My #1 Hack to Tackling the To-Do List -

jenna rainey

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I’m an artist, self-taught designer, and multi-faceted creative entrepreneur who is hell-bent on teaching everyone how to find their inner creative voice.

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My #1 Hack to Tackling the To-Do List

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Are you constantly feeling like you’re behind? Maybe you wake up without an alarm clock because your inner stress gauge is on the verge of exploding, waking you up already overwhelmed, scrambling for what needs to get done. I’ve been there!

Being an entrepreneur, or even someone just managing a busy life, it constantly feels like you’re racing the clock to get it all done. After getting through some of the email pile up from the night before, I remember I’d feel kind of stuck in my tracks almost, wondering: I know I have a ton to do, but what is the most urgent? Then, digging through email threads deep in the archive to find out the details of that said project to make sure I work efficiently…and soon enough realizing, I’ve just wasted SO much time just trying to figure out what projects are due! This cycle of sitting at my desk, going through my Google calendar or emails to find what projects were due that day or week, then doing that one project, crossing it off and going back and doing this cycle over again for the next project – it’s a time sucker! Not only that, but I wasn’t able to actually track my time and how much I spent per project because it was so unstructured and unorganized! And I KNOW I’m not the only one who’s felt this way!

If you feel like you’re constantly racing to beat the clock like I was, then I’ve got a HACK for you: TIME-BLOCKING

Yes, time-blocking. This is the ONE thing that has saved me loads of time over the last couple of years. I’m not kidding you, once I started implementing time-blocking, I no longer felt like a slave to my calendar and most days it seems as though I have a couple hours of extra time to work on each project or spend on goals and passion projects! It’s freed up SO much extra time for me because I’m no longer scrambling, I’m no longer digging through emails and calendar invites to make sure I know the specs of each job – it’s all in one spot, blocked out for me.

The art of time-blocking

So, the way it works is, instead of trying to piece together calendar invites and scraps of paper with tasks written on them, each week (usually Sunday night for me), I sit down and block out each task and to-do I have for the week in 30-minute blocks or intervals. This includes dinner with a friend, when it’s time for lunch, go through emails, client projects, passion projects, EVERYTHING. That way, I can have a realistic picture of what I can actually get done in a day, a week, etc. and when Monday rolls around, I know exactly what needs to be done when I get to my office. No more wasting time getting settled, trying to remember back through last week and what didn’t get crossed off, etc. it’s all mapped out.

It really sounds so simple, but it’s absolutely changed my life.

Not only has time-blocking saved me time and made me feel like I’m in charge of my calendar, but it’s also made me a more efficient and thorough worker. Because I can now essentially batch my time and I’m tracking it down every 30 minutes, I know exactly how long each task will take me. This makes me better at pricing and knowing what to quote clients because I now understand the value and depth of my time and how long each particular project will take me. It helps me to inform clients more accurately on how long I think their project will take me because I’ve gotten used to understanding how I work and the use of my time down to minutes! This is so valuable. I spent years overworked and underpaid because I didn’t understand my time. I didn’t know how to quote clients because I never knew how long specific jobs were taking me, therefore, I always felt like I was having to catch up.

Time-blocking makes you a “deeper worker”

If you’re constantly battling the slow time-suck of multi-tasking, interruptions and bouncing around projects throughout the day, it may be difficult to find one good stretch of time where you can really sit in a project and do good work. Assigning one task to one block of time forces you to get deep with that ONE task, allowing you to simmer in it and access the real creative stuff.

It forces you to be realistic

Truth. I’ve said “yes” to so many projects in the past because I somehow thought I was the lord of my time and I could just pull out extra hours from my sleeves – ehem, wake up call, that’s not possible. Now that I’ve been practicing time-blocking for over a year, I now have a more realistic view on what I actually can accomplish, what projects to say yes to and which ones to say no to. It’s so liberating because you have an accurate assessment of what your monthly goals and forecast are, along with your week and down to each half hour of every day! Trust me, saying no to jobs is very freeing and helps preserve your sanity…but that’s another topic for another day!

So, how do I time-block you ask?

Cover of Jenna Rainey's Time Blocking Spreadsheet downloadable product

I have an amazing resource for YOU in my #GetBossyShop with the exact time-blocking spreadsheet template that I’ve built and use. This spreadsheet not only has instructions on how to set up your week and block your time but also has pages for monthly goals so you can write down passion projects! Writing it down makes it wayyy more accessible and probable for you to achieve goals and this page will help you with looking at your entire month overview when talking with clients and quoting prospect jobs.

Along with that, there’s also a page where I write out and track all of the jobs I’ve had, and how long they each took me – this acts as a glossary for me to refer to when I’m blocking similar jobs for the week. I have the groundwork and estimated time already done for me!

It’s taken me years of feeling way over-worked, hustling to keep up with everything and still not feeling like I knew what I was doing when it came to quoting and understanding my time. Your time is one of your most valuable assets to your business and life. Once I learned to no longer be a slave to it, but to master it and understand it on a deeper level, my business and my life totally changed. Yes, I’m still busy and there are weeks where I barely come up for breath because of deadlines, but that’s because I enjoy my work and I’m constantly working on projects to grow my business…but now I’m able to work more efficiently, get MORE done and understand in depth what my tasks are and how long they take. You can do the same!

Want to start mastering your time? Click HERE to download and access my complete guide and template to time-blocking!


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  1. Mary says:

    HI Jenna!
    Thank you for inspiring! Before I purchase this, is the “Excel Spreadsheet” compatible with Mac? I am not technologically-savvy so I hope that this is!

    Thank you again for shining your light!

  2. I have been trying to figure out a process myself and this helps quite a bit. Thank you. One question I have is how do you manage new tasks that come up everyday. Let’s say you blocked your week on Sunday. When do you tackle these new tasks.

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