Have you been feeling the tug to practice the piano more? Send more snail mail to loved ones? Play imagination games with your kids? Exercise as a family? Just trying to get it together and stop feeling so all over the place & like you are barely ‘fitting things in’?
Block your calendar.
Calendars aren’t only for defined meetings & doctors appointments, they are a tool to help us shape the ideal week. This looks like being intentional about our time and blocking sections to write, play family games, exercise, work on projects around the home, etc. Blocking our calendar is a way we can proactively define our ideal week & how we want to spend our time. Similar to how budgeting is a way of telling our money where to go, not be yanked around by our bank account balance - this is a way to direct our hours. Not every minute (unless that floats your boat) but enough anchors & important spaces so our week bends around where we believe we are best spending our precious investment of time & energy in our current life season.
It is also a way for my spouse & I to align on how we want the weeks to go, to get ahead of those pesky calendaring quarrels between an extroverted wife and her social but introverted husband. We both have an important say in how our ideal week is shaped, this is a way to align & organize our time before we actually spend it.
Here are a few of the ways we block time right now:
Social / Serve Night
Every other Wednesday night we have blocked for social/serve night. We either have a friend, people we want to get to know more, or people who’ve asked us for help in some form over for dinner or drinks. It is set aside for building into & serving our community primarily, but if what we need that week is actually more social time with our people then we reach out to friends. It is a flex time set aside for a specific purpose.
Every other Friday morning I have blocked from 7-9 for friend time. I’m not certain which friend, but some wonderful person in my life who also relishes the sweet AM hours will be sitting across the table while I cradle a decaf or walking alongside me at the park along the muddy Ohio River. The week before or sometimes days before, depending on how much margin I have in my life at that moment, I’m coordinating with one of my AM sisters. Every now & then I’ll make this a phone date with a distant friend while I take my dog for a walk, starting my Friday morning off slow and on purpose.
Here’s how those things (and some more) sit on my calendar right now:
Now, more times than I’d like to admit I have a project night for house projects scheduled and I blow it off for laundry, emails, a few phone calls, and an episode of Speechless. Or my worst blocked time offense right now is writing in the early AM hours. I got sick, then traveled, then jet lagged, then undisciplined and embarrassingly, I haven’t fully recovered this supposedly protected time to write before the world gets whirling around me.
One last example, blocked time for cleaning hour. I do not enjoy cleaning. I enjoy straightening and putting things away, but the actual cleaning part isn’t my jam. However, I own a home and I do not like to kick up dust as I walk to the kitchen so like most of us cleaning just has to happen. About a year ago I told my husband (who is super helpful around the house btw) I was feeling the weight of household cleaning on my shoulders and it felt like a lot. I work the same amount of hours as he does (most weeks) & manage much of our personal calendar as well, so the cleaning part was starting to slip. We’ve had this talk before and it didn’t go so well, probably because I waited until I was frustrated and tired, or he decided to have an opinion on something’s cleanliness and it was a bit more aggressive from the start. This time though, I was able to get ahead of the emotions and bring it to him as a problem I did actually want us to solve, not just discuss.
We came up with cleaning hour. This is a one hour block on our calendar where our household cleans. We put on lively music, ask Alexa to set a 60-minute timer, do a quick pow-wow on what needs to be cleaned and then go! We rarely are cleaning the same things or in the same room, but there is a togetherness that makes this time so much more fun. Our roommate also joins in the weekly cleaning extravaganza, so we tackle the cleaning like a real team, leaving the work to sit on no one person’s shoulders alone. I have come to look forward to this time rather than want to reorganize my closet just to avoid cleaning.
We setup a few boundaries of what counts as ‘cleaning’ & the minimum just in case we’ve had a particularly full week. At a minimum every item is put back where it belongs, the kitchen is cleaned (dishes done, counters wipes & appliances wipe, floor swept), the bathrooms are cleaned, and anything else that has been bothering us that week is tackled (dusting the fans, dusting the book shelves, cleaning out the fridge, cleaning out the grill, etc). We hold what has to get done loosely. I’ve come to learn holding it loosely and doing it together is more fun and more effective than dictating details and scrubbing floors alone.
In a nutshell, block time on your calendar. I’d recommend starting small, with important non-urgent things you feel deserve more focus in your life NOT by mapping out every hour and creating a great opportunity to feel like a failure. It is a helpful way to shape your ideal week & bend how you spend your time around what you really believe is important for your family to run after the mission ahead.
By Kathryn Cradduck