How To Use Time-Blocking To Improve Your Productivity
Do you sometimes feel like you are always working but aren’t completing everything on your to-do list? Are you a procrastinator or a multitasker? These are some common struggles that nearly all of us can relate to. It’s an issue that both entrepreneurs and employees face in the business world, as well. No matter what career or job title you have, productivity is a goal we all aim to achieve. In fact, a common goal is to find ways to improve productivity. There is a simple and easy solution to improve productivity: the answer is time-blocking.
What Is Time-Blocking?
Time-blocking is the ultimate time-management method. It’s all about taking your to-do list and assigning a block of time to each task, so you stay on schedule to complete them. Instead of an open-ended to-do list of things that you will complete as you are able to, you schedule the time on your calendar to finish them.
Time-blocking isn’t just for tasks on your to-do list. It’s recommended that you create blocks of time for everything you do each day. Add your self-care time to your schedule, such as your exercise routine, meal breaks, and even walking your dog if you need to. Many families even schedule quality time together, whether it’s date nights or taking your child out for ice cream. In other words, if there is something important to you that you want to do, schedule it, so it gets done!
You might prefer to live spontaneously and think that time-blocking your day is too rigid for you. Think of it this way: Time-blocking is simply a guide to your day to keep you focused and on track to complete the tasks or goals you want to achieve each day. It’s not set in stone, and you can allow flexibility in your schedule, so you don’t feel too “blocked in” and controlled by your calendar. In fact, the point of time-blocking is that if you don’t control your schedule, your schedule will control you. Wouldn’t you rather take control of your schedule and give yourself the time off to do all of the fun things you never seem to have time for?
One of the benefits of time-blocking is that it prevents a lot of stress we experience when we are overwhelmed by all of the work we have on our to-do list. It promotes a sense of peace when we know that we have scheduled time to do everything that we need to do. No more lying awake in bed at night worrying about the running to-do list in your head, wondering how you will get everything done. It gives us time to focus on each task, so it gets finished quicker. Research shows that multitasking compromises your ability to do each task well. Flipping back and forth from task to task breaks your focus and concentration, which can take more time trying to remember what you were doing!
How To Use Time-Blocking To Improve Your Productivity
Successful leaders and self-made millionaires are intentional with their time. They create habits of success and a daily routine. They know that time management is a must to maximize their productivity. Time-blocking is the perfect method to use for improving your own productivity.
There are variations of time-blocking, such as task-batching, day-theming, and time-boxing. All variations are effective, so choose which one you think will work best for you. You can even do a combination of them!
- Task-Batching – Group similar (smaller) tasks together and schedule specific time blocks to complete them all at once. This works well for those who don’t like to keep a rigid time-blocked schedule. For this method, you block off chunks of time to focus on specific groups of small tasks, such as checking your email, social media, etc.
- Day-Theming – This is a more detailed version of task-batching that allows you to focus an entire day on a particular batch of tasks that belong to an area of responsibility. For example, Sundays might be your meal-prep day. Mondays are for your administrative duties and planning that set you up for a week of success. Tuesday could be the day you make yourself available for meetings and new client onboarding. Fridays might be catch-up days. You can still do time-blocking with your day-theming so that you plan accordingly for things such as meal breaks, checking your email twice daily, exercise, etc.
- Time-Boxing – This is a slight variant to time-blocking, where you schedule a block of time to complete a specific project or task. For example, you allow yourself two hours from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to write a blog post for your website. It’s ok if you finish early or need a little more time to finish it. However, this method works because it challenges you to focus and complete the task in a set amount of hours. It helps prevent procrastination by giving you a sense of a “deadline” that you have to meet, where there is no time for distractions.
To set up your time-blocking effectively, you will need to plan ahead a little each week. You will need to examine what tasks you need to accomplish each day of the week. A good tip is to figure out what times of the day you are most focused and productive. Block off time to do your deep work during the hours of the day you are most able to focus. If you lose energy throughout the day or get sleepy in the afternoon, schedule smaller things you don’t have to concentrate on.
If you have recurring meetings, try to set them at the same time each week or month. If possible, try to group other meetings back-to-back rather than spread out throughout the day. It makes it easier to stay focused on work when you aren’t frequently interrupted by meetings. This is especially helpful in preventing “waiting brain” for those who find it difficult to get anything done between meetings.
Finally, allow yourself a cushion of time around meetings and certain types of tasks. Meetings sometimes go longer than scheduled. Certain kinds of tasks may take longer than anticipated to complete. Or you might find yourself so focused and productive on whatever you are working on at the moment that you hate to break away and move on to the next time block. It’s perfectly acceptable to deviate from your schedule when you need to. The point is to improve your productivity in a way that works for you!