Around the Block

We started our trip around the time suction block by coming to the conclusion Time is valuable. At the end of the street, we look down the next segment of the block and determined the difference between rewarding time spent and time suck. The third section of the block was finding where our me/leisure time becomes a time suck. This is the last leg. Can you see home?


The only way to determine whether or not we are wasting time or doing something rewarding is to set priorities. Sound overwhelming? It is not. Sound judgmental? It is. Hate it? You will love the results.

Make a list of the things you (need to, should, want to) do this week. Embrace your inner OCD. List everything from your morning (what you answered on the last poll) to daydreaming.

Cut out 112 blocks. These are the hours available (giving you eight hours to pretend to sleep). If you are not handy with scissors, you can add the numbers from the next section to see how close they come to 112.

All scheduled.


The very first priority scale is fairness. To (balance, bend, manufacture) time, you must divide the blocks amongst the tasks evenly, at first. This does not mean you must spend an equal amount of time cleaning your bathroom as you do working in the yard. It does mean you need to budget at least one block of time per task. The blocks do not have to be the same size.

Ticking Clock

Tick Tock

  • Dishes: Three minutes…one to delegate, two to follow up
  • Yard Work: Two hours, this week seed
  • Hygiene: One hour, bath, teeth, facial
  • Education: Three hours, read book
  • Socializing: Five hours, date with Mate/Quaint
  • Health: 80 minutes, 20 minutes times four
  • Absolutely Nothing: Two hours, 48 minutes
  • ___________: XXX minutes/hours

Be realistic when you assign blocks of time. If you can finish the task in 12 minutes, giving it an hour means you have other plans for the remaining 48 minutes. Do not disguise the time. Be honest. Give the task 15 minutes. Assign the remaining 45 minute block to what you planned to do with it anyway…even if it is nothing.

Out of Blocks

Do you still have things to do, but no more blocks? Prioritize. What on that list can get less time? Shift the smaller blocks to other tasks.

What can you cross of the list? Before you reassign the blocks, look at the other things on the list and answer the next question honestly.

What can you put off?

Take out the blocks you can eliminate by reduction or deletion.

If you think this is permission to procrastinate, raise your hand. Guess what? It is. Provided what you are procrastinating is not a matter of life, death, national security, health, child welfare or sanity, schedule it for another time. This is not permission to forego the obligations you must accomplish, however.

Prioritize the things you must do. Before you give all of the blocks to the have to do it list, make sure time for yourself and your family and friends is on the have to do it list.

Blocks Left Over

Nowhere in the time management handbook is there a rule which says you must use all the blocks. If you forgot Section VI, Sub-part 2, Paragraph D, it states, in pertinent part:

Spontaneity is good for your inner child and mental health.

Having left over blocks does not mean you did not read the directions (like the leftover three bolts, four washers and two nuts from the swing set). It means you have prioritized your activities to allow for free time.

Free time takes the pressure off of you to complete everything R.I.G.H.T. N.O.W. It allows you some space for those last minute requests for you to (help, volunteer, be pressed into servitude). It affords you time to relax your mind and body.

Remember, when you schedule the appropriate amount of time, you worry less, succeed more and become more confident.

What do I do with it?   

Time to prioritize again. Do you have a big project you have not been able to complete? Would you like a vacation (even a stay at home one)? Could you use a nap? Want to bend time? How about a Red example?

One hour from Red’s schedule:

0800   Add a post
0810   Research, create art, edit
0820  Gather school supplies
0830  Teach spelling/science
0845  Final reread, schedule post
0850  Grade spelling/science, reinforce
0900  Coffee, morning kiddle snack

Today, the 0820 slot was empty. The school supplies were left over from the 0700 hour class. The 10 minute block became empty. Red shifted the 0845 block to the empty slot and started the lesson five minutes early. Red moved another block from later in the day to 0850.

Lather, rinse, repeat. During the day, this process of is repeated to create a much larger block later in the day. Any idea what could go into the larger block?

  • Nap
  • Recreation
  • Hobby
  • Entertainment
  • Socialization
  • Project from another day
  • Something foregone on past day
  • Nothing

Think of rearranging the blocks in your day like a puzzle. When you move the pieces to fit together in a different way, you can create larger sections of free time…especially when you move the empty slot adjacent to a scheduled free time. In the picture, the incomplete top row holds a space, but did you guess there should be another row on top of it to fill the same space?

Rearrange them to make the shape for your activity.

Still not big enough…

When you say I do not have time to take off, you are not eating the elephant. If you can commit to moving portions of bigger projects into your free slots, you can knock out those things which will create large sections of time where you can do (nothing, vacation, something you want to do).

Exercise your spatial abilities by rearranging your blocks to create larger sections of free time. The reward of filling it with more enjoyable tasks (or nothing) is grand.

Look at tomorrow. Can you create a block of free time? If you could create a week long block, with what would you fill it? Are you looking at time (and especially time sucks) differently? Is there something you want to make a priority which is not right now because you did not have the time?

© Red Dwyer 2012
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  1. I have certainly enjoyed reading your postings again this week Red and although I am definitely no list writer I do enjoy free time to myself whenever the opportunity arises…

    I guess throughout a typical week I can gather quite a lot of ‘Me Time’ but only when everything has been done, well I do have the tasks in hand and know just when to complete them so as not to waste even more time but I am no genius either, indeed we all have the chances to fulfil a set of daily actions…

    I don’t like the word routine and so I am more often than not spontaneous in whatever I am doing and that is on everything unless there has to be a set time of course, as with appointments, but in general I like to do as I wish, and to be honest it works very well for me so I have no complaints…

    Free time is very rewarding so always enjoy it…

    Androgoth XXx

    • Red

       /  April 3, 2012

      After I retired, I had to make a point to find “me time”. You would think when I quit the work-a-day world, I would have “me time” in abundance. I found the opposite to be true. Even now, I schedule times to ignore work (even housework) to do something completely frivolous or enjoyable. I also have become rather adroit at moving things I do not want to do today to another schedule on another day 😉

  2. You always have the time, it is just allocated in ways you would rather it not be. People will always find the time for the things they like. This whole ‘block’ visual was a nice way to lay it all out.
    Derek Mansker recently posted..Living godliness in an ungodly world.My Profile

    • Red

       /  April 4, 2012

      Glad you liked it. I could not pass the play on words. It helped we had been racing Hot Wheels for a couple hours 😉 An excellent allocation of time, BTW.

      • Hey I would enjoy playing Hot Wheels with you all, I am a big kid you know? 🙂 lol Actually do you have any of those trick track thingys where the cars just fly off into the wilderness? Oooh I like those the best 🙂 Yes okay enough said 😉 lol

        Androgoth XXx

        • Red

           /  April 4, 2012

          We actually have one which is a werewolf…complete with howl. They love them as well…which includes Bear. 😉

          • Yes I figured that he would
            be just like me, well sort of 🙂 😉 lol

            Androgoth XXx

        • Bear

           /  April 4, 2012

          Andro, I spend a lot of time playing with real hot wheels. Of course that’s only when Red is riding in one. She makes me howl!!!!!!!

  3. Definately a subject I struggle with. Lots of good advice. Angie
    Angela recently posted..You may not always get what you want, but in Christ you always get what you need.My Profile

    • Red

       /  April 4, 2012

      When it broke down into building blocks, it became very easy to grasp!

  4. I have too few blocks and not enough time! I think someone has been stealing my blocks.

    And what’s a kiddle snack? Is that like kibble made out of kids? Or maybe kibble made for kids?
    Binky recently posted..Cosmic InsignificanceMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 4, 2012

      The two concepts are interchangeable here. Sometimes, the kibble is made of kiddle… especially when they lose the blocks.

  5. Some excellent ideas here, Red.
    Though I find the approach of listing all the tasks I have to get to, sorting them by priority, then mixing them up so that I’m not on several high priority, high stress tasks in a row, is a better method for me. I’m terrible at predicting time necessary, and find getting through the task is more rewarding than coming to the end of the time block.
    El Guapo recently posted..She Said/He Said – ShoesMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 4, 2012

      Like you, I refuse to do top down priority when it involves too many pressured activities. I often schedule something completely mindless (like ten pages in my logic puzzles book) in between the assorted gradu I am expected to accomplish.

  6. I love the visual!!

    I need to start thinking this way, really hard thinking this way. My time is being sucked in useless exercises of futility right now.

    I am bookmarking this one and coming back to it.
    valentinelogar recently posted..Cover your Head WomanMy Profile

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