Spring has arrived! All around the neighbourhood, cherry trees are blossoming and birds are singing their songs, early in the mornings. And even with COVID-19, that beautiful aspect of the Creation can’t be subtracted. Plus, it’s my father’s birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!
Spring is a joyous occasion for many of us. In Japan, specifically, it’s a time for the new school year to start. Everything is renewed in April; it’s that time when people try to think about resetting their mindsets, etc., etc.
Of course, due to the COVID-19, some of that’s been laid off. And here, a lot of the schools are shut down. (Which doesn’t really change things for us homeschoolers, but anyways.) We spend a lot of time being cooped up indoors–my family goes for a walk everyday, and does karate–and we’re kind of stressed. Even if we do get outdoors at least once a day.
Plus, for people who haven’t really been into scheduling their own day, it might be hard trying to find a routine or some sort of discipline to stick to while you work or study at home. You might find at the end of the day that you’ve only completed one task out of eight that you’ve been planning to do. (Or maybe you’re super productive, now that there’s very little to be done. In that case, you’ll still have use for what I’m about to say. Trust me.)
This is where block scheduling comes in.
The first thing to be asking would be:
What is Block Scheduling?
Glad you asked! I actually didn’t know this until I read a blog post on time management by Jenna Terese.
Block scheduling is a way of creating time table blocks using Google Calendar.
Now, if you’re someone like me who does a lot of your study/work on the computer, this is a must. You can get Google Calendar if you have a Gmail account by just signing into the app with your email.
And even if you don’t study/work on your computer, you can use a paper-based calendar/schedule to do this, like I used to during the infant days of my homeschooling with ACE. (Never heard of it? Oh, well…)
It’s basically a way for you to create your own “block” for the day. I don’t know how schools work here, but in Japan, there are different periods, or blocks where you’re studying certain subjects.
Well, block scheduling is just that–but you do it yourself. Here are the three easy steps of how to block your calendar:
1: Link Accounts
First, I’ll be sharing with you a screenshot of what my Google Calendar looks like.
This is from April 2nd, and it’s what the calendar looks like after each event has past. Google Calendar can mute the colours and show where you are in the day with a red line. For me, I have three accounts that I show stimulously: My school, personal, and writing account respectively. I’ve changed the colour of blocks, which you can do in the tick boxes to the left.
One of the very first things to do when calendar blocking is to link accounts and change the view to your DAY, not the MONTH. See the upper right corner? That’s where you’ll see the search, help, setting, and view (shown as Day) buttons. This is the basics you’ll be needing.
You can also see that I’ve signed in using my study account. But I can still access the other accounts’ schedules, because I linked the calendars. If you have multiple accounts like me, this would be a good idea to do, so that you can divide your time accordingly. You can do this by clicking on the gears, or the Setting. Go to Add Calendar, then to the Subscribe to calendar setting. Then, you can add your own email (personal, writing, etc.). On those accounts you added, you’ll receive a request email for the calender from yourself. You can update the settings on those accounts to allow you to link the calendars, and the next time you go back to that main account’s calendar, it will show up in the tick boxes on the left.
2: Create the Event
Once you’ve linked the accounts together, you come to the fun part! This is where you start blocking off time segments.
Click the +Create button on the upper left corner. A box like this should appear:
Then, you can name that event (like my Write blog segment), and adjust the time you think you’ll need to complete that task. When starting off, small time segments like an hour per task with 5~15 min. breaks work well. You can change the event according to the person by clicking the calendar icon in the box. And all the rest of the information you think you’ll need (like location, where I put my zoom meeting urls in), just fill them in.
Alternatively, you can just click on a time frame in the calendar itself, and the same box will appear.
3: Be flexible!
And that’s actually it. There’s certainly more that I can talk about (such as Google Tasks, where I create unreasonable lists of things to do) and weekly blocks (the blue line that says Trig Equations +Course Challenge). But right now, the basics of calendar blocking is simply creating time segments for each tasks. You can also do this in a paper schedule, which I used to do during elementary~middleschool years.
One thing that I really like about this is how I can visualize the time. After I block my calendar, I know exactly how much time I have in a day, and that helps me stay motivated on one task so that I can finish it in the time frame I set.
One thing I don’t like about this is how I sometimes glorify the schedule too much. As a natural planner, I love knowing what’s going to happen next, be it the next hour or the next ten years. When I don’t know, I tend to panic. If someone tries to budge into my perfect schedule for the day, I get downright mad. *sends a Howler* HOW DARE YOU DISRUPT MY SCHEDULE! DON’T YOU SEE IT SAYS I’M SUPPOSED TO BE WRITING RIGHT NOW?
But that’s not the point of calendar blocking. It’s only a tool, and sometimes I have to be flexible about it. So what I do now is to ask my family members some of the plans they have, so I can save room for it. We also have a set time for family Bible study and meals, so those are the first things I work into my calendar. I put on a repeat function so that it shows up everyday.
Remember, calendar blocking is a tool. It’s supposed to help you use your time more wisely so that you can spend the time you might be wasting on other people. Like your family. (Well said, myself!)
The number one thing to do is remember to be flexible.
But, not too flexible. You want to follow the plans you make to an extent, conserve time, and spend time doing the things you love with the people you love.
What did you think? Does calendar blocking sound like the tool you’d like to use? Do you make daily goals already? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!