I've come to realize I have had a pretty bad case of time blindness these past few months.
If you have ADHD you might be familiar, but for those who aren't: time blindness can show up in people in different ways. For me in particular, I find it rears up in two:
- The first is that I have so much that I want or need to get done that I just spiral. My brain "overheats" and I end up either getting nothing done at all, or a bunch of very small bits of different things done, but not done enough to feel good about it.
- The second way is that I'll hyperfocus on something for 8 hours, but end up disregarding all my goals or responsibilities for the day.
This is, perhaps shockingly, not an ideal way to live my life. It's doubly painful because I have so many endeavors that I'm interested in: writing, music production, game development - and I have to balance that with the fact that I have a lot media I want to consume too. When I'm working on something I'm wishing I was making progress in a game, and when I'm reading a book I wish I was working on a personal project. And that's on top of the work I have to do so that capitalism doesn't tear me apart.
It's a lot to deal with! I know that I have to come to terms with the fact that I won't do everything I want to do, but I also think there's a way to mitigate the anxiety of handling my time so I don't get paralyzed and end up doing anything at all.
So I decided to try my hand at Time Blocking!
What's Time Blocking?
Time Blocking is, on its face, pretty simple. Basically, you chunk out your time on a calendar, and then do the stuff on your calendar when it happens. For people who don't struggle with time management that probably sounds super simple to the point of being unnecessary. You might think, "yeah, I just tell myself to wash the sheets at 10 AM, and then I wish the sheets at 10 AM." But you see, my brain is broken. I am extremely proficient at self-sabotaging and procrastinating. "I'll just wash the sheets in another half-hour, and then push the rest of my schedule back to compensate!"
This just leads to me procrastinating more and more, or skipping a task, and so on and so forth. I have a to-do list, but looking at it just leads to me blanking out at a wall of stuff that I don't know where to start with.
But trying out time blocking this past week has completely helped me shift my mindset here and get a lot done that I want to get done.
How I've Been Time Blocking
The key app that helped me start Time Blocking is called Morgen. It's a calendar app that syncs with your own calendar and lets you add tasks, or import tasks from other apps like todoist, to the calendar. When you're done with the task, you check it off, and that's it.
Again, pretty simple, but once I started doing it it really helped things click for my brain in a way I wasn't expecting. You can see what ended up happening with my own calendar (with some privacy censoring, lol).
I started building out my tasks and putting them in chunks. I get a reminder that the task is coming at the 45, 30, 10, and 0-minute mark. That probably sounds egregious, but part of the struggle with my ADHD is pulling away from something I'm doing to start on the next thing I want to do. And if I'm doing nothing at all, the struggle becomes pushing the rock up the hill in the first place.
What's really important for this method has been making a ritual out of blocking out my time at the beginning of the day. By committing to the stuff I want to get done at specific times, I let the calendar take the wheel, so to speak. My brain doesn't overheat thinking about everything it wants to do or needs to do, because the calendar is holding all that information for me. If I feel overwhelmed or lost, I just have to pull up Morgen, and I'm good to go.
I also pair this with a Pomodoro timer that I added to my stream deck. My other big problem with my ADHD is constantly getting distracted by other stuff, so focusing in 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks can be very helpful. Especially when it comes to tasks for my job - I like the work I do, but I don't particularly care about it, and it's very, very hard for me to focus on stuff that isn't actively engaging and interesting to me.
Future Updates to Time Blocking
What I've got going has been a great start! I feel like I've gotten more done this week than I have since I finished grad school. But I have further experimenting I want to do with this calendar strat. I've seen a couple of alternatives/additions to Time Blocking, like:
Rather than putting in a specific task in this block of time, I'd use this to do a bunch of small things all at once in a group. As an example: reading through the 3000 Slack threads I got tagged in that I probably have nothing to do with. This'll help me to not context switch as often, which is great, because context switching absolutely obliterates my ability to focus.
This would be particularly helpful because I have so many different things I like to focus on, but I need to think about how I do it a little more. Day theming basically just lets me decide what I'm going to do project-wise on a given day. So Monday might be all for writing, Tuesday would be for working on new music, etc., etc. That being said, this would probably be more useful if I didn't have a full-time job, so I could focus on my personal work entirely...but uh, that's not really an option, lol.
So yeah! That's my current strategy, and it's really been helping with my certified Bad Brain™️ moments. You can't see it on my example as I just added it, but I've even started blocking out the time I spend on games and reading too. That said, my Sundays will continue to be completely unstructured: I think it's good and healthy to have that mixed in.
How do you structure your time? Do you think something like this would be helpful for you? Lemme know, here or on Cohost!