Self Care

A simple tip to reduce stress and get more done

Being an independent creator turns you into some sort of multitasking uber-robot. There are always a million things to juggle, and keeping them all in your head can burn you out.

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Most creators suffer from self-employed slump from time to time. But I’ve found this little change to how I plan my week to be really helpful.

Plan your time, not just your interruptions

Most of us use our calendars wrong. We put in appointments, calls, meetings... in short, all the things that mean we can’t do our work. Time Blocking is where you plan out the tasks you want to accomplish in your day, adding them to your calendar. This helps you commit to your priorities and keep an eye on whether tasks are overrunning your estimates of how long they should take.

It also helps you to keep steady when clients and colleagues try to demand your time. By filling your calendar with the work you need to do, you get a quick visual guide to when you’re next actually free.

But best of all, at least for me, is the way this brings all of your tasks, projects, meetings, reminders, doo-dahs and wot-nots into a single place. Once it’s in your calendar, that’s the only thing you need to look at, and it gives you peace of mind to know that everything’s planned out.

Step one: there’s only one step

The beauty of time blocking is that it doesn’t need any new apps, no migration of all your tasks, no fussing around with productivity bureaucracy. It’s just a matter of adding work time to your calendar.

I do my week’s planning on a Sunday night, then tweak it at the end of every work day (because no plans entirely survive contact with the real world). But you could easily do it first thing in the morning too, if that’s when your brain works better (you can find out with this little experiment).

Something for Trello users

I’m a huge fan of Trello as my single point of truth. If you’re a Trello user too, there are two extensions that help you use it to block your time more effortlessly.

1: Trello Connector by Cronofy — a simple two-way connection between Trello and your Google / Outlook / iCloud calendar. Anything with a due date in Trello appears on that date in your calendar; you can then move it around and change its duration to schedule it in.
Free for one board, $1.99 / month for unlimited boards.

2: Planyway Calendar for Trello — if you need a bit more control, you might want to give Planyway a try. As well as syncing with your calendar, it’s also built in to the Trello interface so you don’t even need to switch apps. You’ll need the $2.99 / month Pro version to have two-way control of your calendar, or the $6 / month Team plan lets you sort your tasks by member and board: good if you work with others or have lots of project boards on the go.