Life is moving faster than ever before and so are the demands on our time. We receive information speedier than we can process it. We are assigned duties quicker than we can deal with them. Communication itself is moving at lightning speed. At the end of the day, you realize there’s so much to do yet so little time to accomplish everything. Are days growing shorter than we can imagine? Definitely not, our fast-moving lifestyles need a new approach to doing things. That’s how time blocking has come to existence.
Time blocking is a tool that can help you increase your productivity. But how? Let’s dive into the basics.
Basically, time blocking is about allocating a period in your calendar for a specific task. This implies you can only focus on a particular task at any given time.
Time blocking is an easy process. How you do it may vary depending on the task, but make sure to keep Google Calendar close at all times.
The goal is to increase productivity but the reasons behind are many. Below are seven reasons why you should make time blocking a habit:
Let the calendar dictate your time. Most often we let other people take away our time that we would rather use for our important tasks. Those few minutes chatting in the office, 30-minute meetings and hour-long calls. You then end up working late or getting up too early to catch up with actual work, all because some of your time was sapped away during your standard workday. By blocking time on your calendar for different tasks, you can focus well without giving away a few precious hours. If something is on your calendar, then it’s sacrosanct.
Some urgent tasks may come up unexpectedly and somehow interfere with a block. If you are intentional with your time, then it’s easy for you to know what’s important for the moment. In fact, always resist the urge of dropping what you are doing for an urgent unimportant task unless it’s a genuine crisis. Planning beforehand will force you to make conscious decisions rather than allowing urgent distractions to win always.
Do you want to research a new marketing strategy? Write a monthly sales report? Draft that big end of the year presentation? Just schedule it. Time blocking forces you to do a task as per your calendar. It’s like a commitment to show up for a meeting. Otherwise, you will always find yourself procrastinating tasks to unknown dates and times. And if you find yourself time blocking yet the task keeps missing your schedule, then most likely it’s not a priority. It’s better to time block tasks based on their priority level than have something in your schedule and fail to do it. It will be a waste of time.
Problem-solving tasks need plenty of time and attention to detail. If you allow other people, multi-tasking or distractions take away small bits of your time, then it’s hard to find a solid hour for doing creative work. But, if you block time for one task, then you are able to concentrate and dig deep into the task alone.
Open loops are tasks that need to be done but lack the real next step. They use your thinking capacity and drain your mental processing power like several apps running in your PC’s background drain its processing power. Forcing one task for a specified period of time closes open loops and lets you work on concrete work that matters at that moment.
Obviously, it’s difficult to work like a programmed machine all day long. Some tiny tasks do come up at some point, such as checking your emails. These tiny tasks don’t really fill your time but they may be distracting in a way that affects productivity.
This is where batching comes in. Set aside a few 15 to 30-minute blocks throughout your day for doing tiny tasks so you don’t interfere with your working schedule every other time you hear an email notification or any other small task comes calling. Tim Ferriss covers batching in depth in his book; The 4-Hour Workweek.
It’s easy to put ten things on your to-do list but hard to accomplish them all. Not until you start scheduling every task is when you get an idea of how long every task can take. That means you can only do as much unlike lying to yourself that you can complete a whole lot. Time blocking makes you better at estimating how long tasks can take than simply guessing and failing to meet expectations.
What I’ve covered here are simply time blocking basics that can get you started on boosting your productivity. Time blocking allows you enough time to handle important tasks throughout your day, improves focus and quality, and leads to improved results; your take-home points at the very least.