Why I’m Giving Up on Time Blocking to Set Priorities at Work  [+ Video]

Why I’m Giving Up on Time Blocking to Set Priorities at Work [+ Video]

I’m giving up on block scheduling to set priorities at work

I’m giving up on block scheduling—despite many years of effort!—when it comes to how I set priorities at work.

If you’re not familiar with block scheduling—or time blocking—it’s a method of calendar and task management where you literally “block” time on your schedule for certain types of work. It’s a method that I’ve even taught before!

Time-blocking: good in theory, difficult in reality

With time-blocking, you might say, “I need 2 hours a day for admin work, half an hour to respond to emails every day, and 3 hours of actual client work time.” And that may be true… at least, those numbers may be the correct averages for the time you need.

But what I’ve found is that life just never really goes the way that I think it’s going to go. Every day is just a little bit different.

There are sudden fires that need to be put out.

Or my energy is SUPER low.

Or my restlessness is really high and I can’t focus on the work I’m “supposed” to be doing.

Or I have an unexpected client meeting (or a new lead books a discovery call!)

So the time I thought I had set aside for certain work gets pushed aside for one reason or another. (And, yes, sometimes this can be related to boundary-maintenance issues, but that’s a nuanced discussion for another day).

The point is: life happens. It happens a LOT. And I’ve found that I was spending lots of time and energy every week just deciding how to use my time.

Using Motion to set priorities at work

I didn’t even realize how much time and energy I was spending every day to set priorities at work until I stopped doing it.

Enter Motion, a task management/calendar/scheduling productivity app I had been seeing pop up in my social media ads for years.

I had some time over the holidays to use however I wanted, so I decided to finally download the app and give them a try (with their 5-day trial).

The basic idea is that it integrates with your calendar, you add your tasks, and it will schedule your tasks for you around the parameters that you set so that you can focus on the right tasks in the right priority without actually having to make any of those decisions.

So for me, it has freed my brain from spending energy worrying about “how should I use my time?” Or “do I have too much work and not enough time?” I didn’t realize how much energy I was spending on answering those questions every day.

Video Walkthrough of Using Motion App to Automatically Schedule Tasks & Set Priorities

Click to See Video Timestamps

00:32: My problem with block scheduling

01:41: How Motion App is different & why it works better for my brain than block scheduling

03:05: Integrate Motion App with your selected calendars

04:21: Add your work hours (or multiple types of schedules)

05:40: How to add a task to Motion App & have it prioritize your work automatically

09:17: How Motion App automatically adjusts your schedule when things change

10:54: How to set a recurring task in Motion App

12:52: Other prioritization options when creating tasks

13:49: The Focus Time option in Motion App (& the alternative method I prefer)

15:18: Meeting Scheduler

16:08: Using meeting scheduler options in Motion App for less energy drain

16:49: Limitations of the meeting scheduler

18:19: Cons of using Motion App

22:27: The overall benefits of Motion App (& Why the pros outweighed the cons for me)

23:58: Get a referral code for a 2-week free trial (no credit card required) & $100 off if you purchase

Motion App answers the question: What are my task priorities?

After you choose which calendars you want integrated into the app, you set your basic work schedule (or you can have multiple types of schedules for different types of work).

Then, as you add each task, you set the parameters of when it needs to be done, how long it’s going to take, etc.

Motion Task Manager Options 1

What sets this apart from other tools that I’ve seen, though, is how it works like my own brain—it asks many of the same questions I would ask when choosing priorities for work—to set priorities for me based on how I prefer to work.

It’s like an app that knows our best intentions to manage tasks don’t always line up with reality.

Hard deadlines vs Soft Deadlines

For example, deadlines. I love that Motion lets you distinguish between hard deadlines and “soft” deadlines. In a way, this is kind of an Eisenhower Matrix that will differentiate urgent tasks from important-but-not-urgent ones. (Aside: since I haven’t used this with a team, I’d be curious to know whether you can re-assign those non-important but urgent tasks within the app. Comment if you know!)

Being able to choose in advance whether the deadline has any flexibility means that the app can re-prioritize for me when my schedule gets changed for any reason (without me having to think about it!) I don’t have to look at my lists of tasks every time my “ideal schedule” gets interrupted and decide how to fit everything into my available time.

“No deadline” is another nice option for those “someday” tasks you want to work on but don’t really have a set deadline. Motion App lets you choose a general timeline for the task (like, “within a few weeks” or “within 1-2 months”).

Split long tasks into chunks—or not

This is one of my favorite features.

In the past year or two, I’ve experienced how important it is for me to have BIG OL’ chunks of time available for certain kinds of work. But how much time I need really depends on the type of work I’m doing.

Here’s an example. If I need to spend 8 hours adding client assets to Dubsado, I can add that as a single 8-hour task, but tell Motion, “It’s fine to break that up into chunks, as long as each chunk of time is at least 45 minutes.” It’s not necessarily a task that requires a ton of focus, I can knock out a good bit of work in 45 minutes.

But writing is a different beast entirely. I probably need that same 8 hours to develop and write a good blog post (I’m thorough, y’all), but 45 minutes barely is enough time for me to make sense of the commotion in my brain when I sit down. I can’t get anything of worth done on a blog in 45 minutes.

So if I’m setting up an 8-hour task to write a blog post, I can still break it into chunks (but I don’t want any chunk to be less than 2 hours). Boom.

Motion will develop my schedule around all of these types of details—broken record alert—but I don’t have to think about it.

Recurring task options in Motion

Similarly, with recurring tasks, Motion gives you intuitive options. You have the same duration options as one-time tasks. You have similar priority options of either “Must finish” or “Try to finish”. And like one-time tasks, you can select which work schedule the task applies to.

But there are also frequency options. Is this a task you do multiple times per week? Or is it a task you do once a week (but when you do it is flexible?)

Recurring tasks also have a nice “ideal start time” feature, which Motion will use when it’s not overridden by higher priorities.

Motion Recurring Task Options 1

Motion App answers the question: Do I have too much work and not enough time?

Motion Tasks Scheduled

As you add your tasks to Motion, it schedules them for you on your calendar. And if there’s simply too much work to do within you parameters, it will let you know (and give you options for how you want to handle it).

Once I’ve added my tasks for the next few weeks, I love being able to scan forward in the calendar and see what my days look like. When I used it during the trial, I was shocked to see how much time I actually had left over after everything was scheduled. I knew some more work was coming that was going to take up a lot of that time, but since I could see exactly how much I had available, I didn’t stress about how it was all going to fit.

Visualization is key when it comes to managing tasks and priorities—we tend to forget what we don’t see

view of my motion app calendar with tasks and meetings scheduled

Motion App does more than schedule tasks (see details in my video)

While I am primarily using Motion to manage tasks and visualize my work priorities, it does have more functionality.

I go into some of these in some more detail in my walkthrough video, so check out the video (start at 15:18 to start with the meeting scheduler). I’ll just pop some quick highlights below from my limited experience.

Seamless external meeting scheduler

I have used the meeting scheduler for rescheduling some of my client meetings and it’s got some great features that, again, stay with the theme of the making it easy to prioritize your schedule around your preferred methods of staying focused.

Features I like in the Motion meeting scheduler:

  • Generate a canned meeting request that will automatically include scheduling options for the recipient. They can even book the time just by clicking on the link that appears in their email.
  • You can choose whether you’d prefer to group meetings together or spread them apart, depending on how they impact your time and energy
  • “Preferred” time slots: based on your preference above, you can have “preferred” time slots labelled so the recipient knows your preference. OR you can even opt to only display your preferred times to recipients.

Automatic flexible internal meeting scheduler

With Flexible Meetings, each person on your team adds their calendar or schedule (though you can keep the information private) and Motion will automatically book your internal meetings around everyone’s schedule. No more sending out Doodle polls or long email chains to choose a team meeting time!

Folks, do I ever wish I had started using Motion about 4 months earlier when I was trying to coordinate the single best meeting time for 6 independent business owners over 3 times zones.

I would love to try this feature out but I haven’t needed it since I started using Motion. If you try it out, please report back to me with your thoughts!

Pros and Cons of Using Motion App to Set Priorities at Work

There’s a lot to love about Motion, but it’s certainly not perfect. If you know me then you know that–while I love a good app and I love reviewing them so you can find useful ways to make your work feel easier—I’m not going to sugarcoat the downsides. There’s no perfect tool and not every tool is ideal for every person or situation.

Here is a quick rundown of both the limitations I’ve noticed and the benefits of using Motion.

Cons: Downsides of using Motion app to manage tasks and meetings

  • Not a robust task manager. I can’t replace my current task/project management software—ClickUp—for this. But if you don’t need a lot of features in a task manager, you might be able to. For instance, you can add tasks to “projects” and add notes to a task, but you can’t add attachments or subtasks. From what I can tell, collaboration is limited.
  • Doesn’t integrate with existing task managers. So I can’t enter a new task in ClickUp and have it automatically populate in Motion. I haven’t looked into integrations through third-party options like Zapier. Honestly, this is the reason I didn’t try this app out sooner.
  • Only schedules your tasks two weeks in the future. This is a pretty big one for me. Having the ability to see everything for the month would be HUGE. I’ve already requested this feature.
  • Doesn’t keep track of the “chunks” you’ve completed. If you have a big task broken up into chunks and you complete a chunk, it doesn’t update the task to show how many chunks you’ve completed or what percentage of the work you have remaining.
  • Meeting scheduler is limited to a 2-hour timeframe (for example, I couldn’t use it to schedule a VIP Day, which is 4 hours)

Pros: Benefits of using Motion app to manage tasks and meetings

  • Visualize how your upcoming work fits into your schedule
  • Know at a glance if you have too much work and not enough time. Knowing this in advance can help you delegate earlier (and help keep you from the “I can’t delegate because I don’t have enough time to tell someone else how to do this” conundrum).
  • Automatically prioritize your tasks for the day & week. This saves me significant time and energy every day.
  • When your schedule changes, you have new work, or “life happens”, automatically adjust your schedule and tasks with the push of a button (very little thinking and energy required).
  • Flexible settings to accommodate a variety of working styles and preferences. Works like my own brain when it comes to setting priorities for work.

Final thoughts on Motion + how you can get an extended free trial and save $100

While I haven’t actually totally given up on time-blocking for my schedule, I’ve found a way to integrate it into my calendar in a way that actually makes sense for real life.

After using the 5-day trial, I decided that I saved enough time and energy from using Motion that it was worth the expense. Even with the downsides! Motion app has definitely become my go-to tool for my daily schedule (some days I even forget to open ClickUp).

To get a more in-depth walkthrough and see how Motion works, watch my walkthrough video at the top of this blog post. 

Then, if you want to try out Motion for yourself, you can actually get an extended 2-week trial (no credit card required) and save $100 (if you decide you love it and want to keep it).

If you’re interested in the extended trial or saving $100, just send me a message at support(at)theefficientcreative(dot)com and let me know you want a Motion referral code.

3 Myths (and One Truth) About Hiring a Virtual Assistant

3 Myths (and One Truth) About Hiring a Virtual Assistant


I talk with women who own creative online businesses literally every day, so let me tell you—if you’ve said to yourself, “I know I need to hire a Virtual Assistant, but…” believe me. You are NOT alone. There’s no shortage of ways you could finish that sentence. That is, there are a lot of reasons why you may feel like you can’t hire help in your business. And some of those reasons are valid. But many of them aren’t. Feel like you need to hire a Virtual Assistant, but you’re not convinced yet? Here are 3 of the most common myths about hiring a Virtual Assistant (and one big truth).

Show of hands: how many of you online entrepreneurs—when you started creating your online business—couldn’t wait to get bogged down in administrative tasks? OK, so that’s a ridiculous question, obviously. When you dreamt up your business, you were thinking of the ways you wanted to share your mission with the world. You wanted to help people solve a problem, create a beautiful space, or create meaningful results in their lives.

You started your business to help change lives, NOT to spend time on admin, right?

When you’re in your “honeymoon” phase of business development, you’re not envisioning the late nights responding to client emails, the “just let me finish this one newsletter before I start dinner” frenzy, the hours and energy that you’ll spend on business support work that really isn’t the reason you started this business in the first place.

But before long, that honeymoon phase is over and you ARE bogged down in management and administration. 

Where do you even start with finding great online business support? Fellow online entrepreneurs and Facebook groups can be a wealth of knowledge on the subject—for better or worse! Hiring a virtual assistant or other business support services (like a project manager or online business manager) can be daunting. So let me help make it easier.

I’m here to debunk 3 common myths you’ve probably heard about hiring a virtual assistant for your online business.


AKA: “It’s easier for me just to keep doing this work because I know how I want it done.” 

AKA: “Delegating to a virtual assistant just takes too much energy.”

AKA: “It would be a waste to hire someone else to do this when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself.”

YOU GUYS. Just… no. Believe me, I get it. When you first think of delegating, you can feel overwhelmed. Where do you even start? Fortunately, I have a lot to say on the subject of how to go about hiring a virtual assistant (and I can help you hire a VA without feeling totally overwhelmed.) 

The truth is, yes, there’s a little bit of extra time and energy that goes into onboarding a virtual assistant (or an online business manager). But when you find the right VA for your online business, you get that time back in spades. 

Which leads us to…


This is closely related to Myth #1 (and they’re both equally false—as long as you’re hiring the right person for business support services.) I wrote a whole post on this recently that breaks down how much more money you can bring in every quarter when you have the right online business help based on real-life examples.


If you’re an online entrepreneur who is struggling to get your first clients, then sure. It may benefit you to get to a place where you’ve got some revenue consistency. But if you have fairly consistent clients and you want to *grow* your business? I’ve gotta tell you: you’re ready.



  • Scheduling clients

  • Fidgeting with your client onboarding system

  • Scheduling your social media posts

  • Setting up your own lead pages

  • Formatting and scheduling your newsletters

  • Tracking down missed payments

  • Proofreading your own content

  • Tracking your own analytics

…just to name a few!

Are you ready to up-level your business? Then you need to be spending your work hours on client-attracting, high-value work. Are you still doing most of those jobs I listed above? If so, you’re going to find it harder to grow your business because you’re not spending your time where it counts. If that’s the case, I’d love for you to check out my Set Up to Scale Up program, where I help creative women with online businesses (just like you!) scale their businesses and increase revenue while doing what they love.

August Resource Roundup: Reclaiming My Time

August Resource Roundup: Reclaiming My Time


OK, Gentlewomen,

August brings two AMAZING articles for our inspirational resource roundup, both happen to be from Quartz Media. 

First, an article about how romance writers can churn out material like it’s their JOB. Because, you know… it is.

Professional romance novelists can write 3,000 words a day. Here’s how they do it

It’s so easy for us artistic types to wait for the muse before really getting down to work. I know I’ve been there, and I would bet that you have, too. But you’ve heard it before (and it really is true) that SHOWING UP day after day after day to create your art is the best way to invite the muse. 

It reminds me of an anecdote that I come back to a LOT. I originally heard it from a class that Ria Sharon teaches on Skillshare, but I’m not sure the origin of it. You may have heard it before.

In the story, there is a ceramics class. The teacher breaks up the class into two different groups. The teacher tells one group that their final grade will be based on the quantity of pots they produce. So, 50 pounds of pots might equal an A, 40 pounds a B, and so on.

The teacher tells the second group that their final grade will be based on quality. They only have to produce one pot all semester, but it must be a perfect one to get an A.

At the end of the semester, however, the highest QUALITY pots came from the group that was being graded on quantity. The moral of the story, of course, is that the best way for the students to improve their craft was to make as many as they could, day after day. It’s definitely a reminder that I need to come back to.

OK, second: 

“Reclaiming my time”: Strategies from a scholar of chronemics, the study of time

Don’t let the headline throw you off, this article was fantastic. There are so many parts that I want to quote, so many ways of thinking about time and how we relate to it that I had never stopped to examine. Thank goodness for Dawna Ballard, who is examining them. I’ll give just a few of my favorites here

Ask someone, “Hey, how’s it going?” she says, and they’ll probably answer by referring to how busy they are, or the vacation that starts the next day, or the limbo they’re in waiting for a message to be returned. They might mention the angst of a traffic or subway delay, and if it’s Friday, they may thank God for it. How we’re experiencing time is how we are.

…we’ve absorbed the message that “your time-discipline is a measure of your virtue as a person.

(Yikes! She’s right!)

I highly encourage you to go read the article not only for the Big Thoughts, but also for the genuinely helpful information that Ballard has about the way we interact with time (including a concept that I know a lot of artists and crafters struggle with: “Refuse to do unpaid labor”). Go take a look at the article and make sure you let me know what you think of it.

Go forth and conquer.

July Resource Roundup: Should You Bother Learning That New Skill?

July Resource Roundup: Should You Bother Learning That New Skill?



If you are anything like me (a multi-passionate creative type), you collect new knowledge and hobbies like others collect credit card rewards points. You may be like me and want to learn new things, but before you’re great at that new thing, you’re ready to move on and learn something else!

If so, here’s two great resources from July, both on the same topic. I recommend reading both because they each have individual takeaways.



Though the article isn’t chock-full of brand-new information, I appreciate the reminders (particularly about making information meaningful in order to remember it–telling ourselves stories really helps information stick!)



Oh, yeah, that’s the stuff. Leo starts out with the bad feelings that often accompany learning new skills or information: the feeling over being overwhelmed, the fear of failure. The article ends by flipping all of those negative feelings upside down and showing the benefit of each and how to be gentle with ourselves as we learn. 

And, the paradox:

Earlier in the month, I downloaded a few language training apps. My husband is always trying to learn new languages and I’m always *wishing* I spoke better French. So I downloaded some new apps and decided to keep at it.

Then I read this article by Jenny Marchal in Lifehack. In it, Marchal describes the goal lists that Warren Buffett recommends and it breaks down like this:

  1. Make a list of your top 25 life goals

  2. Think about which goals are the most important to you. Go through your list of 25 and cross off the ones that are less important to you until you have 5 goals remaining. These are your REAL goals.

  3. Concentrate only on those 5. Spend your time on those 5 and none of the others.

And I get what he’s saying: those of us who are always wanting to learn or do something new can have a hard time focusing on what’s important. So I wrote my list of goals and you know what didn’t make it to the top five? Learning better French.

Sure, it may be on that list of 25 goals. And maybe someday it will even be in the top 5. But right now, it’s not. So let it go! I feel better already.

What about you? If you’ve found an article or anything else that has been on your mind through the month, share it with the other Gentlewomen! Et merci!