What is Time-Blocking?
Time blocking is prioritizing and scheduling specific tasks, events, and daily activities on your calendar to be completed or acted upon on the assigned day and within the allocated time block.
There are many ways to time block your day. It all depends on the time you want to spend planning your days and the resources you have available. Here are some of the ways explained in detail and a few tips to get you started.
The Benefits of Time Blocking
Time blocking your day is the very first step to improving your productivity, reaching your goals faster, and most importantly to improving your well-being as a whole.
So how specifically does time blocking do this?
It Helps You Structure Your Day
According to a well known psychologist, Jordan Peterson, “…you should use your calendar to structure your days. Because if you know what you’re doing tomorrow it decreases your anxieties substantially.” Furthermore, he states that you need to have a path and you need to know where you are located on that path and how you are moving forward and “… that gives you hope because you’re moving towards goals that you regard as worthwhile.”
By following a routine and creating a plan for your day, you are able to accomplish more than if you just decided what you were going to do as the day goes by and you are much calmer and focused by doing so. Which in the end, improves your mental health and overall well-being.
It Shows You Where Your Time is Going
When you first use your calendar to time block your day, you will most likely notice several ‘holes’ throughout your day. Those are time periods that you are more likely to fill with meaningless tasks and activities that contribute nothing to improving your life. According to Brandon Burchard “If you leave your time to randomness, you are stealing from your greatness”.
On the other hand, if you block your time and fill your calendar with tasks that help you achieve your goals, you are less likely to squander it on trivial activities that add nothing to the quality of your life.
It Helps to Choose Your Priorities
Time blocking forces us to look at where our time is going and encourages us to reflect on our priorities and to choose what is really important. We can’t do it all in one day, so we need to look at the most important tasks we want to accomplish. Scheduling a specific time when we are going to work on that particular goal allows us to narrow down what needs to be done and what can wait.
It Encourages Focus
When you decide to concentrate on a specific task at a specific time, your focus flows into this one area. It helps you to focus on that one thing and at the same time encourages you to get into the state of flow where you become much more productive.
At the same time it discourages multitasking. When you focus on what you have planned for that time block, you are less likely to switch tasks or get distracted by other things.
In order to make the most of your focus during a specific time block may be a good idea to limit your distractions such as sounds from your computer or phone notifications or even contact with others.
It Increases Your Motivation
In their research paper, Beyond good intentions: Prompting people to make plans improves follow-through on important tasks, Dr. Rogers and his colleagues state that “…that prompting people to make concrete and specific plans makes people more likely to act on their good intentions”.
Time blocking is a perfect way to make specific plans as it allows you to decide what you’re going to do, when and how much time you’re going to spend it.
So when you start your day, you don’t have to use your brain power to decide what you’re going to do. You’ve already planned it out making it very easy for yourself to simply act upon your plan.
It Promotes Accountability
It also promotes the accountability for completing the task you have scheduled. When it’s right there on your calendar, staring you in the face, it is not that easy to ignore. So blocking some time for the activity you wish to engage in or to complete a task that will bring you closer to your goal helps motivate you and keep you accountable for actually doing it.
It Gives Your Realistic Time Frames
Hofstadter’s Law states that “it always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law”.
The bottom line? We grossly underestimate the time it will take us to complete whatever tasks we are working on or planning on working on. So in order to avoid disappointment , whatever time you think the task will take, especially if you have not done this particular task before, triple the time you are planning to spend on it.
A great way to measure how much time you spend on a specific task is to use The Pomodoro Technique. It allows you to track the time spent on the task with mini breaks built in, in order to allow for mental and physical refresh.
It Makes it Easier to Say ‘No’
Paraphrasing Derek Sivers – If it’s not a ‘HELL YES’, it’s a “NO’
When you fill your calendar with meaningful tasks and activities that contribute to achieving your goals, improving your relationships or your personal well-being, it is much easier to say no to the ‘opportunities’ that come along the way.
Time blocking allows you to see what you have planned for that particular day and time and assess if the scheduled task is worth sacrificing or rescheduling for the new event that just came to your attention.
It Clearly Shows Your Daily Accomplishments
Looking back at your day, you can clearly see all the things you have accomplished. Seeing many, most or possibly even all tasks completed is bound to bring you a sense of pride and satisfaction. It also builds your confidence and drive to accomplish just a little more tomorrow.
It Helps You Reflect on Your Day
Looking back at your day, you are not only able to see your accomplishments, but also things that you could change, adjust or improve for next time. It allows you to see how much time you really spent on a particular task and decide if maybe some of the tasks were not really worthwhile of your time. This process brings more clarity to your goals and to your life in general.
It Encourages Healthy Life Balance
When reflecting upon your day, it is easy to see which areas of your life get a lot of attention and which areas are neglected.
Depending on your priorities, time blocking gives you an unobstructed view of the time you commit to each area of your life. This may encourage you to consider the amount of time you commit to a specific area and prompt you to schedule your priorities differently to promote a healthier and more balanced life.
However you look at it, there are many benefits of time blocking that allow you to get clear on your goals, see where your time is truly going, focus on what matters most and encourages reflection and balance in your life.
You can get started today with this simple, yet effective time blocking calendar.