Bringing order to the chaos of our daily lives is a lifelong challenge, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t strategies we can implement. At Hubstaff, we’ve written about a wide range of productivity methods, but none quite as easy or simple in nature as day theming.

Day theming kind of sounds like the strategy parents use where they label outfits with days of the week for a kid going away to summer camp, but it’s not as juvenile as it sounds.

The idea of day theming is to find similarities between each task and assign these different groupings a day of the week. But before we get started, let’s take a closer look at the definition.

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What is day theming?

Day theming is a time management method that simplifies the task batching method by encouraging users to create groupings of similar tasks and then dedicate certain days to a specific kind of work.

By grouping similar tasks, the goal is to prevent the negative effects of refocusing. These themed days help prevent you budget sufficient time for different types of tasks and prevent you from giving yourself mental whiplash. In fact, did you know that the average employee experiences a distraction every three minutes? To make matters worse, the average refocus time is 23 minutes

Who is day theming for?

Day theming works best for those with versatile, jack-of-all-trades roles, especially since we spend a lot of time switching between tasks.

For example, I’ve worked in roles where managing social media was only a small part of my job. I used the tool Hootsuite and made Monday the day that I scheduled all social posts across an array of platforms. This way, I could mentally move on from social media (barring something catastrophic) for the week. From there, I was able to focus on other job responsibilities like email marketing, hosting webinars, and managing the backend of the online bookstore.                                                                                

Benefits of day theming 

Like any productivity method, adding day theming to your arsenal of productivity techniques has numerous benefits. Below are a few of the key ways that day theming can benefit you in your daily life. 

Improved focus and productivity

That refocusing statistic above is super jarring, right? While day theming (or any productivity method, for that matter) can’t completely eliminate distractions, grouping similar work helps you enter the flow state a bit easier. If one item on your to-do list segues nicely into the next, it’s easier to convince yourself to power through instead of taking a break, checking your phone, or browsing the internet. 

Better time management

Methods like time boxing, task batching, and the Eisenhower Matrix might take a little extra time to set up, but they ultimately result in better time management. Day theming is the same way. While it may seem counterintuitive to sort your tasks, fight the inclination to just jump into your workload with no semblance of order. 

By organizing your work, you’ll notice connections you didn’t previously see. For instance, as content writers, day theming our work sometimes helps us write better. When you’re working on a bunch of work from the same topic cluster, you draw some extra influence from what others have written and bring it into your own work (without plagiarizing, of course). 

Reduced decision fatigue

Whether you consider yourself a great decision-maker or not, the reality is that even the quickest decisions still consume time. According to Psychology Today, we make 35,000 decisions a day. Even if each of those decisions was made in a second, that’s almost 10 hours a day spent deciding. No wonder we suffer from so much decision fatigue

The average person makes 35,000 decisions per day.

When you group out your tasks the night before using the day-theming method, that amounts to fewer decisions you need to make each day. When you have fewer decisions to make, you help prevent context switching and limit your likelihood of distraction

How to implement day theming

Anytime you implement a new productivity method, you might initially experience a decrease in productivity. That said, day theming is pretty simple to implement. If you’re ready to give it a try, here are the four steps to implementing day theming. 

Identify key areas of focus

Every job is different, and some have blurrier lines than others in terms of categorizing work. Still, you should be able to come up with five different key areas of focus (assuming you work a conventional five-day workweek). For example, you might think in terms of meetings, creative work, or admin tasks. Independent work that requires focus time might be another category. 

Assign themes to days

Once you’ve come up with your themes, it’s time to assign them to each day of the week. If you’re not sure how to make those decisions, you might want to build on the concept of biological prime time and plot your most productive days. 

You might also find you’re more creative or outgoing on certain days. For instance, I feel most creative in the afternoon or evening each day. If it were up to me, I’d probably be more inclined to have meetings in the middle of the week. 

If you’re in position to control these aspects of your week through day theming, it could provide a huge boost in productivity. You can use a time tracking and productivity tool to see how much time you’re spending on tasks and how productive you are to help in future decision-making. 

Hubstaff timesheets

Create a weekly schedule

Once you have your days plotted out and categorized accordingly, it’s time to build a schedule. Simply dubbing Tuesday “Social Media Day” probably isn’t enough. You can use a method like time blocking in conjunction with day theming in order to plan the blocks of time within each day. For the social media example, it could look like this: 

  • 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM. You might use this time to schedule new social media posts.
  • 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Next, you might start crafting copy for future posts and plotting them on the calendar.
  • 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM. To wind down for the day, you might want to browse social media for new content ideas, respond to comments, and engage with the community. 

If you like the idea of planning within each day, check out our time-blocking template. Whether you use time-blocking or just stick with day theming, make sure you start your planning a week ahead, so you stay focused and don’t lose sight of your primary goal.

Use tools and resources

Like any productivity method, you can’t expect success without embracing technology. With the right tools at your disposal, you can master the art of day theming and increase your productivity. Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

Timeboxing
  • Google Calendar. Whether you prefer Outlook, Google, or another platform, a calendar is a crucial component for day theming. Most calendar tools allow you to create recurring entries, color code by category, and even share calendars so your teammates know which days to schedule meetings vs. leave you to your deep work. 
  • Asana. If you’re trying to ensure that your day theming habits are transferable to larger projects, Asana is one of our favorite project management tools. The ability to seamlessly switch from calendar to Kanban and list view is huge. There are also detailed labeling systems, rules, and other features that make this method a breeze. 
  • Hubstaff. We’re biased, but our tool fits seamlessly with the day theming method. With the ability to track time for projects using your favorite project management tools, see activity levels, and manage productive websites and apps, you’ll have the data to identify the theme of each workday. 

Examples of day theming

Even with the right tools, you’re probably wondering if your profession is best suited for day theming. In my opinion, it’s hard to think of a profession that wouldn’t benefit from this method. Here are a few examples of ways you could bring this method to fruition across various job types.  

  • Real Estate Agent. A lot of real estate agents probably day theme by default. They might spend some days working from home, creating new listings. Some days are spent in the field showing apartments and houses. Others may involve continuing certifications or scheduling meetings with banks and other external vendors. 
  • Human Resources Manager. HR teams often wear a lot of hats. One day may be spent doing payroll for the entire company. On the other hand, you may see HR Managers schedule all their interviews with prospective candidates in one day. Creating the job listings and meeting with recruiters may occur on another day. Miscellaneous administrative tasks might even consume an entire day.
  • E-commerce Manager. If you manage an e-commerce store, each day may bring about new challenges and urgent tasks. Maybe you use Mondays for social media, Tuesdays for photo shoots, Wednesdays and Thursdays for product development, and Fridays for order fulfillment. 

These are just a few of the many examples of how the day theming method is conducive to virtually any career. 

Conclusion

Now that you’ve explored the concept of day theming, you can add the productivity method to your repertoire. By reducing decision fatigue, day theming can help you reach new productivity peaks and create a better work-life balance regardless of the profession in which you work. 

Do you have any experience using the day theming method? Have you found new and exciting ways to pair it with time blocking and other productivity methods? We’d love to hear from you.

Category: Time Management