The Art of Time Blocking and Making It Work For You
Updated: Mar 5, 2020
What it is…
Time blocking is the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities. While a standard
TO-DO List tells you what you need to do, time blocking tells you when you are going to
While it would initially feel like you are maxing out your calendar space and making it look chaotic, it has the reverse effect. When your calendar is full of things which you need to complete, it makes it harder for others to steal your productive time or worse encroach on personal time or critical time.
Why It Works…
The main reason time blocking works is because it’s a tool built to induce focus. If we don’t box in a task and block that time, we are in danger of letting the task expand so it fills up all or more time than required for its completion. So essentially, we are guarding against distractions.
We are also focusing on a single task at a time which makes you so much more productive than splitting your attention across multiple tasks. Also, when you know that you have specific scheduled time for focusing on emails, Slack, or any other instant messaging platform or social media for that matter (Let’s call them reactive tasks!), you are less likely to give in to the urge of breaking the block to check a message or post and give in to the “fear of missing out” or FOMO that these tools create.
While time blocking will help you glean maximum results, there are a few reasons that this could fail for many. The reasons:
1. Some are reluctant to put in the time and effort into laying out the schedule
2. Some of our schedules are subject to frequent changes based on requests, demands and
the ever-so-familiar “Urgent” requirement
3. Often time taken for a task is grossly underestimated
4. Some workplaces won’t understand the concept of time blocking, and so time blocking
may not fit in with the ethos you want to create
Now that we have examined why time blocking may fail for some, let’s work on harnessing one of the most powerful time management strategies out there.
There are many ways of doing this, of course; but let’s take the simplest approach.
1. Identifying Goals and Related Tasks:
The first and most critical step is figuring out your most important goals and targets, both long-term and short-term. Start by classifying your segments such as health, family, partner and business goals. Once you have defined your goal, set about assigning tasks to each of these; for instance, health could include meal planning and yoga, while business goals could be broken into client work, emails, copy, blog, fixing websites, meetings, calls, etc. This clarity helps to stay motivated and committed to the cause.
2. Assign Time Frames - Time Yourself!:
Once you have your goals and tasks defined, you then need to work in plausible timelines for the task. Now, this is what frustrates many, as they assume the time a task may take but end up finding out you took up way too much time; and now your time block is shot to smithereens. IInstead, time yourself on a task or set a timer and commit to a hard stop. A great tool for this is Clockify ~ https://clockify.me/ ~ which will help you analyze your time investments. Keep your time realistic as much as possible.
When you have a realistic handle on your time spends, then start looking at your Income Producing Activities (IPA’s) in order of priority . . . closest to cash, weekly income activities, monthly activities, and quarterly activities . . . and start scheduling in blocks of time for each. For example, you may want to set aside a block in a week to review financials, billing, payment follow-ups, statistics, and administrative but essential tasks. Also, slot in time for doing what you really thrive at! This, for instance, generates higher productivity; and greater creativity would be a bonus obviously if this activity were an IPA: for example, making social media creatives!
4. Allocate White Time a.k.a. Buffer Time:
Plan as much as possible in advance, and build in a buffer time or white time where you go back and attend to tasks you committed on a hard stop for tasks that you needed to revisit or touch up, or something that went wrong because of Mercury retrograde! Build in a buffer! All that is required is a bit of proactive thinking.
5. Plan Tasks According to Energy Cycles:
When scheduling time blocks, pay attention to your energy cycles, too. This is imperative so you can match the more pressing and focus-driven task to when you are at your energy peak, whereas responding to emails or a call can be scheduled in when you know your energy is bound to drop – like say after lunch!
6. Calendar It!:
Now that you are all thought out, timed, and buffered, actually go ahead and calendar it! Yes, Google calendars will work just fine; and here is a video on showing you how it’s best done ~ https://youtu.be/y9P_2kFSDvI
7. Start Small and Conquer!:
Are you finding all the information here daunting, and you are ready to give up even before you start? Well, try starting with one day of the week, a Saturday perhaps, and schedule in your time blocks around chores and family time. Then, when you have mastered this, apply it to a workday at a time - and voila!
8. The Most Important Step: Never Give Up!:
Invest a bit more time on fine tuning your schedule at the beginning, and you will end up with a fail-proof tool for productivity. Work on resilience, persistence and consistency, and say goodbye to those time thieves!
Written by Tatum De Souza