The Time Blocking Cube That Saved My Life

It’s no secret we ALL have a lot of shit to get done every single day… I’m a busy, boss ass betch getting shit done and so are you.

I have limited energy, brainpower, and fucks to give, so making the most out of what I’ve got has become a big focus for me lately… Specifically, I’m talking about productivity hacks, and how to use them to optimize my time and make the most out of my life every day.

I first learned about this game changing, lifesaving timer cube this past summer, and then nothing was the same. Implementing time blocking has had a trickle down effect that has helped me develop good habits in various other aspects of my life, and I am thrilled. I have ADHD so finding a “structure” that worked with my idiosyncrasies as well as my work and life schedules has been a struggle… This is truly a great tool for anyone looking to get a better grip on their time, to-do list and life. I’m writing this to share info about the cube and time blocking as a productivity tool in general, but also some personal anecdotes for color as I assume I’m not the only one with my kind of struggles.

It’s literally… a cube with a timer… It has 4 options to set: 5 min, 15 min, 30 min, 60 min. You place it on whichever side of time you want to give yourself, and it starts. You can see how much time is left as it counts down on one side, though I usually keep it out of sight so I’m not thinking about how much time I have left.

I used to/still struggle with the bad habit of overbooking myself and expecting myself to get more done in a day than is realistically feasible. This keeps me stressed out and running late, two things I hate being but have never really found a permanent way out of… Using a timer and blocking out my time/schedule/LIFE has been hugely effective with resolving both of those issues.

I have also always been motivated by deadlines, so this is a stress-free way to replicate that kind of environment without the actual pressure on my performance. (I think there’s some kind of bad that’s what he said joke in there.) That’s probably the biggest benefit of using it for me – having the chance to immerse myself in something without having a nagging fear of losing track of time or becoming late, something that has always haunted me.

It reminds me of a simpler time in my life, HIGH SCHOOL. We had block periods and it was so great because I had only 3-4 classes each day. I didn’t have to jump from subject to subject all day, which I loved because spinning up and down and shifting topics quickly can be tough for me. I like to take my time and get balls deep with whatever I’m doing. You know?

Also, like a high school bell, the timer cube’s beeps SCREAM at you when time is up — there is no ignoring it. I have jumped out of my chair multiple times because I’d get so in the flow and forget I had even set a timer (which is exactly why I started using it in the first place, LOL).

Another productivity hack I’ve started doing is grouping similar tasks together to knock out in a sequence for optimal efficiency. I drill down on my action items and list all the steps required for completion, find common ones, and then sort and schedule them into my day in my planner. Doing this extra step to plan out my process for accomplishing my tasks each day helps me get WAY more done because if I don’t have a plan, I’ll start doing one thing and before I realize I’ve blinked it’s been an hour and I’m now trying to do 5 things at once, and wonder how that even happened?? Using time blocking and this timer cube has really helped to keep my feet on the ground even when my head is in the clouds.

It’s helped to manage my unrealistic expectations for how long something will take me… I now write my life and work schedule in blocks as much as possible, in an hourly planner I have from Erin Condren. I write EVERYTHING down. When I wake up, work out, take my meds, eat lunch, go to the store, meditate, read books, etc. Surprisingly, this method has also made me better at penciling in and following through on important self-care activities, like taking epsom salt baths or meditating. Having hard stops on my time with the timer helps me to actually use the time I theoretically blocked out for myself, on myself – instead of 300 extra emails or running errands. I know I can do that because I already blocked all that other shit into other parts of my day on my calendar! In case you hadn’t noticed, keeping a hard calendar (especially because I can cross tasks off) really makes me feel confident and like I have my life together.

I’ve also narrowed down my to-do list each day because I know I don’t have enough time for everything anymore, which has done wonders for my stress levels and mental health/peace of mind!!!!!! I can’t emphasize this one enough!!!!!! Do the exclamation points make my point clear?!?!?!?!?! PEACE. OF. MIND!!!!!

And, having a more realistic to-do list and expectations for myself each day has done WONDERS for my anxiety. It feels like it has just evaporated from some aspects of my life because they’re finally working in smooth order.

PS. Big thanks to Lauryn of The Skinny Confidential who first tipped me off about this miracle productivity cube!

What’s your best productivity tip or trick? Please share.

xx

 

Best Journals For Anxiety & Mental Health Therapy | #AskSCB

Someone tweeted me recently asking me about any journals I use or think are good for anxiety. Over the years, I’ve tried to journal consistently for goal setting, emotional catharsis, mental health therapy, creative inspiration, etc. but it’s always felt a little Dear Diary to me. I love writing by hand and I obsessively buy notebooks… but, I like making LISTS in my notebooks — then getting shit done and crossing it off.

Journaling notebooks or books that give you writing prompts are way more my speed. I want something to get me thinking, I don’t want to think about what I want to think about. You know?

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I am obsessed with The Happiness Planner. I got it from Anthro when I was in Seattle over Christmas and just started it. “The Happiness Planner is a tool designed to help you re-shape the way you think and to shift your focus to the positive.” The first section is writing exercises to get you to reflect on yourself and what makes you feel happy and fulfilled… The goal is to plan ahead for the next 100 days and mindfully integrate happiness habits into your daily life.

At first this sounds just like every “think positive thoughts and your life shall become it” thing you read, but after digging in I realized you completely set the parameters and define what you want more of – so the cheesy sounding “happiness habits” are custom crafted habits to integrate exactly what you know you want/need to do in your life… Probably to change or replace habits and ways of thinking/being that aren’t so great – at least that’s me as I’m doing this.

It’s so fucking satisfying to be honest about how I feel and what I want and it makes me nervous to define it but writing makes it real… It becomes tangible, and something I can achieve. Then, actually doing what’s needed for whatever I really, ACTUALLY want or how I want to feel becomes sooo much easier. I can schedule it into my life, just like I schedule meetings or yoga or any other thing. It becomes something I can cross off. Now I’m looking forward to all of the new gold stars I’ll earn with myself from doing these little happiness habits and then checking them off my to-do list. I don’t know if that undermines the entire point behind it, but it keeps me going back so I’m rolling with it.

I’ve already written a post on why I love the lowkey 5 Minute Journalso peep it if you haven’t. It’s 5 minutes a day/night and it’s an easy way to keep track of how well you followed through with yourself on the day, plus you write a positive affirmation and there are great quotes on each page. Totally recommend — I’m on my second. It helps keep me in perspective when I get super in my head and focused on the things I still have to do and makes me pause to realize what I have gotten done.

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As far as specific journals FOR anxiety, I’m So Freaking Freaked Out is probably the only one I’ve tried that is specifically geared towards anxiety. It’s a journal notebook where each day you use it, it prompts you to tell it “why I’m so freaking freaked out today.” It also has reassuring, anxiety reducing quotes which don’t always help when I’m actually freaking the fuck out, but I appreciate the thought. My mom sent it to me in a care package after I had a panic attack and I actually laughed at how hysterical it was, EXCEPT NOW I TOTALLY USE IT… I’d much rather have an anxiety journal than have an anxiety attack, ya know?

Let It Out is a GREAT book I have by Katie Dalebout that has journaling exercises, prompts, and techniques that help shift your perspective and have helped me better manage anxiety and stress… Now that I’m thinking about it, I should probably revisit this one as life has been high stress lately. It’s reflective, creative, cathartic, and realistic – I really enjoyed reading/doing this book. She’s about journaling for anything, so this would be great for anyone who wants a guided journal that will kick them in the ass.

One of my faaaaves is The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. It’s half book, half journal. She also has Desire Map planners on her site (linked above) which I haven’t tried, because I already have a planner and many notebooks and lists, but I want to at some point before I die. Has anyone tried? LMK in the comments what you thought if you have. This book literally scared me at first. It was too loud. I was not feeling sure of myself at the time I got this and what it was asking me to do and think about was SCARY. Doing the workbook gave me anxiety at first! This was the first journal that forced me to think about and define what I really want. It was what made the whole “if I write this down, it’s real and then I can break it down and actually do it” thing real for me at first. Would highly recommend.

Hopefully these titles are new and exciting — do you guys have any to add to the list? Which ones have you tried? Do you do any form of journaling or goal setting regularly? Talk to me.

xx


Got a question to Ask SCB? Send it in through the submission box at the top of the #AskSCB & FAQ Post Index Page.

Why I’m Finally Going To Therapy For My Anxiety

Hiiiiii, everyone! It’s been a hot minute — a hot few months, really. I wanted to catch you up and explain all at once by sharing a topic that I’ve been working a lot with recently… My anxiety.

Mental Health. Anxiety. Therapy.

I know I’ve been quiet… but I’ve been busy. Busy dealing with a lot of shit. Good shit, bad shit, health shit, life shit, dog shit, annoying shit, great shit.

So, hi. Here I am.

I’ve sat behind my screen scared for a few weeks now, trying to jump back into blogging and wondering how to do just that. I have so much new work, new product reviews, new series, just SO MUCH NEW NEW, to share with you! So much that the pressure of kicking it off right kept me from starting at all. Fucking yikes, right?

This kind of pressure is not a new feeling to me… It is one of the many flavors of my anxiety.

I have struggled with anxiety for years, and it is only in the last handful that I have even been able to admit I deal with it. I spent 20+ years of my life unaware of the forces driving my life – my emotions, thoughts, perspectives, feelings, decisions, and actions.

In recent months, I started going to an acupuncturist in the South Bay. After I started going regularly, he told me he held a meditation class on Friday and Saturday mornings and invited me… fast forward a few months and I’ve signed myself up for a weeklong zen meditation treat the last week of September.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

It was amazing… but super intense. I’ll write more about it later or I’ll never get to my point here. During one of our sits over the course of the retreat, thoughts about going to therapy and what it meant and why I wanted to go or why I had been resistant to going came through my mind and I realized it was all so ridiculous – why WOULDN’T I want to go and improve myself? I committed a fucking week of my life to meditation – I could probably handle an hour of therapy a week. Something just shifted for me about therapy during the retreat, and I’ve been excited to get started ever since.

Instead of being resistant to the idea of “going to therapy” because it would be me admitting something is wrong with me, I was looking forward to sitting down with someone who could help me… I couldn’t wait to explain myself: here is my life, this is who I am, here are the places I am struggling and I want to figure out how to fix my issues and resolve my triggers/improve situations that cause me problems, whatever. I was and still am SO EXCITED to be getting this shit off my chest. I didn’t know how good it feels… I have been missing O U T. It’s part of the reason I’m writing this right now, so you know I’ve already made some progress.

I’m still shocked at my willingness to confront this because I spent the rest of my life compartmentalizing and denying my problems – if you know me, you’ll know I’m usually the “ha ha big smile I’m fine!” kind of girl.

I’ve just finally pieced together for myself, that my anxiety is the root source of all my negatives and vices: bad habits and behaviors, drinking too much, eating too little or emotionally binge eating, not taking care of myself, everything.

It all seems to stem from anxiety, and the anxious framework and programming I created for myself, suffocating mental confines I finally realized I could break free from. In order to do so, I need a professional to help me process and release and rebuild what needs to be so that I can move beyond them and reach my potential to be the woman I know I can be.

xx


Read More:

Tips To Manage Stress & Anxiety
Learning To Love My Body
Do Stress Vitamins Really Work?
The Best Journals for Anxiety