I Tried to Plan Every Minute of My Day and This Is What Happened

I’ll admit, I’m probably one of the worst procrastinators out there. I think that I have everything under control so I wait until the last minute possible and surprisingly, there’s not enough time to finish everything. This causes a whole cycle of frustration that culminates at the end of the week: I get super stressed out trying to catch up with all of the deadlines, and vow to never procrastinate again. Spoiler alert: I usually don’t keep my promise.

During one of my procrastination sessions, I stumbled upon the “productivity” section of YouTube (oh the irony). Here, I learned about a method called "time blocking". Time blocking is a calendar system in which you organize your time into time "blocks.” You can use as many blocks as you want, but to be truly reaping the benefits of the system you must set a block for every task that you set to do for the day, not just productive tasks. As a chronic procrastinator, I thought this would be the best technique to prevent myself from wasting my time. Elon Musk does it, so I figured it must be useful. For the next week, I was going to plan to the dot exactly when I was going to eat, sleep, exercise, study, work, or unwind. After doing that, here are my final pros and cons.

Pro: You always have something to do.

When your day is time blocked, you always have something to do. You officially have no excuse to not be doing what you should be doing because it’s all been premeditated. I think this helped me feel more accountable for being extremely lazy. I was watching Netflix, but planned to draft a paper, and seriously, the guilt was too real and real enough that I would force myself to get back to work. 

Pro: I remember more things. 

I literally can forget anything in the matter of minutes. I'm basically that person who "loses their glasses" when they're wearing them. Even when I intend to work on something the next day, I just forget it in passing and I can't help it. I use to-do lists to help me remember the little things. When I was planning my day the night before, I looked at a list of all the things I need to do and therefore scheduled accordingly. With time blocking, I could look at a day in a more intuitive and comprehensive manner (rather than a lists of tasks with no structure) and make sense of how to manage my time.

Pro: Free time feels more like free time. 

Do you ever take long breaks during the day from being productive but get stressed out thinking about how much you’re going to have to do afterwards?  After trying this for a week, I noticed that I was less anxious when unwinding. Knowing exactly what happens next miraculously lifts a huge burden off of your chest, assuming that you actually follow through with your schedule.

Con: Unexpected events ruin everything. 

When that friend you haven’t seen in a while asks you to get dinner now but you’re supposed to go somewhere at 7:45 p.m., your perfect schedule usually flops. This pushes back everything else, and you’re officially back to square one of uncontrollable stress. For many of us, life is pretty unpredictable and sometimes you just have to go with the flow, which involves ditching the time block.

Con: It's not always accurate. 

After time blocking for the past week, I realized that I was horrific at determining how much time a task would actually take. I would start a task and it would take longer to complete than I imagined. I would be forced to take more time and cut into the time that was dedicated to my next task. It would create a ripple effect of being behind in my schedule. It only really becomes a problem when things start to take longer than you expect. Again, everything gets pushed back and the whole process of planning becomes extremely counterintuitive.

Con: Experiecing procrastination. 

If you think this is some miracle tip to help cure your procrastination, I hate to break it to you, but it won’t. There were a couple of days where I was still too tired, too bored, or too bothered to do anything. You can only cure your procrastination with your own willpower, and this is just a way to manage the time for when you do.

My final thoughts: I think time blocking is useful for people that follow similar schedules during the week. The idea of scheduling every waking minute of the day became too constricting for me, especially when unexpected events popped up. I think I would continue doing this except maybe use fewer time blocks to allow for more leeway. However, I can’t lie but say that when I tried time blocking, I felt a lot more productive. It could be some sort of placebo effect, but I recommend you try it for a week and see for yourself.

Sources: 1

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