You've successfully subscribed to Dandy Cat Design.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Dandy Cat Design.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated. You now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.

Dandy Cast 035: Here’s how I greatly reduced the daily stress I feel...

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

This podcast episode was recorded as an accompanying audio version of the Dandy Newsletter that was published on July 28, 2020.

I'd love for you to join my mailing list. It's a really groovy place. You'll get all my latest productivity tips and Dandy Cat Design news before anyone else. Sign up below today!


Show notes

I’m feeling a little embarrassed—me, a self-styled productivity lover, have been feeling over-stressed because I haven’t been organizing my days well. Instead of letting the shame mark me, however, I’ve chosen to do something about it instead. Cue the scheduling!

I’ve used a technique called time blocking to categorize my days and fit in all my tasks. I’ve now got a well-ordered calendar, and best of all, I’m feeling less anxious than ever. I believe that time blocking is a wonderful tool that can help many people. Must be why I recorded a whole episode about it.

There’s also a brand spankin’ new blog post waiting for you. It’s called, Understanding the Dynamic Content Blocks in Ghost.

I’ve loved hosting the Dandy Cat Design website on Ghost. It’s simple to use and more powerful than I could have hoped for. Its crowning jewel is the writing experience. They give you many different tools to take your written text and turn it into a vibrant, interactive experience for your site’s visitors. Read this post today to learn how to use them all.

We’re wrapping things up with what I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week. It’s a great assortment of media that’s worth your time.

Links to stuff that was mentioned:

Fantastical

”How to manage my time better” search - Google

Knucklebones - Wikipedia

More Movies Please! - Libsyn

Understanding the Dynamic Content Blocks in Ghost - Dandy Cat Design

Ghost

The Velcro Side - California King

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight - IMDb

Let England Shake | PJ Harvey - YouTube

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards - Goodreads


The full text

The Dandy Newsletter — 07/28/20

I’m in a calendar frame of mind these days. Not only did I write about my favorite calendar app, Fantastical, a few weeks ago, I’ve also got a couple other things cooking:

  1. This here post.
  2. An upcoming, multi-part series of blog posts about both the basics of using a calendar app and some more advanced scheduling tips.

I’m quite excited about that second bit, but that’s not really what the Dandy Newsletter is about this week. Instead, I want to talk a little about stress, specifically my own.

For someone who bills themselves as a productivity lover, I’ve been dropping the ball with my day-to-day schedule. It not only left me feeling like I was treading water with a frantic urgency, but I’m sure my work was suffering, too. The worst part about my poor planning was feeling a low-level hum of anxiety every day but not knowing what was causing it. I’d wake up and immediately start sorting out the things I thought I should do, work throughout the day, and finally push myself away from my desk in the early evening wondering if I’d done enough.

I was making myself feel sick. The sort of sickness that seems senseless. It was putting a strain on myself and I’m certain I wasn’t the most enjoyable person to be around at the end of each day. Let’s face it, I was a bother.

Is this sort of behavior familiar to you? Do you find yourself fretting about what you need to get done each day and kicking yourself when you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished enough by the end of it? It’s a common issue, and I feel confident saying that because you can find heaps of blog posts about this very topic with a simple Google search.

We’re making ourselves feel downright terrible because we’re not approaching our days with a plan, and not just any plan, but one that really kicks butt. Instead, we’re either trying to figure things out as we go along or we’re only going halfway with our schedules. I was doing a combination of both and it lead me to where I was before I felt I had to change everything for my own well-being.

My daily routine consisted of:

  • Wake up and eat breakfast while trying not to think about all I had to do that day.
  • Sit in my desk chair, fire up the computer (or iPad), and make a cursory glance at my task manager.
  • Get distracted by some news stories.
  • Recall what day it is and do some of the stuff that was appropriate for that day, e.g. write a blog post on Wednesday.
  • Have lunch.
  • Get distracted again by, I don’t know, news or Reddit or something.
  • Come up with an idea of what small things I could do for the rest of the afternoon.
  • Have dinner.
  • Make a new list of to-dos in my task manager that I should try to accomplish the next day.

Repeat ad infinitum.

It’s clear there’s not a lot of order and intentionality with a schedule like that. It feels a little like playing the ball and jacks game (or knucklebones, as it’s originally called): my day begins (the ball is bounced) and I try to accomplish as much as I can before it ends (grab as many jacks as you can before the ball comes down). It’s hectic, haphazard, and unpleasant. I knew I had to change things if I wanted to feel happier, but I didn’t know where to start at that time.

Not until I remembered reading about time blocking. Good thing I did because I was feeling pretty dang terrible by this point.

Time blocking is a method of time management that involves breaking your day into separate blocks of time and assigning tasks to those blocks. Why try to accomplish everything at once when you can devote an hour to a single task? I mean, duh Sean. Our days can already be broken into hour-long chunks. Why not take advantage of that?

There’s a difference between approaching your day with a carefree attitude and with intentionality. I had been approaching my own without any plan in place. I was winging my life! Look where that got me.

When I decided that I needed to change things, I did it in my typical way: by making a list. Here’s what I came up with:

Monday - Editing Day

11:00-13:00 - Dandy Cast editing and uploading
13:30-14:30 - Blog post editing
17:00-18:00 - Dandy Cat admin

Tuesday - Social Day

10:00-10:30 - Blog and newsletter publishing
10:30-11:00 - Podcast publishing
12:30-15:00 - Pinterest and Twitter management
17:00-18:00 - Dandy Cat admin

Wednesday - Writing Day

10:30-12:30 - Blog writing
13:00-15:00 - Newsletter writing
17:00-18:00 - Dandy Cat admin

Thursday - Recording Day

10:00-11:00 - Edit Dandy Newsletter
11:00-12:00 - Dandy Cast recording
13:00-15:00 - More Movies Please! recording
17:00-18:00 - Dandy Cat admin

Friday - Wrapping Up Day

10:30-11:00 - Blog post preparation
11:00-11:30 - Dandy Cat admin

Saturday - Lazy Day

Do whatever you want. Seriously. Breaks are good.

Sunday - Preparation Day

17:00-19:00 - Grocery shopping
19:30-23:00 - Laundry

I planned, wrote, and modified all that out in my Notes app before setting it in stone by placing it all in my calendar.

A screenshot of the Fantastical app on iPad showing a week of time-blocked events.

When I say “set in stone,” I mean it. If I could actually chisel that schedule into a hunk of rock, I would. I don’t treat my calendar as something flexible and able to be changed on a whim, and neither should you. When something goes in there, it stays there. It takes a whole heck of a lot to convince me to alter that schedule.

Since blocking out my time and categorizing my days, I’ve felt amazing. I’ve noticed such a distinct feeling of relief since starting this practice. The anxiety about my schedule that I was carrying has evaporated like clouds during a hot day, leaving me with a bright blue view ahead of me.

I don’t believe that we always feel stressed by the amount of things we have to do (although that can be the case at times). Instead, I believe the stress we feel is caused by a simple lack of structure and order. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by our days when we’re being crushed by a messy mountain of stuff. When we get rid of the mess, we get rid of the stress.

You want content blocks? You've got 'em!

There’s a new blog post waiting for you. Hip-hip-hooray! 🎉

It’s called: Understanding the Dynamic Content Blocks in Ghost.

Anyone who’s been following along with my work for some time knows that I left Squarespace and started using Ghost as my website and blogging platform. There are some huge differences between the two platforms, but when it comes to writing and publishing a blog post, they’re very similar.

Take the content blocks in Squarespace, for example. With them, you can add a huge assortment of things, such as:

  • Images
  • Code
  • Instagram cards
  • Markdown blocks
  • Spacers

The list sometimes feels never-ending. Ghost wouldn’t have been as attractive or useful to me if I couldn’t add many of the same content blocks with ease. Luckily, publishing a blog post in Ghost is just that easy. They’ve got a large and powerful assortment of tools waiting for you right now.

I’m doing a deep breakdown of each content block type that Ghost offers. Seriously, by the end of this week’s post, you’re going to be a Blogging in Ghost Master. Follow the link above to begin your journey to mastery. I’m covering everything. Give it a read today!

If you ever want to throw some suggestions my way, then send me a reply to this email. They’re always wonderful to receive.

Seriously friend, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time cats, stay informed, stay safe, and stand up for what’s right. Black lives matter and wear a dang mask.

Podcast

Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶


Dandy Cast

Subscribe to my weekly podcast in your favorite podcast player.

Apple Podcasts icon

Apple Podcasts

Castro icon

Castro

Overcast icon

Overcast

Pocket Casts icon

Pocket Casts

Spotify icon

Spotify

Google Podcasts icon

Google Podcasts


Listen to the latest episode...