When my husband and I first got married we really believed we knew some of the keys to a successful marriage, but little did we know that we had no idea what it was going to take to live with intention day in and day out. You see, when we met we were well established in our careers, several years deep into our side hustles, and knew exactly what we liked doing with our time. It was easy to decide how we would navigate our lives when we were single. We were making decisions based on what mattered most to ourselves, and no one else. Once we fell in love and realized we both loved most of the same things and both had a passion for personal goals, self development, faith, fitness, family, finances, and so on, we knew we would have it in the bag. #letsdothis
Years came and went, jobs changed, finances ebbed and flowed, our family grew, and the secret of a successful marriage was seemingly further and further away with each passing day. There are a lot of things that keep a marriage together, and in our home our faith in God is the cornerstone, but to add to that and provide tangible working tools to our tool bag we knew there had to be a better way to navigate each day. Something was broken, things were amiss too often, and so thats when the strategist in me came out and started looking at where the problem lied. We took a long hard look at what was most important to us and found a way to make them happen. The problem wasn’t so much about being married to horrid, selfish spouses, but mainly that we were operating under the go-with-the-flow mentality. Now, let’s be honest, getting out of bed and doing whatever feels good that day is awesome, but after any length of time life starts to pass you by and resentment and bitterness being to creep. This is when we started applying time blocking to our life, and it has made all the difference in creating a happy relationship for both of us.
What Is Time Blocking?
For those of you who are new to the concept of time blocking in general, let me give you a quick run down. Time blocking is a systematic approach to organizing your time each day into segments to relieve the constant need to multitask. Research has shown that multitasking can reduce your productivity by at least 40%. (See more on that study here). Time blocking is a way to improve the brains ability to focus on one task at a time, then allow it to shut off that portion of the mind before switching to the next task or topic. Before I go a step further and talk about how to apply this approach in your relationship, I’m going to drive home the top three reason why you should use time blocking as a tool for having a happy marriage.
First reason to use time blocking for a successful marriage
Hands down, time blocking is the most efficient way to organize your time. If you aren’t managing your time, then your time is managing you. No, read that again… If you aren’t managing your time, then your time is MANAGING YOU. Do you know how many blocks of 15 minutes add up to 1 hour? Four. Just four, 15 minute blocks of time will give you an entire hour a day to do a task you think you don’t have time for. Did you also know that you can check the amount of time you spend on your social media apps on your phone per day? Yep, that's right, and I promise you there are more than four 15 minutes blocks of time hiding right there in your cellular device.
Once we sat down and looked at what we were spending our time on it suddenly became very clear that the stress and frustrations of each day didn’t need to be there. If we weren't taking action and responsibility for how we spent our time then we could be frustrated with ourselves, but no more woes me because life isn't giving me all the things I want. There was enough time to do all the things we wanted to do if our time was organized well, and that was clear. Efficiency is key friends, it really, really is. Here is a great example. My husband asks me to work on putting away the clothes in my laundry basket that have been there for, oh I don’t know, 2 weeks, and I tell him I don’t have time, maybe tomorrow. It’s likely that I don’t have time and that is why the laundry is still sitting there. It’s also likely that I have been prioritizing other tasks with my time in leu of doing something I loathe. Can you see the opportunity there to serve our partners given that we have set aside time to do so? Time management is so vital in a marriage because it communicates love and shows gratitude. Regardless of what your love language is, you need TIME to be able to serve your spouse, and children, and self, which leads me to my second reason that you should start blocking your time.
Second reason to use time blocking for a successful marriage
I cannot think of a better way to describe what a successful marriage looks like other than to say SELF CARE. Taking 30-60 minutes every weekend to map out our week together allows my husband and I to build in time for our own needs so we are able to turn right back around and serve each other, our children, and the communities we live in. Without intentional time built in for the things you need as a human, not as a wife or mom, but as you, when will those tasks ever make their way into your life? When will you be a whole version of yourself instead of a fragmented version? How can you have a happy relationship if one, or both of you, is unhappy to begin with? When you look at your week right now, how much time is set aside for your fundamental needs? Do you and your partner have time to be alone to do the things you want to do? Is there time set aside for your mental, physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual wellbeing? Even beyond that question, do you know what you need to be whole?
I want you to get out a piece of paper and write down a list of up to 10 must have tasks you need to accomplish every week in order to feel 100% whole. HINT: these are likely the tasks that get pushed to the side when time runs away from you, when you’ve spent too much time getting sucked into the vortex that social media is, or when you’ve been busy serving everyone else and now the sun has set on yet another day.
Here is an example of what one persons fundamental weekly needs may be:
read one chapter in my book
gym 3 times
date with husband
Another example could be:
finance log once a week
one on one time with kiddos 20 minutes each
2 hours with girlfriends
yoga 2 times a week
Every person has a different set of needs to be whole, and only you and your spouse can decide what your list of weekly needs is going to look like. Having this conversation with them is an absolute marriage hack that you’re going to be so bummed you didn’t do sooner and here is why.
Third reason to use time blocking for a successful marriage
When you and your husband have taken the time to sit down and talk about what you need in order to feel whole, suddenly communicating what you need becomes a million times easier and all the anxiety about how to get it all done is gone. Now you don’t have to feel guilty for your mom time out of the house on Tuesday night because you know dad gets his time Saturday night. You also know that this week, your partner has a lot on his plate and you don’t have as much so you can pour into him everything he needs. The other amazing part about time blocking your week with your spouse is knowing ahead of time that every single want and need you have for he next 7 days has a time and place. This my friends, is when you get to say you are living with intention.
Imagine being in the middle of play time with your kiddos and feeling complete peace about the laundry and dishes because you know at 11:00am you will make lunch, eat with them, put them down for a nap, and then clean the house! Or that to do list you’re growing over there, well you don’t have to think about it because yesterday you gave it two solid hours and next week you will do the same. Imagine not having to think about cleaning the house today because it was all done yesterday, or respond to emails when you’re out to dinner because every morning you have 15 minutes set aside for that. You no longer have to force multiple tasks into one window of time because you know where each task is living within your week. Do you see how liberating this could be for your entire family?
How to start time blocking for a happy marriage.
We all know that combining two lives is really hard and without a solid plan as to how life is going to look when all the hustle and bustle comes about, someone is going to take on too much, or not enough, and there will be conflict because of it. If this is where you are, have grace with each other, because being able to live with intention everyday is no easy feat for any of us. But, also know that there is absolutely a way to change the trajectory of your life, and marriage. Commit to setting aside time to planning out your fundamental needs and getting them on the calendar every week. If you’d like to see all the tasks my husband and I schedule on a weekly basis to ensure we have a happy marriage click here for our free time blocking template that we refer to as The Great Eight. The Great Eight is our foundation for an efficient, supportive, and wholistic life week in and week out. You’ll also get to take the weekly schedule template and use it to know how to plan your week with your parter as well. I can’t wait to know how much this has helped each and every one of you.