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Productivity tips are a dime a dozen these days, and filtering through them all to find something that’s truly helpful takes up too much time. Luckily, filtering through it all is kind of my job, which is how I came across the idea of time blocking.
Of course, I’ve been doing this here and there without realizing what it was. Most of us block time to do certain tasks regularly, but we don’t time block our entire daily schedule. Doing so is a major productivity booster though.
I practiced time blocking the last two weeks. I didn’t time block every single day, but I did on the days I was really busy. The days were much more focused and productive when I did time block than the days when I just winged it. The simple switch to time blocking came with measurable, noticeable benefits.
What is Time Blocking?
First I want to clarify what exactly time blocking is. Time blocking is the act of designating certain amounts of time to specific tasks. You can designate 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, two hours, or any other amount of time. You just choose the amount of time you have available and think is sufficient enough to complete the task.
The easiest way to choose what to time block is by lumping your tasks. So instead of blocking 10 minutes to vacuum, five minutes to dust, and so on, you block off 30 minutes to clean. For me, this means I block off about two to three hours to do all of my writing for the day, an hour for emails, 30 minutes for social media, and 30 minutes to an hour for the day’s chores or errands.
The Benefits of Time Blocking
The main benefit to time blocking is it allows you to hone in on specific things and minimize distractions. When you’ve dedicated your time to doing a specific thing, you can focus solely on that. There’s no multitasking or jumping around.
Time blocking is also a major time saver in the sense that you don’t have to wonder what you need to do next. You know exactly what you should be doing and for how long, and what you’ll do after that. It eliminates the need to constantly check your to-do list.
Most of us struggle to finish tasks when we know there’s not a real deadline to complete it. Time blocking fixes that. Because there’s a deadline, it keeps you motivated to finish your work so the rest of your time blocking isn’t thrown off. It’s one of the best ways to beat the impulse to procrastinate.
I’ve found I’m a faster worker when I time block. Knowing that I only have a limited amount of time before I need to do something else really lights a fire. I write quickly, I speed-read my emails, and I don’t over-think what I’m doing. At the end of the day, I have more substantial evidence of my work.
Tips for Time Blocking
Before you dive into time blocking, you have to consider your daily schedule and lifestyle. This is particularly important if you have to be at certain places or in meetings at specific times. You can’t exactly tell your boss you need to skip the team meeting because you time blocked that hour for your emails. Work your time blocking around those things.
If you have meetings spread sporadically throughout the work day, then your time blocking will need to be done in smaller increments. Instead of blocking off two or three hours to a certain project, you can block off 30 minutes spread between meetings to specific parts of that project.
Even if you can dedicate multiple hours to completing certain tasks, it’s often best to break it up. If you block off five hours for something, you’re giving yourself a lot of time to procrastinate. Our minds like to justify procrastinating as much as possible, and that wide of a time frame is perfect ammunition. Break it down into one-hour increments separated by other tasks. For example, I like to block off one to two hours for writing in the morning, followed by an hour or so for video outlines or prepping for various things, and then I follow it with another hour or two of writing. This keeps me from becoming bored and burned out, and allows me to finish one complete writing assignment instead of one-and-a-half.
Time blocking is a great way for you figure out a daily routine for yourself as well. When you know how different parts of your day are going to be spent, and you repeat it day after day, you create a routine for yourself. Routines are helpful for a number of reasons, but especially for tending to all aspects of your life. Because you’re faster and more focused with your work tasks, you actually have time to tend to your home, take care of yourself, and spent time with your family. Time blocking gives you the ability to plan when you’ll do all of those things.