Guest Blogger: Lauren H.
I like to think of myself as an organized person. I use a planner, make to-do lists, and love a good spreadsheet. But no matter how organized I am, maintaining focus, staying consistent in my routines, and being able to wind down at the end of the day presented constant challenges. Considering the year, we’ve all had, I didn’t think too much of my increased feelings of anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and lack of focus.
And then, I started working with Tricia. Early on, I added a new tool to my toolbox – time blocks. Tricia suggests blocking out your day in two-hour chunks and conducting a short check-in with yourself at the end of each block. I slowly began integrating this concept into my everyday life.
Things were improving, but I still had difficulty maintaining consistency in my routine. Ultimately, if I wasn’t using the time blocks as prescribed, so to speak, I wasn’t going to reap their benefits.
So I took the leap. One thing I’ve learned about myself throughout my recovery is that I don’t do things halfway. It’s all in or nothing at all. I took the time blocks seriously and blocked out every day of my week, Sunday through Saturday, from six in the morning to ten at night.
When I actually took into account what works for me, as Tricia guided me, something happened. It worked. I noticed a huge shift in my overall mood. Major shifts, some that I’ve been trying (and failing) to implement for years become an easy part of my daily routine.
So, here are 5 Ways Time Blocks Changed My Life:
Benefit #1: My sleep pattern improved.
As a natural night owl, I’ve always struggled with getting to bed “on-time.” With a penchant to stay up late making art projects, reading a book, or honestly, just scrolling through Instagram, I found waking up at a reasonable time to be increasingly difficult. I wanted so badly to be an early bird, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to wake up when that alarm went off at six am.
I’d been taking a natural sleep aid (similar to Unisom) every night for the past six months to help me fall asleep. After a few nights with insomnia, literally not sleeping at all, I found it the best alternative.
With my new time block schedule, I found myself able to not only get in bed on time but actually fall asleep. The impossible was now possible, an everyday reality!
I’m no expert, but I suspect being able to have an intellectually, emotionally, and physically fulfilling day had something to do with my ability to fall asleep at night. These time blocks made that possible.
Benefit #2: I established an exercise routine that I actually stick to.
I’ll be the first to admit I am not a naturally active person. Though I recognize the importance of daily, or at least regular, exercise, I was for years unable to get into a routine that was feasible for my everyday life.
In my time blocks, I give myself a 30-45 minute window every weekday morning for an exercise of my choice. Some days it’s a walk around the neighborhood, others it’s a session of virtual yoga. With some flexibility, I allow myself one morning a week to say no to exercise if my body really needs rest. Needless to say, I have integrated exercise into my everyday life, because I have the time blocked out for it.
Benefit #3: I’m more productive because I can focus.
Instead of multi-tasking in order to improve productivity, which was my previous method of madness, I’m now able to focus solely on the task at hand.
This “one thing at a time” method that time blocks encourage has actually made me more productive. Because I’m able to focus only on one thing at a time and feel confident I have enough time left in the day to get everything else done as well, I’m more likely to complete a task I start.
Additionally, I find my work, in general, is improving. Because I’m able to say, “I am going to spend one hour working only on this task,” all of my brainpower goes right to that task and the work, overall, is better.
Benefit #4: My relaxing time is actually relaxing.
An unexpected benefit of time blocks is something I’ve always struggled with—relaxing! Having a set amount of time designated to activities I find rejuvenating to mind, body, and soul permits me to spend that time actually feeling at ease.
This is a deep work that involves other tools besides the time blocks, including affirmations like, “It’s okay to take a break.” However, making the time to relax, for that ever so important self-care, was the catalyst to affirming my worthiness to rest.
Benefit #5: I feel fulfilled
Finally, the ultimate reward of using time blocks consistently is a simple, ultimate pleasure—a feeling of fulfillment. At the end of the day, if I’ve stuck to my time blocks, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Because I’m able to do all the things I’ve already listed (exercise, execute necessary tasks, unwind and have fun) I feel at the end of the day, all of my needs are met.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad moments. But that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? To reduce a bad day into a passing, bad moment. Having time blocks as a regular tool allows me to easily resume focus when a wrench gets thrown in the mix of my day, be it with work, personal life, or simply an emotional down.
What I’ve found in using time blocks is not restriction, as I’d originally assumed. Instead, I found the freedom to do more of what I love, still be productive at work, sleep, exercise, and relaxing time. It almost sounds too good to be true, and while nothing is ever perfect, we can strive toward that ultimate sense of fulfillment every day.
Time blocks give me a canvas upon which to build my days, which allows me to adjust as needed for my emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs in the moment.
Whether you dive face-first like me, or just dip a toe in the water, time blocks provide an incredible tool to build healthy, centering habits into your life, without compromise.