Welcome to Part 1 of my How to Easily Manage Your Home series, where I will be walking you through how to set up simple systems and routines that will basically Put Your Home on Autopilot.
This will essentially be a Home Management 101 Minicourse. So if that sounds like something you would be into, be sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss any content!
If you want to be sure you stay up to date on all the routines we will be creating along the way, you can grab my Easy Home Management Checklist and check each routine off as you create it.
So let’s go ahead and get started with the First Step to easily managing our homes, and that is to create a Daily Block Schedule.
And if you prefer to watch your content instead of reading, feel free to follow along on YouTube:
Why Should Every Mom Have a Daily Block Schedule
I know that’s a pretty bad statement… but yes, I think EVERY mom should have a Daily Block Schedule!
Because Block Schedules will give you the structure that you and your kids crave while giving you the flexibility that will work for real life!
How to Create a Daily Block Schedule:
Ok, let’s get started!
1) Choose Your Weapon
To create your block schedule, you will need a piece of paper, or a notebook to write everything down on.
I would just recommend that you have a notebook or a binder that us a dedicated Home Management Binder.
Then you will know exactly where all of your routines are located and you will be able to easily find them when you need them.
Or if you’d like, you can grab the printable Home Management Binder that I created for you called the Autopilot Workbook. That has everything you need to set up routines and systems that will have your home running smoothly.
But for everyone else, you will want to turn your paper so that it is horizontal instead of vertical.
Then grab a ruler and a pencil or pen and draw the outline of your template.
You will want your template to have 4-6 long columns with 2 small horizontal boxes at the top of each column. It should look something like this:
3) Decide How Many Blocks Your Day Will Have
I recommend using between 4 and 6 blocks in your day.
If you have any fewer than 4 blocks, your day will feel too flexible because your blocks are too long. But if you have more than 6 it will be too rigid.
Anything between 4 and 6 blocks is just a personal preference though so choose what you think will work best for you.
My template has 6 blocks, but if you are creating your own you can draw in as many as you’d like.
If you aren’t sure how many blocks you should have in your day, just keep reading and it should be more clear. 🙂
4) Choose the length of your blocks
Some people like to have blocks that are exactly the same size (like having 4 blocks that are all 3 hours long if you are basing your schedule off of 12 waking hours, or 6 blocks that are all 4 hours long if basing your schedule off 24 hours).
But my day just isn’t quite that neat. Almost all of my blocks are different lengths based on what I am doing in each block.
So choose whichever will work best for you!
Once you decide how long each of your blocks will be, write down the start and end time of each block on the second line of your block schedule (see the example above if you need a visual :).
5) Name Your Blocks
Once you have the time for each block figured out, decide what you would like each block to be called.
Don’t worry about being too creative here, my first Block of the day is just called Morning Block.
But naming the blocks will help you decide which items should go into each block.
Your block name will go on the first line of your Block Schedule Template.
6) Divide Your Daily Responsibilities
Now take all the things that you might do in a day and organize them in the proper blocks.
As you do this, keep in mind that you won’t do all of these things in the same day.
For example, in my Out and About Block, I have going to the dentist, going to the doctor, going grocery shopping, going to the park, going on a hike… you get the idea.
But I definitely won’t be doing all of that in one day!
Dividing our duties on our block schedule helps us put some organization and structure to our day.
And anytime you need to make an appointment or schedule a playdate, or anything like that, you will know exactly what time you should schedule it.
My oldest daughter and I had a nice little rhythm in our life.
When my second daughter was about to be born, I figured this new addition was going to shake things up a little bit.
Everyone told me that having a toddler and a newborn is no joke. They warned that I should say goodbye to my schedule because our routine was going to get rocked in a big way.
They would give me those “aren’t you adorable” and “you’ll find out soon” looks when I would say that I wasn’t too worried and I knew we would find our rhythm again.
So when my younger daughter was born, I braced myself for the worst. Expecting our life to be turned upside down.
Only… it wasn’t.
Sure, there was a lot more nursing, changing, and napping going on in our house, but our basic rourtine stayed the same.
How is that even possible??
Block scheduling is the best friend of productive minimalist moms. Why?
Because it’s simple.
It provides you with the predictability and structure that you and your children crave, while simultaneously giving you the freedom and flexibility to live a stress-free life. Block Scheduling will make your life easier in the good times… and in the tough times!
Do you feel like there are never enough hours in a day? Like you’re always trying to keep up with the clock?
There’s a Block for that!
Feel like you are always running but never get anything done… while your never-ending to-do list just keeps getting bigger?
There’s a Block for that!
Do you never know when to schedule appointments and your kids end up napping at different times every day?
There’s a Block for that, too!
Do you want to spend more quality time with your family instead of feeling like a bystander watching them enjoy life while you clean up after dinner?
There’s even a Block for that!
Every curve ball that life can throw at you, you can tuck neatly into one of your blocks.
This system has worked for us when I was working outside the home, when I was a stay-at-home mom with a newborn, when I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler, when I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler and a newborn, and now that I am a work-at-home/homeschool mom with a toddler and a preschooler.
And it’s even working for us currently with my husband working at home full-time as well (Coronavirus, anyone?).
So let’s get into how you can create your own block schedule!
And if you prefer to watch instead of read, you can check out this video:
What is Block Scheduling?
Block Scheduling is where you take your day and divide it into neat little sections.
It isn’t too different from any other daily schedule, except for one major thing:
Instead of focusing on individual hours, you focus on blocks of time.
Why does this change everything?
Because blocks give you enough time to get things done without feeling rushed.
They provide breathing room between activities instead of making you feel like you are scurrying from one task to another.
And the blocks provide predictability. When you need to schedule something, you already know where it goes.
Here’s an illustration about the difference.
Picture Christmas Morning. Your children have a pile of gifts to unwrap and they are excited. You are excited too and you want them to enjoy them all as much as possible.
So you decide to let them open them all right away. One right after the other until they are finished.
They are, of course, elated about this and proceed to open each gift as quickly as possible!
Only, they can barely be excited about the one before it is time to open another. And when they are all opened, they aren’t sure which one to play with first, yet they are reluctant to share until they have finished their “job” of playing with everything until they are “done.”
No picture that same Christmas again. The same presents and people are there. But there is one small change.
Instead of opening all the presents at once, they are spaced out to allow each gift to be fully enjoyed before moving on to the next one.
They receive on gift first thing in the morning on Christmas Eve and play with it all day. Before supper on Christmas Eve they get to open another.
On Christmas Day they open their stockings in the morning, then wait until after breakfast for another present. All through the day, they receive one gift at a time until they have enjoyed them all.
Which scenario sounds less stressful?
The one where there is time to be in the moment instead of rushing from task to task.
The occasion was the same, the gifts were the same, and the people were the same, but the feeling was different.
How to Create a Block Schedule
Ready to dig in? Get a notebook and a pen, or you can grab my Autopilot Workbook if you want to use my block schedule template and get your entire house running on autopilot!
1) Divide Your Day Into Blocks
The first thing to do when you are building your block schedule is to… wait for it… divide your day into blocks!
Do you prefer to have fewer, longer blocks in your day? Or shorter, more frequent blocks?
Do you work outside the home? Then you may need a couple of long blocks with some shorter ones sprinkled in.
Do you want all of your blocks to be the same length?
You can divide your day into as many blocks as you think would work for your routine and life. But I recommend that you try 4-7 blocks to start with. (I personally use 5 in my day.)
2) Decide on the Length of Your Blocks
The blocks can be any size that fit your life.
I recommend having your blocks be anywhere from 2-4 hours long, but I wouldn’t go any shorter or longer than that.
As a general rule, If your blocks are too short you won’t get everything done that you need to in that block without feeling rushed. If the blocks are too long, you will feel like you have so much time that you procrastinate… and won’t get anything done!
The only exception to that rule is that if you work outside the home or are a student, you typically have a one-hour block for lunch and errands.
If you aren’t sure what size of blocks to have, start with equal three-hour blocks throughout the day.
You can always adjust them if you need to. 🙂
3) Name Your Blocks
Next, give each block a name or a label.
Don’t overthink this, just use whatever makes sense to you.
For example, my first block of the day is named “Morning Block”…shocking and creative, I know.
The reason that I name my blocks is so that it’s easy to remember which activities belong in each block.
4) Divide Your Daily Responsibilities
Now decide what types of activities will go into each block.
For example, our second block of the day is our Out and About Block and goes from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Here are the activities that would go into this category: Grocery Shopping, Trips to the Park, Doctor’s Appointments, Music Lessons, Dentist Appointments, Play Dates, Trips to the Museum, Going on Hikes, Going on Walks, and anything else that involves us…. you guessed it!… getting out of the house.
(Side Note: If you have a hard time getting out of the house on time, check out this post or this video.)
Beneath each block, write down every activity that will fit into that block.
My Block Schedule
Want to see an example of a block schedule?
I’ll show you mine!
Keep in mind that our schedule works well for us, but your blocks/activities/needs may be completely different.
That’s the beauty of the blocks! They can be tailored for every situation.
And by every situation, I mean every situation!
Alright here is my block schedule:
Block One: Morning Block 6:00-10:00
Our morning block is one of our longer blocks of the day because I get up before the girls do to get started on my Morning Routine.
After the girls wake up, usually between 7:00-7:30, and my oldest daughter completes her morning checklist (if you have the Autopilot Workbook, be sure to use the Morning Checklist for Kids.)
If your kids are home from school right now, this is an excellent time for them to get more involved in household duties. You can check out my post How to Teach Your Children to Enjoy Doing Chores if you need some ideas to get them started.
2023 Update: If you want to see my girls’ checklists a 8 and 5, watch this video!
Block Two: Out and About Block 10:00-1:00
Our second block of the day is when we do things that require us to leave the house or see people.
With the Coronavirus quarantines and social isolation going on, this block is currently changed to the Get Outside | Learning Block.
Here are the things that went into this block Pre-Coronavirus:
Grocery Shopping, Trips to the Park, Doctor’s Appointments, Music Lessons, Dentist Appointments, Play Dates, Trips to the Museum, Going on Hikes, Going on Walks, and anything else that involved us getting out of the house.
Now that this block looks a little different, ith as the following things in it:
I still do my best to get the girls to spend some time outside every single day, even if it is just in the backyard. If you want to get your kids outside every day too, I highly recommend getting some good rain jackets and rain suits which make playing outside in all weather more fun!
Currently in this block are also things like piano practicing, learning games (you can look on YouTube or Google for “fun ways to learn _________” if your children are home from school or if you are homeschooling and want to mix things up.)
Another great activity to do with your kids inside is to make bread! Your house will smell great, you will keep the kids busy for a while, and of course, you’ll have homemade bread!
And there are some things that we do in this block whether we are in quarantine or not.
We also give the girls baths if needed (we don’t do baths every day… it saves water (which saves $$). And they don’t get so dirty every day that washing their faces and hands can’t take care of it.
Block 5: Work Block 7:30-10:30
Once the kids are in bed for the night, we usually get back to work!
We finish up cleaning the kitchen if we didn’t get it done in the previous block, then we grab our laptops and work for a couple of hours.
What to keep in mind as you build your schedule:
1) Give yourself enough time to accomplish your tasks.
2) But don’t make the blocks too long or you will procrastinate!
3) Allow for flexibility: Since no two days are exactly alike, make sure your schedule will work on your busiest day as well as your least busy day.
4) Schedule in Down Time: If you feel like you are always running and never have time to enjoy life, schedule in some downtime. That might be part of your morning routine before everyone else wakes up, it could be at nap time, or it could be in the evening when everyone is in bed.