What happens when you finally get on board with the whole time-blocking thing? You’ve got your planner, it’s a brand new year, you have your highlighters and color coding down, you know your ideal schedule, and you’re ready to rock this thing! But then, you start mapping it out, and you quickly see that what you put down on paper is far from the reality you’re actually living as an overwhelmed mom with a crazy schedule!
It’s so hard to show up to that paper planner, to those time blocks, to the routine stacks, to the tidy cues, to all the things. You’re wondering when you’ll actually have time for yourself. Your time blocks aren’t working out at the time you scheduled them, your plans are going out the window, and you feel like you’ve wasted your time and begin to feel frustrated and defeated.
Well, good news for you! If you have felt any of those things, you’re going get a peak into Chelsi coaching a student from the Systemize Your Life Academy who is also experiencing all of the same things! In this conversation, they’re diving into the nooks and crannies of her life, and you’re going to see what it actually feels like to get these questions answered. I want to share this incredible opportunity for you to see direct feedback and coaching to an overwhelmed mom who is trying so hard to get it just right. Are you ready to see what it’s like on an Academy group coaching call? It’s your lucky day! Let’s get started!
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
See What One Overwhelmed Mom is Going Through
Mom: This is my first time doing one of these live calls. I’ve been a long-time podcast listener. I’m finally ready to have these systems in place. This week is the first week I’ve tried to make sense of the Five Block System. I’ve run into some challenges because I have a job where I work as a college admissions counselor, but it’s part-time. I’m also a part-time stay-at-home mom. Everything in my day is extremely flexible. I can decide when I do my work (which is great) but it also makes planning the day challenging. It’s challenging to put things into blocks because I’m not that organized.
I tend to just jumble everything up. For example, I might be doing laundry and then I’m doing something in the kitchen, and then I’m answering this email, then doing something again for the household, then back again for work. It’s very messy. My job is really unpredictable. The students are like my clients and I never know when they’re going to reach out to me, and want something. I can control some of that, but I also need to be responsive.
One of the challenges I’ve had with the time blocks is whether am I putting household-related work in the same blocks as my admissions work. When I think about my AM block, I think that should be related to my family and being a stay-at-home mom. My work block should be my admissions work. Then my PM block should feel like more stay-at-home mom stuff. Because of the nature of my job, it’s ALL happening at the same time.
Because I’m such a perfectionist when I’m trying to make these color-coded things if my schedule changes the colors are shifting and my paper planner is ugly. It makes me freak out! I just need some help to work through this.
Chelsi: This is great. These are very normal and common questions. It’s great that you came to one of the calls because you can get a lot of clarity and a lot of support. Just for context, how old are your kiddos?
Mom: Ten and fifteen. They go to school during the day.
Chelsi: What hours are the kids out of the house?
Mom: 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Even when they’re home because they’re so much older they have a lot of independence. I can still be working at 4 p.m. even when they are home.
Chelsi: That gives me more context. My biggest question for you is, what do you really want your day to look like? What would be ideal for you, what are you hoping for? What was the dream in your head when you found this program?
Mom: For me, I’m thinking it wasn’t the scheduling that I first wanted from this program, but I keep getting stuck on the scheduling. I want things like getting organized with meal planning. Getting a command center organized is something I really wanted, and that’s really helped me. When I think about my days though, I just feel like I have no systems. Everything is just “oh that needs attention, let me do it.” For example, I don’t have specific laundry days. I just do laundry when I want to do it. Everything is like that for me. I’m just reactive.
How to Make Time Blocks Work For an Overwhelmed Mom
Chelsi: The reason why I ask that is that hearing you saying that being organized is not really in your nature. I like to know how much are you wanting to flip this thing upside down and shake everything up. How much are you really wanting to go into that?
Here’s what I would say about the schedule. First and foremost, when things don’t work out right.
What you described with the AM and PM block is exactly how I designed it to feel because I think that is natural for any woman who assumes the house, children, and working role. That is just kind of how it feels with kids around. However, is it always clean-cut and perfect? Absolutely not!
What we’re trying to do is get you into a place where your brain is able to segment and focus on what you’re doing and when you show up. You shouldn’t be going from thing to thing and then back again over and over. It shouldn’t be this constant putting out fires, and not focusing on one thing. It should feel like, “OK this is my AM block. I’m going all in with the things I need to do for my house and my family.” That way during your work block, you can sit down and go all-in with what you need to do for work. Then when the PM block comes around again you are back all-in with what your family needs.
The outskirts of the day- whether that’s fifteen minutes or an hour before you go to bed and right when you wake up should be your nighttime and morning routines. They are the time reserved for yourself when you’re not being pulled by your children or work. That’s what these five blocks are designed for.
When Your Schedule Doesn’t Look Like the Ideal
Chelsi: The tricky part is how do we get your life to fit into these blocks? You’re realizing that these parts of your life are not fitting cleanly into blocks. What are some ways we can begin to shape the way you are routinely going through your day? What you’re routinely doing right now is not segmented to allow you to focus on what you’re doing right now. Time blocks were created to help you segment and focus on what you’re doing where you’re at.
The paper planner helps you sit down and design your productive week. That is your goal and what you’re shooting for. When you lay that out on the weekend before you go into Monday, realize that it’s not going to go perfectly according to that plan. That’s OK. I never go back and fix mine mid-week. That’s because I know that even if things got crazy and I couldn’t work the way I wanted then I look at what is the very next block.
What do I need to do for the very next thing? Or what do I need to shift? What do I need to adjust? Do I need to shift my work block into part of my PM block and do a quick dinner? What can I shift and adjust right now to get back on track for the rest of the day? I’m always thinking about how to navigate to the next time block so I’m always focused.
I use the blocks as my guide and my framework for the week, and I set it up as the ideal for what I want. I do my very best to hit those targets, but when they don’t work out, I improvise, adapt, and overcome. Another example of that is me saying to my husband, “My work block got cut short because of something out of my control. I’m going to need to work this evening. Can you take bedtime so I can start my work block and then I can get to bed on time?”
My kids are five and ten years old. There are times when they get sick, and the whole week goes out. It’s just a loss. We do what we can to get back in it, but for the most part, we’re dealing with scaling back as much as possible. We just have to deal with the circumstances we have at the moment.
Dealing with an Inconsistent Work Schedule
Chelsi: Now, for your work schedule. I worked for a long time as a sign-language interpreter. A job would come in, and I had to respond immediately or someone else would get the gig. I needed the hours, so I had to immediately respond. Then I had to go do the work. Whether that was at 6 p.m. the next day, or I had to leave in thirty minutes, or it was an all-day thing on Friday. There was just a lot happening. From my own experience, I would suggest you put down what your ideal hours are.
If you can schedule your ideal hours with this job, schedule them. If something happens for work inside another block, deal with it as quickly as you can. Then reserve the rest (as much as you can) for the next work blocks. It’s ok for you to have work blocks in other places. It doesn’t have to be 12-4 p.m. every day. You can move things around. It just means you’re going to have to expend more energy on always looking at the calendar.
Try to get most of your work done during a set work block. For you, the biggest thing is going to be getting your fundamental needs on the calendar. Stick to your fundamental needs, and make sure those are getting done.
If you want to have consistency with laundry, when you get your to-dos done, and care for yourself, you’ve got to show up to your fundamental needs before anything else. That should be the staple for you right now. Then you can figure out how to fit your work around those things.
Mom: This has been so helpful! I’m really glad I came on this call. My perfectionism was getting in the way of how I used this paper planner.
Chelsi: I’m glad that you’re here! We hear from a lot of people that perfectionism holds them back. I too can be a perfectionist, but I have found this tool useful. Even though I know time blocks like the back of my hand, it’s still something I do every week. It’s ok if it’s not perfect because we’re going to show up and try again!
“What are some ways we can begin to shape the way you are going through your day? What you’re doing right now is not segmented to allow you to focus on what you’re doing. Time blocks were created to help you segment and focus on what you’re doing where you’re at.”
You Can Get This Same Live Coaching
Well, there you have it. I know that after you get to experience this back and forth and dialogue with someone else who’s asking the same questions you have, there comes so much clarity. You’re probably wanting to ask your own questions now and dig deeper, learn, and grow even more.
If you are saying to yourself, “I want Chelsi to talk to me, to know how old my kids are, and talk to me about my AM block, my routine stacks, and all the things. I want her organizational brain to look at and help me with my schedule! I’m tired of feeling like the overwhelmed mom who can’t get it together.”
I have good news for you! When you become a member of the Systemize Your Life Academy, you get free access to this coaching with me every single week! It comes with the program. It’s such a great experience and my favorite part of the entire program. Of course, I love the curriculum. With the program you get to take away all the education, you get to go into the nitty gritty of my four-week framework that takes you from overwhelmed mom to organized. This is where you’re going to learn the nuts and bolts of my entire system.
You can also get all of my systems for business because right now there is a bonus where you can snag Systemize Your Biz along with my home system which is Systemize Your Life Academy. If you want more details on how you can get lifetime access to the curriculum in both of those.
If you want access to all my systems in all of it-learning how to set up time blocks, routine stacks, and your fundamental needs, communicate these systems to your family so they’re on board as well, and automate your tasks instead of constantly trying to recreate the wheel every week. It also includes access to my meal planning system, my budgeting system, and my marriage retreat system. All of that is in the Academy, plus the group coaching! It is a steal of a deal! Just go to chelsijo.co/academy. You can find more details on how you can join this program.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Fundamental Needs and how can I make those a part of my schedule?
As a busy mom, your priorities should be at the forefront when you are planning your week. Using the paper planner to create your ideal week should always include your Fundamental Needs. To learn what your Fundamental Needs are, download my FREE workbook. This workbook will help you learn what your needs are to thrive every week, how to schedule your needs before everything else in your week, and how to routinely show up for those needs!