The typical workday is 8 hours long. In theory, that seems like plenty of time to get all of your daily tasks and duties completed especially if you took the time to make a trusty to-do list. But more often than not, many feel that 8 hours is not enough time to get everything on their list done. And if you’re like me, you often need to work longer hours to balance your career, side business, and other ambitions. So, how are you supposed to make the most of your time and tackle all of your priorities without feeling like you want to pull your own hair out midday? The answer is simple: Time Blocking. Time blocking is the one tactic you need to finally conquer your day whether you’re working from home or at the office. Keep reading to learn about time blocking 101 and the 8 steps you need to master your day and your to-do list.
Time blocking is a time management strategy that enables you to create a blueprint for your time and schedule. Simply put, it is the practice of planning each moment of your day in advance by blocking out specific spans of time and dedicating them to completing specific tasks and responsibilities.
Yes, to-do lists are ok, but they only take you so far. Most of the time, you never are able to complete everything you listed, or you find yourself working much later than expected to get all of your daily tasks done. The reality is, to-do lists mean nothing if there’s no structure or order behind them. That’s why time-blocking is so great. When you block your time, you give more structure to those open-ended to-do lists that you can never seem to complete.
The Benefits of Time Blocking
Aside from what I mentioned above, there are a number of benefits that come with blocking your schedule including:
- Increased productivity.
- Improved focus and concentration, because you’re allowing yourself to focus on one task at a time.
- Helps you put your day into perspective. In turn, this helps you realize that you have more time on your hands than you thought.
- Time blocking helps you ditch multitasking (which actually slows productivity).
- Help you ditch perfectionism which is a roadblock to productivity.
Time Blocking 101: 8 Steps to Follow
Are you ready to time block and conquer your day! Follow these 8 steps, and let time blocking help you be more productive and make the most of your time each day.
Step 1: Block your schedule ahead of time
The first step is simple but shouldn’t be taken lightly. You shouldn’t try time-blocking on a whim. You need to have a plan in place before you go into action. I’d suggest actually making time to block your schedule the night before or before you begin your day. Once you get the hang of it, it shouldn’t take you more than 10-30 minutes, depending on your schedule.
Step 2: Identify high priority tasks, duties, and goals
When creating your block schedule, make sure that you are always doing so with your high priority tasks, duties, and goals in mind. I like to think of these items as your “why” aka what serves as your motivation for the day. Pick a few and choose to tackle them that day. I normally set 3 main goals/tasks for the day and incorporate them into my schedule.
Step 3: Incorporate your daily to-do list
Next up, think about your daily responsibilities and things on your daily to-do list. Include that. No item is too big or too small. Do you need to wash the dishes? Include that, schedule doctor’s appointments? Include it! Get the picture?
Step 4: Estimate how much time you’ll need to complete each identified task
It’s extremely important to be realistic about your time. Draw on past experiences to gauge how much time you’’ need to get everything done. But be careful not to underestimate. It is always better to overestimate.
Step 5: Create your blocks
When it is time to create your blocks, it is helpful to categorize them. Don’t get too hung up on specifics. Another thing to try is batching your tasks. For instance, for the time it takes to edit photos, draft emails, or schedule blog posts, I categorize (or batch) this as Content Creation. Other Categories could include house chores, emails, social media, learning, work deliverables, etc. The use of categories helps you to be flexible, as you can focus on doing any activity that falls under that category.
Step 6: Understand your work style
Everyone works at a different frequency. Time blocking can be a great tool if you make it work for you. One of the ways to accomplish this is to understand your work style and create your time blocking schedule around that. Are you an early riser? Night owl? Do you need a midday nap? What are your peak working hours?
Step 7: Map your blocks and assign a specific length of time to work on them
This step is pretty straightforward. Keep in mind here, the goal is not necessarily to complete the task (unless you have a hard deadline) but to make progress. When choosing time slots, you have to discipline yourself to have a hard start and stop times so that you can stick with your schedule. Don’t forget to include breaks! Remember, you want to be as realistic as possible.
Step 8: Set timers, if necessary
This last step is optional but I’d recommend doing it. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what you’re doing once you begin. Having timers preset will keep you on track towards completing all of your blocks. Once it goes off, stop and move to your next block. Make note of how long it really took you to complete your task and adjust accordingly the next day.
Time Blocking Resources
There are many tools available to help out time block. Whether you prefer digitally or writing out your plans for the next day. Personally, I prefer the old fashioned way, a good old planner and dry erase board. If you prefer digital, Google calendar is a great free resource.
This is a great and free resource that you can utilize for time blocking. It can be really fun too! Check it out here.
Dry Erase boards
There you have it! Have you tried time-blocking before? How do you like it? Let me know in the comments below!