Time blocking is the ultimate form of practicing productivity. It requires you to schedule every minute of your day out in order to cut back on distractions and ensure the work is getting done.
Before you completely shut out the idea, I’m here to tell you IT WORKS! It might sound constricting but it really does increase your productivity so that you can get your work done during your scheduled work hours because no one enjoys sitting in their laptop light at 2:00 AM wondering why they didn’t get anything done earlier in the day.
So how does time blocking work and actually help you free up your time? Let’s get into it.
Check your to-do list
First things first, look at your project management system to see what’s coming up. I would recommend doing this first thing in the morning before you start any work. Schedule in 15-30 minutes to plan out your day based on your tasks in your queue.
You could also do this the day before if you’d rather wake up and already have a plan in place. If you’re interested in this, I’d do it when your workday is wrapping up. Jump ahead to the next day and schedule out your tasks based on priority.
It’s important to be realistic about the time it will take you to complete the tasks and schedule everything in there during your work hours.
Prioritize what needs to be done first
If you’re unsure of where to start with prioritizing your time blocking, start with reoccurring tasks. Those are the easiest to tackle because you’re the most familiar with them and you have a great idea of how long they take you to complete. Then move on to the top 5 tasks you must complete for the day, in order -- and don’t skip them.
If you have a task that isn’t your favorite, you might start with that to get it over with and move on to thinks you enjoy more throughout the day.
I wrote a whole blog post about prioritizing your tasks but the main takeaway is to be organized and don’t overthink it. You know what you have to get done, so do those tasks first.
Time block every aspect of your day
When I say schedule everything, I mean schedule e v e r y t h i n g.
Schedule in your morning routine, your lunch breaks, your appointments, your personal events, your bookkeeping, your phone calls (maybe even phone breaks) so that you can get everything done on your to-do list without continuously pushing tasks over to the next day.
It’s also important to schedule these tasks in a time frame that feels good to you. If you only have time to work 6 hours a day then make sure you’re making the most of those 6 hours with uninterrupted work.
You can also schedule in your activities after work to make sure you’re getting everything you want to do done. Schedule in your gym time, your family time, your dinner time, if you have to go to the store, etc. You can schedule every minute of your day if that will help you actually get it all done, which is the goal of time blocking!
See below for a screenshot of my calendar, it may seem overwhelming but I have everything color-coded, items in the description (read more below) and my time all blocked off.
Write out all the details in your calendar
In order for time blocking to be effective, you need to write down everything you have to accomplish with a task. Doing this will help you gauge how productive your time was spent and the more specific you are, the better. For example, if you’re blocking off 11:00 am - 11:45 am to come up with blog titles, be a little more specific -- “Come up with 4 blog titles for next month and write 4 short bullet points for each title that I want to emphasize on.” That is much more specific and it helps you know what your goal is by the end of the time blocked section.
Don’t let distractions creep in while your time is blocked off
There’s nothing to run your productivity like a Slack message during your 2-hour intensive writing session. These are the kind of things we should easily avoid. It takes an average of 25 minutes to refocus after an interruption and you don’t have 25 minutes to waste each time your phone lights up, so put it on do not disturb! I know, I know, you’re like but what if I need it? I get it, so schedule that time into your calendar. Seriously.
It’s so important to stick to your time block and keep your distractions to an absolute minimum.
When I was writing this blog post, I scheduled the time in my system and focused solely on writing so it only took me about 45 minutes versus the 2 hours it could have taken if I allowed distractions or notifications to creep in.
Do you work in time blocks and have you found that it increases your productivity? Leave a comment below, I’d love to learn more about your strategy!
Rooting for you,