Tim Urban has a lot of interesting things to say about the human’s ability to procrastinate despite knowing that our time on the planet is finite. I thought I would experiment with his “100 blocks a day”.
Day 1 and with the week ahead, I refreshed my to do list for next few weeks. I have recently started using Magdalena Bak-Maier’s grid system of four quadrants; the page is split horizontally between life and work (an artificial divide in my view), and vertically between the things you need to do and the tasks which help you or your work to develop. I like its visual appeal and gives me an excuse to use my magic magnetic flip chart paper (although a standard piece of A4 would work just as well). Taster course available here: https://lifelabs.psychologies.co.uk/ (how to achieve your goals).
From this list, I have chosen the items I need to focus on this week so I can plan my first 100 blocks. These items are highlighted, sort of, in blue. I allocated time to work, exercise, relax and have friends visit. Plus I allowed for fluctuating energy levels (2-4pm is not my brain’s best time). Non-“to-do list” time has been highlighted in yellow. It was very difficult to think about my time so precisely but Day 1 of the block experiment looks like this and it lived on the wall next to my grid:
I felt I had been too optimistic and overstated my brain power… and I was right! I got brain ache early in the day so spent too long tidying and lingering over my tea breaks. I was therefore a bit disappointed that I didn’t stick closer to the plan or get as much done as planned but it was still a productive day. Including in my plan some review time at the end of the day was very useful. It allowed me to be smarter when planning the rest of the week, although I didn’t tick off all the items on the weekly to do list, and it kept what I needed to do front of mind – to the point where I couldn’t switch off!
I just had to remember that the idea of the blocks is to help you look at how you use your time so you move towards your goals, and not to account for each minute or use it as a stick to beat yourself with. Having my day planned in advance and having some self-imposed deadlines stopped me wasting time and kept me conscious of the fact that I have a business to develop and goals to pursue. Even when I didn’t do the things I was supposed to, I ended up doing other useful things such as sorting out finances, reading a useful book. I stayed in the study and didn’t go wondering off, pottering, eating something etc. etc. As I moved through the day, I marked off my achievements and made notes to help with the next day’s plan.
It has become apparent that my to do list didn’t include many fun things or much variety which made it hard going. Week 2 (in green) doesn’t look hugely exciting either, does it? I could do with chunking down some of these tasks into smaller items to give me scope for more successes and generate a bit of momentum. Something to think about.
The only day I didn’t plan is today (Sunday) and what do you know? After a very lethargic start, it has not been a very productive day and I have rather missed having items to tick off the list. So, I am going to keep up with my blocks and am ready to plan my Monday. The grid is updated and I have blank set of 100 blocks waiting for me. Thank you Tim!