Blocking Time for Family

There is a phrase I often hear that I avoid because it implies we can have everything equally balanced…

family/work balance

With family, career and everything else that demands our time, it is rarely (if ever) a ‘balanced’ life.

Instead, the goal is to seek family/work prioritization. For example, if your work life is 9-5, you can’t then counter that with an equal amount of 8 hours a day of family life. However, you can determine the most important things to do as and/or with the family, and make sure the hours available after a 9-5 job have time dedicated to family priorities.

When we don’t take steps towards this kind of time blocking, chaos begins to take hold and soon everyone feels they are over worked or under served.

FAMILY TIME BLOCKING SYSTEMS

The goal is to find a system that fits your family age level, communication style, and resources. In addition, it needs to be a system that is easy to manage every week by more than just one ‘calendar keeper’ and visible to all parties. Here are a couple to consider…

STICKY NOTE SYSTEM:

What you need:

  • Square sticky notes in a variety of colors
  • A large poster board, project board or wall (chalkboard or white board wall to post your notes)

Set Up:

  • Assign sticky note colors in the following ways:
    • A color for each adult (for noting work time)
    • A color for the entire family (for noting dedicated family time)
    • A color for each child (for noting specific child activities)
  • On the poster board or a wall, draw out 1 week or a 31 day calendar.
    • Some prefer blocking out a month at a time, others are good with just a week at a glance

The System:

  • Determine one day a week as the day to manage the sticky notes so that it become a family habit
    • When possible, make it a family time project. If not possible, don’t overthink it…just do it with whoever you can!
  • Fill in the upcoming week with the specific sticky notes
    • Adults
      • write your work/gig time on your notes and put them on the days that you need to work.
      • write out other time commitments that don’t involve the family (meetings / errands / events…)
    • Kids
      • write out activities other than normal school hours on your sticky note colors and post them on their appropriate days.
      • Kids not old enough to write will do it with a parent. It’s still great to involve them as soon as they are old enough to understand the concept of time.
    • Family
      • On the family color, write out the family events planned or time to be dedicated to family time and place on their days.
  • Step back and take a look. What do you see?
    • Is the family color there, barely there, or missing?
    • Take a moment to evaluate how satisfied you are with the % of family time color represented on the board.
    • If you don’t like what you see, ask these questions and take appropriate steps:
      • Are there notes on the wall that can be done another time?
        • If yes, put them in a location on the board called ‘parking lot’ and come back to them another week
        • If no, have a family talk about what purpose the other priorities have and discuss ways to find more time next week.
          • Is the calendar full of work/side gig obligations? Talk about how this is to grow funds for something that will benefit the family.
          • Talk about some family activities everyone would love to find time to do next week and discuss ways to plan ahead to make sure that will happen

The Purpose of the Sticky Wall:

  • It’s a visual reminder of your commitment as a family to be united about time priorities.
  • It’s a great visual to remind impatient family members of when the next family time  or their time is scheduled.

COLOR CODED e-PLANNER:

An e-version of the sticky note calendar is color blocking on a virtual calendar (like a google calendar / outlook / etc…)

Follow the same outline for the sticky notes, making the following adjustments:

  • Instead of sticky note colors, you will assign font or highlight colors
  • The virtual calendar should be accessible to all family members (age appropriately)
    • For a family with younger children, the online calendar can be shown to them when they are wondering about ‘their’ time or complaining about not enough time with you.

At the end of the day, if your family is feeling neglected; if you are feeling stretched; if there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get everything done, doing a time blocking system, even if for just a season, can be very helpful. 

If nothing else, it forces you and the family to take stock of how you are dedicating use of the time you have and if you like what you see…or not.


Do Something On Pur•pose today…

  • Ask the family how they feel about the amount of time typically available for family fun and bonding.
  • If there is a desire for it to be better, ask the family this question – “What does quality family time look like to you?”
  • With those answers, discuss ways to find more time to do more of those things.

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