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 benefits of time blocking and several methods of time blocking that appeal to different types of personalities and schedules.
Most Common Time Blocking Methods
Depending on your daily routine and priorities, you may choose a different way of assigning blocks of time to your tasks. The goal here is to find a time blocking method that suits your lifestyle the best and one that you are most likely to use consistently to improve your productivity.
General Time Blocks
This method is very suitable for stay at home moms who run their home and possibly a part time business based on their routine rather than a schedule.
General time blocking entails chunking your day into 1 to 3 hour blocks and filling those with specific tasks to be accomplished during that period of time, rather than assigning specific time to a specific task.
A general time blocking schedule may be divided into such chunks as:
BEFORE THE KIDS GET UP
—> WORK – finish orders from yesterday, get packages ready for pickup
AFTER KIDS GET UP
—-> MORNING ROUTINE
—-> BREAKFAST – scrambled eggs and bacon
—-> MORNING CHORES – make beds, change towels, sort laundry, walk the dog, make appointment to the dentist
—-> HOMESCHOOLING – go over today’s schedule and priorities with kids, get to work
LUNCH – leftover dinner from yesterday
—-> HOMESCHOOLING – kids – reading, arts and crafts, quiet activities; work – check and fill new orders
—-> AFTERNOON CHORES – tidy up rooms, dinner prep
DINNER – mashed potatoes, ribs, green salad
—-> FAMILY TIME
—-> KIDS EVENING ROUTINE
—-> WORK – finish up last orders from the day
The bigger blocks of time generally get filled with smaller tasks that need to be completed within that time frame. Whether it be specific tasks that have to be completed for work before the kids get up or chores that need to be done that afternoon.
In order for this strategy to be effective, it is best to focus on no more than 2 to 3 tasks in each block.
Also, since stay at home moms days vary significantly, this method allows to change the type and length of the block without looking specifically at the time when the tasks need to be completed. And it provides flexibility to insert time-specific appointments or engagements between or within the blocks.
Length Specific Time Blocks
When using this method, you are looking specifically at how much time you’ll be spending on a task as opposed to what time you’ll be doing it. This is a great choice for people who like to account for every minute of their day, but prefer to stick to a routine rather than a schedule.
A time-length specific block can look like this:
Morning routine – 30 minutes
Breakfast – 20 minutes
Commute to work – 30 minutes
Emails – 15 minutes
Planning for the day / schedule overview – 10 minutes
Coffee – 5 minutes
Working on the Vortex project – 2 hours
Break – 10 minutes
Meeting with Barb re: Alignment Project – 30 minutes
Calendar Time Blocking
Time blocking on your calendar is the most well known and most popular method. You can use a calendar app on your phone or your computer or a paper agenda to block your time in 15 or 30 minutes intervals to schedule all the most important tasks for your day.
This is a perfect option for those who live by the clock. Anyone with a corporate job or a day filled with meetings will appreciate this method of time blocking.
An example of this type of schedule would look something like this:
6:00 – Morning Routine
6:30 – Breakfast
7:00 – answer work emails and plan the day
8:30 – commute to work
9:00 – Vortex Project meeting
10:30 – meeting with John re: marketing for project Alignment
11:00 – complete estimated cost report for project Alignment
12:30 – lunch
1:30 – return phone calls from yesterday
Regardless of which time blocking method you choose, the point is to make yourself more accountable for your time and to accomplish more to help you focus on specific tasks at a specific time of day.
To get you started, choose one of the time blocking methods mentioned above and mark the time slots when you have meetings or appointments. Then look at the ‘holes’ on your daily calendar and use the following tips to help you get started on your road to a more focused and productive day.
7 Time Blocking Tips to Boost Your Focus and Productivity
Schedule Your Day the Night Before
The best way to start your day on a productive note is to plan it out the day before. Doing so will alleviate your anxiety about the next day, allow you to sleep better and in turn wake up refreshed knowing exactly what lays ahead.
Decide on the Top 2 or 3 Tasks You’d Like to Accomplish That Day.
Most of us have a mile long to-do list, but the reality is there is only so much time in a day. So looking at your list and picking out 2 to 3 most important tasks that will get you closer to your long term goals will bring focus to what needs to be done not and what can wait for another day.
Schedule the Most Important Task of the Day in Your First Available Time Block.
Since you have the most energy and the best brain power first thing in the morning, this is when you should schedule your most important task.
This task should be chosen carefully and reflect a step towards reaching your most important goal. It should not be the ‘most urgent’ task, but rather the ‘most influential’ step towards your long term goal.
Make Your Time Blocks as Specific as Possible.
The goal here is to list very specific tasks that are easily measurable and that allow you to know exactly if you managed to complete it or not within your time block.
Writing ‘work on the financial documents’ is very general and vague and you will not know if you accomplished it by the end of the block or not. On the other hand stating that you need to ‘complete the financial spreadsheet for Vortex project expenses’ is very specific and by the end of the allotted block you will know if you managed to get it done or not.
If you are trying to establish a morning routine, for example, you should dedicate a specific block of time to each task that you are trying to incorporate into your morning routine. However, if you have an established routine and you know that it takes you 45 minutes to get it all done, then by all means, just write ‘morning routine’ instead of itemizing each task.
Decide How Long the Task Will Most Likely Take and Multiply It by 3.
Take into consideration Hofstadter’s Law and basically triple the time you think you will need to complete the task. It is common knowledge that we often underestimate the amount of time a specific task will take, especially if we have not done that exact task before.
Therefore, do not over-schedule your day. Keep to the most important tasks on your list and if you really believe that you can do more, keep 1 or 2 additional tasks on your ‘if I have time’ list, somewhere on the side.
Color Code Your Blocks According to the Areas of Your Life
Use different colors to distinguish between tasks that relate to different areas of your life. Some of the areas may include work, family, social life, side hustle, personal development, health and wellness, rest and relaxation etc.
This allows you to track the amount of time you spend on different areas of your life. It is a great way to see the areas of your life that may need more of your attention. It will also help you to adjust your priorities to have a more balanced life.
Use Pomodoro Technique When Working on Longer Time Blocks.
When working with a longer block of time, remember to take breaks to stretch and refocus. The Pomodoro Technique is a very simple yet effective way to keep you focused when needed and to remind you to take a break when necessary. And it can be used as an additional tool to help you realize how much time you are really spending on a specific task.
Reflect and Adjust Your Time Blocks as Necessary
So your day is over and you’ve accomplished all that you have planned to do… or maybe not. This is a great time to look back and reflect upon what worked for you and what didn’t? What has taken you significantly more time than expected and what was done in a mere fraction of the time block assigned to it.
Reflecting and adjusting your time blocks is a necessary step that will help you grow and become even more productive the next day.
If you’re looking for a simple, printable, time blocking weekly calendar, Calendarpedia has you covered. Template number 4 is the most suitable for 30 minute time blocking intervals. Use the tips listed above to get you started on a more focused and productive path.