Tranquility By Tuesday #5: Create A Backup Slot

Tranquility By Tuesday #5: Create A Backup Slot
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One of the things I struggle with during my planning is that plans never go according to plan. Something changes and all of a sudden I am running away from the huge rock ala Indiana Jones. Rule #5 from Tranquility By Tuesday* tells me I need to create a backup slot.

GTD: Put Tasks on the Calendar

One of the concepts of Getting Things Done* was put put things on the calendar. I balked when I realized that this meant putting tasks on the calendar. I have far too much to do in any given day to list things out because my life is spent doing little tasks, not grand projects.

So I put that concept aside.

I tried block planning many other times over the years, but I found that no matter what I did, I would plan the day, and something would derail me, and then I would be flattened by the rock of undone tasks, always running to try and catch up.

General Slots Are Good Blocks

This goes along with Rule #2: Plan On Fridays. When we plan a week at a time, we can designate time in blocks to do things. I like this, because I can set aside chunks of time to work on the big areas of my life like writing, crafting and music. I can also set aside time to handle chunks of the smaller stuff, like housework and other household tasks.

Identifying Pinch Points

I also know where the pinch points in my schedule are. These are the times, when due to the other things on my plan, I know that I might have time or energy issues.

I never plan tasks on Wednesdays, for instance. I am in the office that day, and when I get home I have 30 minutes to change and eat before I am out the door to choir.

I also know that Friday afternoons, while open, are not going to see me doing much. I am done with the week, and scheduling housework or exercising in that time means I am not going to do it. I am more willing to do computer tasks during that time, and so that is when I do my planning.

Weekly Planning With Blocks

When I weekly plan, I set first lay out the calendar stuff. Then I start filling in blocks for exercise and music practicing, and then dinner prep for the four nights that my husband and I are home during the week,

Next I will look at my big projects and slot them in. I put in at least one block for blogging, one block for writing, and a block for crafting. These are usually full evenings. Monday I work on the blog, Wednesday after choir is for crafting, and Tuesday is for writing.

Then I add blocks in for the small stuff: grocery shopping, housework, desk time.

Backup Slots

Not all blocks need a backup. My big tasks of writing, blogging and crafting, while important to me, don’t have earthshaking consequences if not done.

But the smaller tasks like grocery shopping and housework significantly impact quality of living if they are skipped, so it made sense for me to put in backup blocks for these.

My housework, for example, has a block on Thursday when I clean the kitchen, and then another block on Thursday when I clean my zone. Since Thursday is a low-energy day, I might not get to it, so I put a single backup block on Saturday right before dinner, and one Sunday morning.

What If You Get It Done Before the Backup Block?

In the case where I get things done before a backup block, I treat that block as a treat. I can read a book, work a puzzle, watch television or craft. It’s like the free space on a bingo card.

Since I have been doing this, I have never had to use the backup block on Sunday for housecleaning.

What If The Backup Block Isn’t Enough?

My first thought on doing backup blocks for housework was, “What if I don’t get it all done?”

The answer I arrived at was “Let it go”. If I have worked an hour and a half and I still don’t have all the housework done, then it doesn’t get done. I don’t take time away from other blocks to make it happen. An hour and a half is plenty of time to make the house good enough.

End Results

I’ve been happy with this approach. It has lessened my stress level, and I am getting far more done than if I were to approach it in catch up mode. Even on those days when I don’t hit all my tasks and blocks, I still get far more done than I was doing before.

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