We all can feel overwhelmed by our daily schedule to the point where we are no longer productive even though we feel "busy". During those times, getting ahead seems impossible as more often than not you don’t feel in charge of your schedule or life.
Of course, you can try making a to-do list, but those have a tendency of disappearing to the back of your mind shortly after you start your day. You need something more effective and stronger, with a lot more structure. You need to time block.
Time blocking entails arranging your tasks into the various hours of the day in order to achieve maximum productivity. It is a great way to design your days so that you are left in charge and living proactively, rather than reactively.
Benefits of Time Blocking
Several reasons why you should try time-blocking include:
- It Prioritizes Your Work - Time blocking helps you commit to and focus on the things that are most important to you. Think of it as setting up an unshakeable must-do calendar event, but this time using your daily schedule.
- It Helps You Work without Distractions - Distractions are an unavoidable part of life. But by giving you a specific time to work on an important task, time blocking makes it easier for you to focus on what is important.
- It Takes Away the Mental Burden of Switching From One Task to Another - Switching between tasks can make it very difficult to fully mentally engage on whatever task you have at hand. Time blocking helps you avoid entering the haze of distraction by keeping you focused on one task at a time. If you are anything like me, this is the hardest part. I see a shiny new thing and I want to switch my focus.
How to Time Block
- Start with the High-Level Priorities - To define what is “high priority” and what is not, you first have to understand why you want to use time blocking. Once you understand what you want to accomplish, you can know what needs to be prioritized and placed on your list.
- Create a “Bookend Template” for the Day - What will you be doing before and after work? Start with those before you begin allocating the hours of your day to various tasks. Figure out your morning routine and how you will disconnect from work at the end of the day.
- Allocate Time for Both Deep and Shallow Assignments - You want to create a balance between meaningful work that requires deep focus, and daily tasks that simply require your time. You can’t spend the entire day doing tedious, demanding work; rather you can allocate such work to when you are most focused and productive, and allocate the other unavoidable but less important work to other hours.
- Set Time Aside for Reactive Work - No matter how in charge of your day you would like to be (It’s the reason why you’re time blocking), there are reactive tasks that lie out of your hands which you will have to pay attention to. These include replying to emails, answering calls, and showing up at meetings (So, so many ZOOM meetings!). However, the good thing about time blocking is that it helps you decide when you are going to pay attention to these things.
- Write Down Your To-Do List and Fit Activities In the Time Blocks - With all the various boxes designated on your time block map, all you have to do to get started is fill in the various tasks for any day. Write a to-do list to make this easier, and then fill in the tasks into the time blocks you consider appropriate.
Time blocking is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of where your time is going every day. It may be challenging in the beginning, but as you get used to time blocking you quickly realize that is one of the best time management strategies at your disposal.