24 March 2023

Free For All Friday - No. 750 by Anita

As mentioned in a previous Free For All Friday, I extensively use time blocking in my flexible hours job, as it helps me plan my work and ensure that I'm regularly doing work for each of my clients. However, now that I've recently taken on some new companies, I've realised that I need to look again at how often I need to be working on each one to keep on top of everything. 

I came across this video and really like how goes through her process step by step:

Usually I keep a separate Google calendar for work, but I can see that it will be useful for me to sit down and create a template like this on paper to consider my current workload, goals and free time all in one place. I haven't done this yet, but I think that I will use an A4 weekly pad that I bought years ago (but have never used) and will write another post once I've had a go. I like the idea of using a larger page size for space, but I can then fold it to fit into personal size.

Do you use time blocking in your Filofax?

And as always on Fridays, please feel free to discuss anything organiser related. I hope that you have a great weekend.


  1. Matthew Woodhouse24 March, 2023 01:26

    I work nights and its always routine, I have a deskfax with time blocks from 8am to 8pm so its pretty much useless to me. Even my fitbit planning hours insists a day stops at midnight

  2. Martin Brecher24 March, 2023 11:09

    I do time blocking in the way suggested by Cal Newport (see, e.g., the video on https://www.timeblockplanner.com/#timemethod).

    I do this in a personal Filofax and I simply use standard lined pages, with one line per 30 minutes. I write down the times (hours only) on the very left hand side of the page. I then use about a quarter of the remaining page width for constructing my schedule: I put down all fixed appointments (e.g., classes, office hours, meetings, whatever, taken from my calendar). I then schedule time blocks for the other tasks and activities. This results in a column of time blocks on the left hand side of the page. If the plan gets derailed (as it usually does), I rebuild a schedule for the remainder of the day next to the first column. – Following Cal Newport's example, I use the upper right hand side of the lined area of the page for listing small tasks to do in admin blocks, as I won't need that particular space for a revised schedule.

    Having the space on the side of the original schedule to construct revised schedules is important as the key idea is to be intentional about spending one's time. There will always be things that take longer or new things that come up. But it's important to then make a new plan for the remainder of the day compared to just giving up on structured work for the day. The revised schedules also constitute valuable feedback for being more realistic in one's daily aspirations in the future. (I still have a good way to go in my own time blocking habit, but I have experienced how helpful time blocking is to get (the right) things done.)

    As I said, I do this in a personal size Filofax. I find personal sized pages perfectly suitable for the task. Personal size pages are narrow of course, but if you draw the blocks narrowly enough, you can fit four virtual columns on the page, so you can have the original plan and three revisions by its side if necessary. (Should you need more, you could just use a new, blank page.) I usually only write short keywords in the blocks, so they can be small. Lined personal size pages are high enough to fit in a schedule for a long day with two lines per hour. Usually there are a few unused lines at the bottom for tracking something (for example, the time actually spent in deep work blocks). - In A5 you won't have any space constraints at all.

    In the past I did experiment with different inserts, e.g. the German Filofax professional one day per page diary, but that only had times from 8am to 6pm or so. I also tried my own time blocking inserts: basically a table with a small column for the times on the left hand side and four wider columns for the time block schedule. However, I now simply use the standard white lined Filofox paper, so that I don't need to print anything. Also, lined pages allow for a great amount of flexibility. (Quadrille paper will work just as well, of course.) For me the only drawback of _not_ using pages (like a calendar insert) with dates on it is that I tend to not time block some days, which is not
    good. This usually happens when the day is filled with appointments already and I (erroneously) believe that I don't need a plan for the times in between. Oh well...