ it to ya!

Because your success matters. Your energy matters. Your time matters. So instead of fighting against it, let’s use it to your advantage. Time really is on our side, we just have to know how to manage it.

So here it is – the #1 time management strategy I use to grow my blog & business and pursue all my passions AND find time to poop… among other things.


Scheduled Time Blocking !!!


You may have already heard about this but if ya’ haven’t (or want a ‘lil refresher), time blocking is a method for organizing your day into very specific time blocks so you’re able to be more productive and extract maximum benefit from concentrated effort.

It’s about quality, rather than quantity (more on this in another up-coming post.)

I take scheduled time blocking very seriously. Even more seriously than my desire to eat cake. Now that’s sayin’ somethin’.


Why Time Blocking Works


It’s been scientifically and socially proven that a task expands to the size of time you allow for it. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you limit the amount of time you allocate for a specific task, it’s likely to get done more quickly.

This isn’t to argue that you can do a week’s worth of work in an hour or two, but rather, by time blocking tasks to a set amount of time (big motions or micro-movements), you’re more likely to “do it” and get it done, than if the time-frame is open-ended.


1. Identify Tasks & Priorities


In order for time blocking to work, you have to know what needs to have block space – those are tasks and priorities.

These could be professional things like writing blog posts, drafting a newsletter, pitching clients and brand partners or engaging on social media where your ideal clients and community hang out. Or they could be personal or otherwise goal-focused like exercising, cooking dinner, reading, or even napping.

Executable: Write out a list of what needs to get done – what you want to get done – and then prioritize based on your physical, emotional and spiritual (if you’re into that kind of thing) needs. Number them, create little stars, whatever means “most important” to “least important” to you.


2. Be Realistic & Cut the B.S.


Many of us are multipotentialites while some of us simply have one or two clearly defined goals along side other life demands on our time. So right now it’s your chance to get realistic and cut the bullshit: How much time do you realistically have for the tasks and priorities listed above?

If you have 30 things you want to do and only 5 real hours a week that you can devote to them, you may need to do some hard work and dig deep to decide what’s really important so you can focus, dig deep and do the work. However if you have the ability to flex your scheduling muscles a bit, you can probably take on a bit more.

Or if you’re a morning person, you probably shouldn’t schedule too much at 8PM, likewise if you’re a night person, you’re unlikely to do your best work at 6AM. Knowing your circadian rhythms is an important factor in being productive.

If you aren’t sure, that’s okay! We’re in this together. You can use the downloadable tool in this article to experiment with and reprint as often as you need to until you find the balance that works for you. Or, cut the line and book a Virtual Happy Hour with me now and I’ll do the hard work for you.

And don’t forget about planning and blog or business maintenance things, fun stuff like spending time with loved ones, as well as making room for your self – these are key to ensuring you don’t burn out and to maintain your mental health.

Executable: Be honest with yourself. Right now. In this and all other facets of your life. It isn’t easy but it’s the best possible thing you can do for your business, your relationships and your self.


3. Write that Shit Down


Many of us are visual learners, others are kinesthetic, in that they learn from doing. Writing shit down is meant to appeal to both of these groups.

By writing something down we get it out of our brains and make it real – tangible. And when something is tangible it becomes something of effect. Meaning, it carries weight and we see the results of that weight disperse through our lives.

Writing something down makes it tangible & carries weight that affects our experience… Click To Tweet

So now that you know what needs scheduling, you can begin to time block and employ this strategy in your own blog or business.

Executable: At the bottom of this article you’ll find a free template for you to download and actually write down your set tasks and priorities per hour/per day so you can visualize and experience how they fit into your schedule. Download it. Print off a few copies. Experiment.


4. Break Out the Crayons


Now that you know:

  1. What you need & want to do (aka tasks and priorities)
  2. The abilities & restraints (ow ow!) on your time
  3. Where each task fits in your calendar down to the hour

…It’s time to break out the crayons. Or markers. Or iCal. Or Google Calendar. Or paper agenda. Or whatever tool will let you colour code each task. This makes it easier to review at a glance what needs to be done.

This is where some experimentation comes in that we talked about in point 2. You may be okay with not completing every task every time, and you can just pick up where you left off next time that action rolls around. Or you may need to adjust your expectations and get more honest about what you’re able to achieve in a set amount of time and re-block it. Be flexible and gentle with yourself – this is deep and hard work!

Executable: Assign a colour to each type of task and fill in the space allocated for each one. Repeat. Do this for a 2 – 4 week timeline. This gives you enough time to see if what you’ve blocked out works for you and is easy enough to adjust if you need to revisit what you’ve done and adjust accordingly. Then set alerts in your digital calendar or on your phone to notify you at the end of a task. That way you’ll know it’s time to put it down and move onto the next thing.


5. Follow Through + Remove Distractions


All of this preliminary work means diddly-poop if you don’t commit to following through with your time blocking. And what a waste of time that would be!

As I’ve mentioned before, as a successful creative small business owner, I hate the hell out of routine. It makes me want to run away faster than a donkey with a 5th leg. So time blocking almost seems counter-intuitive to me. Except that I get butt-loads done when I use and execute it properly. So I ensure I revisit my time blocking scheduler at the end of every month. And I encourage you to do the same to ensure it works for you, stays relevant with your vision and allows you to commit and follow through!

Part of following through also means removing distractions and creating boundaries. When I’m working on any writing, I turn off the phone, close the email and shut down any browser tabs that don’t apply directly to what I’m working on.

You may even want to add some kind of signature to your emails or communicate with clients or loved ones that during certain hours, you’re simply unavailable. Full stop.

And like I do, don’t forget to check in with yourself every couple of weeks or so to make sure the scheduled time blocking system you’ve mapped out is working for you and your blog or business. If it isn’t, start over. Like any good system, you’ll have a few kinks to work out and as your brand grows and evolves, so too should your time blocking calendar.

Executable: Download the Time Blocking Calendar Template! Ready to get started? Great! Click the button below to get your free time blocking calendar.

How do you manage your time effectively? Ever try time blocking? What tools work for you? What do you struggle with when it comes to time management or growing your brand? What else would you add to the conversation? Leave a comment below or please shoot me an email and tell me! I wanna hear from you.

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