Hi Reader 👋 -
Happy Wednesday. I'm writing this while eating Unexpected Cheddar Spread from Trader Joe's. I've been a fan of Unexpected Cheddar for a long time, but the spread is next level. Smear it on crackers. Boom. Snack. If you live near a Trader Joe's, go get some, stat.
And also, if you love Trader Joe's, can you reply and tell me your favorite item? I'm always on the lookout for new things to try!
I'm a big fan of time blocking so this image from Janis Ozolins caught my eye.
Yes, happens all the time. A task takes longer than planned.
And oh no — if you time block, please don't stack all of your blocks on top of each other (like on the left). That's a recipe for failure.
These days, I have 2-3 main blocks per day.
Then I have a few tiny blocks in the morning and afternoon to spend time on social media and in communities because that's how I generate new business.
But my blocks are fairly fluid. Having two or three leaves a lot of room for "things not going as planned." If I get everything wrapped up in the morning, great! If not, I have a backup block of time in the afternoon.
Back in my pre-solopreneur life, my calendar was often at the mercy of other people. I'd have my time blocks perfectly planned out and then someone would drop a meeting on my calendar, forcing me to shuffle things around.
I'm a big fan of AI-powered calendar assistants like Reclaim and Motion. If someone schedules a meeting on your calendar, the product will "move" your time block for a project, checking email, eating lunch, or whatever to the next available slot. So your "catch up on email" time might be at 9:00 am one day, 9:30 the next day, etc.
You also establish parameters like if a project is due and you need time to work on it, the block won't move. If someone's trying to schedule a meeting using an app like Calendly, it will show that time as busy.
I don't have a need for a calendar assistant like that now, but when I was using one, I really liked it. Full disclosure: I've only used Reclaim, haven't tried Motion.
My life is pretty much ruled by my calendars. Yes, plural. I have multiple calendars because it's easier to stay organized.
I learned long ago not to add personal stuff to my work calendar. What if you leave the job? Instead, I add it to my personal calendar and "invite" my work calendar. Same with family stuff, if I need to show that time as "busy."
My time blocks are tied to my GSuite business account, but on a separate calendar. That way, I can see the day's plans without the time showing as "busy" for clients trying to schedule meetings (my alternative since I'm not using a tool like Reclaim anymore).
All of the calendars are shared with each other, so I can see them all overlapping in Google. Different colors for each calendar help me understand the day's activities at a glance.
That's it for this issue of Tinkering! See you again in two weeks.
Anna Burgess Yang
Want more ideas?
→ I've been pondering the meaning of and motivation behind my Substack and finally wrote it all out. (And if you have a work story you'd like to share, there's a form in the post to submit!)
→ Read about organizing client files in folders (I use a variation of this technique to organize client drafts!)
If you're enjoying this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. Sharing is caring. Or you can buy me a coffee and fuel my writing habit.
Writer. Productivity geek. Always tinkering.
I share tips, tools, and resources to make your daily life a bit easier.
Hello fellow tinkerer 👋 - It's Friday. As I write this, I can hear birds chirping, which (hopefully) means spring is around the corner... ?! 1) Reflection: Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn't — but it's Friday and I usually send my newsletter on Wednesday. Wednesday was Valentine's Day in the U.S. but that wasn't the reason. Tuesday was my daughter's birthday. She died when I was 16 weeks pregnant, back in 2016. For whatever reason, her birthday hit me particularly hard this year. I didn't...
Hi friend 👋 - You made it to the end of January. Whew. How are you feeling about 2024 so far? January is a slow month for me with client work. It was the same in 2023. But November and December are always wildly busy, so I'm trying to appreciate the change of pace. Plus, if you live in the U.S., you've been receiving your tax forms. Tax preparation has been demanding a bunch of my time. As humorist Dave Barry says, "It's income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get...
Hi friend 👋 - Happy Wednesday. I’m typing out this edition of the newsletter in the Notes on my iPhone. I’ve been in Orlando for the past few days and managed to accidentally forget my laptop charger. So I’ve used my laptop only intermittently to reply to a few things and then it ran out of juice. When I’m taking time off, I don’t do client work. But running my own business means things come up. An inquiry came through my website and I wanted to reply. I’ll also keep working on things like...