Time Management
Mastering the Art of Day Theming

Mastering the Art of Day Theming

Judy Tsuei
July 21, 2023
Updated on:

Mastering the Art of Day Theming
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Do you find it hard to focus at work? Are you often bouncing from subject to subject, without making meaningful progress on either one? Day theming is an approach to time management that can help you develop your workflow, find your rhythm, and experience greater momentum in your daily life.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What day theming is
  • The benefits of day theming
  • How to start day theming
  • Common challenges to day theming and how to fix them

If you’re interested in becoming more productive, read on!

What is day theming?

Day theming is a method where you assign specific days to specific types of work. For example, a marketing manager might dedicate Mondays to project management, Tuesdays and Wednesdays to content creation, and Thursdays and Fridays to meetings.

If the concept of day theming sounds familiar to you, that could be because it’s essentially task batching on a bigger scale. Someone who practices task batching might focus on email for an hour, deep work for two hours, then meetings for another hour.

Task batching is all about grouping similar tasks in hourly chunks, while day theming dedicates an entire day to a specific theme.

What are the benefits of day theming?

Besides being in the company of productivity icons Jack Dorsey (Twitter, Block) and Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX), there are so many reasons to consider day theming in your own personal routine:

  • Increased productivity and focus

There’s a reason multitasking is a productivity killer — and that reason is context switching. Research tells us that switching from one task to another can cost you up to 40% of your productive time! That’s because it takes time for your brain to fully “leave” Task A and focus on Task B (a phenomenon called attention residue). The point of day theming is to focus on one type of work at a time, which helps you limit the negative effects of multitasking and context switching. 

  • Better time management

Having a daily theme adds structure to your routine and allows you to kick off every workday with purpose, not procrastination. It also protects you from decision fatigue!

  • Reduced stress and anxiety

When you theme your days, it becomes so easy to ditch the chaos and settle into a more predictable routine. Day theming also paves the way for better work-life balance. 

How to implement day theming in 7 easy steps

Another thing we love about day theming: it’s simple. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to successfully apply day theming to your life:

1. Identify your priorities and goals

Ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Is there a new skill you’d like to learn? A new revenue goal you’d like to hit? Reflect on (and write down) your short- and long-term goals.

Without this important first step, you might be tempted to pull out your to-do list and create themes from what you see. The only problem: If your current to-do list doesn’t reflect the vision you have for your life, then day theming won’t be as powerful. Yes — day theming can help you handle your daily tasks with more ease. But it can also help you reach your next level! 

Get clear on your goals first, then allow these goals to become the foundation for your day theming strategy. You’ll be better for it in the long run.

2. Define your themes

Now that your priorities and goals are in focus, it’s time to organize them into themes. There’s no one right way to do this. Elon Musk once shared that his work week is divided between companies: Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at SpaceX; Wednesday and Thursday at Tesla.

For Jack Dorsey, themed days weren’t based on company but on type of work. “Monday is management. At Square we have a directional meeting, at Twitter we have our opcomm [operating committee] meeting. Tuesday is product, engineering, and design. Wednesday is marketing, growth, and communications. Thursday is partnership and developers. Friday is company and culture,” he shared with Fast Company

However you define your themes, just make it work for you. And don’t worry about getting it perfect — you can always adjust later on.

3. Assign themes

Time to pull out the calendar! Decide which theme to pair with each day of the week. There are a lot of nuances that could come into play here. For example, if you’re a hybrid worker, in-office days could be more conducive for a particular type of work.

Note that some themes might need more than a full day. Some people even like to set a weekly theme. Do your best to estimate the amount of time that different tasks take.

4. Plan and schedule your tasks

Next up, schedule your tasks according to the daily theme. This step can be as simple as creating a to-do list for every theme. Or, you can come up with a full-blown time blocking schedule.

It all depends on your work style. Time blocking is great if you like more structure. It also combats decision fatigue by fixing your work week ahead of time.

5. Set boundaries

Day theming provides structure that helps you set boundaries around your time and energy. Aside from the themes themselves, here are some other boundary-related elements to consider:

  • Work hours: What times will you start and stop working each day?
  • Digital boundaries: How will you ensure that social media, email, Slack (and more) don’t get in the way of your focus?
  • Team collaboration: How will you express your availability with other team members? That brings us to our next point…

6. Communicate your schedule

To prevent the team from scheduling a brainstorming session on your writing day, make sure you have a system for sharing your availability. A shared team calendar like Clockwise is perfect for this.

All you need to do is set your work hours and meeting availability, then Clockwise optimizes your calendar according to your preferences:

Clockwise also syncs your availability to a shared team calendar so that team members are always on the same page:

However you decide to communicate your theme days, just make sure it’s as clear as possible. This will prevent scheduling conflicts and miscommunication, and it’ll go a long way in helping you stay on-theme each and every day.

7. Adapt and iterate

Like Marie Forleo says, “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” Planning your themed days will only take you so far — you need to get out of your head and actually experience your new workflow.

Trial it for a week, and notice where you’d like to see improvements for the next week. Don’t be afraid to tweak your original plan until it works for you.

Common challenges to day theming (and their solutions!)

Challenge #1: Difficulty sticking to the schedule

Sticking to a strict schedule can be challenging, especially in the beginning. It’s normal for the occasional off-theme task to sneak into your day. But if it becomes a pattern, here are some pointers:

  • Try building in flexibility. Leave some buffer time in your schedule to accommodate unexpected tasks or interruptions. This flexibility ensures you can adapt without derailing your entire day.
  • Switch up your schedule. Explore potential reasons your current plan isn’t working. Do you need more than one day for specific tasks? Should you switch your Tuesday theme with your Thursday theme?

Challenge #2: Unexpected interruptions

An urgent work request. A sudden cold. While you can’t control all of life’s surprises, you can take some steps to minimize or manage these interruptions effectively:

  • Communicate your boundaries. If you get a last-minute work request that isn’t in-line with today’s theme, gently remind the other person of your themed days. You can say: “Thanks for sending this over! I work on x-related tasks every Wednesday, so I’ll start on this then.” By openly communicating your availability and boundaries, you can reduce interruptions and create a more collaborative work environment.
  • Time block for reactive tasks. Set aside specific time blocks within your themed day to handle urgent tasks that may arise. By intentionally planning for these interruptions, you maintain control over your schedule while still addressing important matters. Think of it as an emergency fund for your time!

Challenge #3: Managing multiple priorities

It’s very possible that even with themed days, you’re still trying to juggle too much. Here’s what to do if you’re feeling overwhelmed:

  • Prioritize. Identify the most important tasks within each themed day and prioritize them accordingly (we’re fans of the Eisenhower Matrix as a framework for prioritization).
  • Automate with AI. With today’s tech, you can automate most of the repetitive, mundane tasks that would otherwise eat up your time. If you’re not sure where to start, start with the root of your time management — your calendar. Clockwise AI is the first GPT-powered calendar experience that makes scheduling as easy as having a conversation. Join the waitlist for early access at

ai scheduler

Going forward

Day theming helps to bring clarity, structure, and productivity to your work and personal life — especially when paired with a powerful tool like Clockwise. By devoting an entire day to a specific theme, you keep context switching under control, helping you to find your groove.

About the author

Judy Tsuei

Judy Tsuei is a Simon & Schuster author, speaker, and podcast host. She’s been featured in MindBodyGreen, BBC Travel, Fast Company, Hello Giggles, and more. As the founder of Wild Hearted Words, a creative marketing agency for global brands, Judy is also a mentor with the Founder Institute, the world's largest pre-seed accelerator. Judy advocates for mental and emotional health on her popular podcast, F*ck Saving Face. Follow along her journey at

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