Category Uncategorized
July 28, 2023

Written by Brad Kraay

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, the mornings often become a chaotic rush to start the workday, leaving little time for self-care, family, and personal growth. I know this all too well as someone who has always worked for companies where I did everything I could with every moment I could find to make an impact.  Now that I own my own business, I have come to realize the incredible importance of time blocking and the positive impact it has had on my life, my family, and my quality of work.
For years, I was caught in the corporate culture of early mornings and instant productivity. The alarm would go off—actually, I rarely made it to my alarm–and without hesitation, I would leap out of bed and plunge headfirst into the workday. There was little room for anything else – no time to enjoy a cup of coffee with my wife, no time for exercise, and certainly no time for self-reflection or relaxation. While it seemed like the path to success and financially it was rewarding, it was unsustainable and took a toll on my personal well-being and sense of self away from the work.
The turning point came when I decided to start Thunderbird Advisors Group. I realized that my success wasn’t just about working longer and harder but rather about working smarter and being intentional with my time. A year or so ago, I sent an article about time blocking to a friend.  While it was brushed off as a nothing, I forgot about it. Then recently I was able to spend some time with two of my mentors and best friends who spoke very highly about the technique and what it’s offered them.  I took note. Time blocking is a time management technique where you divide your day into blocks, each allocated to a specific activity or task. Embracing this practice has allowed me to create dedicated time for myself and my family, particularly in the mornings.
For the first time in my adult life, I own my mornings.
I won’t check my email on my phone when I first wake up. Nor will I go directly into my office after letting the dogs out and feeding them.  Gone are the days of opening myself up to work calls and problem solving at 5am.  And the benefits?  They’re aplenty.
Mindful Self-Care: Time blocking allows me to prioritize self-care in the mornings. I began dedicating time to meditation, stretching, or simply enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee in the kitchen with my wife. Starting the day with mindfulness and relaxation sets a positive tone for the rest of my day.
Family Bonding: Instead of rushing out the metaphorical door, I now cherish the morning with my family—but without the distraction of what’s going on with work. We have meaningful conversations, share our plans for the day, and connect on a deeper level. This daily interaction strengthens our bonds and improves our overall family dynamic. Not to mention the extra play time with Elek in the mornings…
Personal Growth: Allocating time to personal growth activities such as listening to podcasts, reading, journaling, or focusing on personal hobbies, helps to nurture my creativity and self-improvement. It allows me to explore new interests and rediscover passions I had set aside for the sake of work.
Increased Productivity: Counterintuitively, dedicating focused time to myself and my family actually enhances my productivity with my work. When I finally start my workday, I feel refreshed, energized, and better equipped to handle tasks efficiently. If I was viewed as hyperproductive before, I’m taking that to a whole different level, and the quality of my work is impressing even my own worst critic: me!
Reduced Stress: Slowing down in the mornings and prioritizing myself has reduced my stress levels so much more than I could have ever imagined. I no longer feel rushed and overwhelmed, which positively impacts my mental and physical health, allowing me to tackle projects and deliverables with joy and vigor.
Improved Work-Life Balance: Owning my mornings helps me establish a better work-life balance. By carving out time for myself before diving into work, I can be fully present with my family during non-work hours, which I can’t remember ever having.  Imagine that, non-work hours… what a concept!  I’ve been a prisoner by setting the expectation that I’m always available to help, no matter what, and no matter when.
I’m still working on making these habits become second nature.  There are mornings when I find myself walking towards the office and then stopping in my tracks, and turning around.  “It’s not even 7am.  What am I doing?”  That’s okay, and I love the ability to recognize those glitches and focus on why this is so important to me with a wife, two teen daughters, and a toddler at home.  I don’t have to abruptly end phone calls with my mom “to get to work.” It’s liberating.
A few tips that I’ve learned are important for being successful with time blocking:
Set Clear Goals: Define what you want to achieve in your mornings, whether it’s meditation, exercise, family time, or personal growth. Establishing clear goals will guide your time blocking schedule. Focus on what really matters to you.
Start Gradually: If you’re used to rushing into work, transitioning to a slower morning routine might feel challenging. Begin by waking up just 15-30 minutes earlier or starting later and gradually extend the time as you become more comfortable with the new routine, within reason of course.
Stick to a Routine: Consistency is key. Stick to your time blocking schedule, and over time, it will become a natural part of your daily life.
Communicate with Family: Discuss your new morning routine with your family, and encourage them to join you in embracing a mindful and slower morning. This can foster a sense of togetherness and support. I talk about this with my wife almost every single day.  She knows how important this is to me and I think she really appreciates my morning presence.
Be Flexible: While time blocking can bring structure, don’t be too rigid. Life is unpredictable, and there will be days when adjustments are necessary. Be kind to yourself and adapt when needed. I’ve only written about my mornings and the implications of that.  Time blocking work tasks and projects is a whole different ballgame, and it’s astonishing how much people can accomplish when they stick to their blocks in place of constantly putting out fires, responding directly to emails, etc.
Embracing time blocking and taking ownership of my mornings has been a transformative experience. As a small business owner, I have come to understand that success is not just about getting things done but also about nurturing myself, my family, and the things that truly matter in life. By making time for self-care, family bonding, and personal growth, I have discovered a newfound sense of balance and fulfillment. I’ve always been unabashedly family-first, but this transition has demonstrated for me at 41-years-old that we can always do better, and I am.  I’m excited to see what this helps me accomplish in all aspects. I encourage you to give time blocking a try – it might just lead you to a more fulfilling and rewarding life. Remember, the journey begins with a single block of time dedicated to you.

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