Tinkering With Ideas #021: Planning your day

publishedabout 1 month ago
3 min read

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!

1) Reflection:

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.

  • One very early in the morning (hello #5amwritersclub) for my own projects
  • One starting around 9:00 am until I'm ready for lunch
  • One in the afternoon, maybe, if I didn't finish up my client work from the morning (or had a meeting or some other interruption during that time)

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.

2) Product:

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.

3) Tip:

My life is pretty much ruled by my calendars. Yes, plural. I have multiple calendars because it's easier to stay organized.

  1. A personal calendar: Dentist appointments, yoga classes, etc.
  2. A family calendar: My spouse and I have a shared Google account and calendar so we can add kid events, family commitments, etc.
  3. A work calendar

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

LinkedIn | Threads | Medium | Substack

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!)

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Anna Burgess Yang

I'm a workflow geek, remote work evangelist, and #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. I educate and equip people to take control of their time and energy, their money, the tools they use, and their careers. I also like naps.

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