Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” — Earl Nightingale
With over 3.1 million clicks on #timeblocking on TikTok, time blocking became a catchword as it is standing out among habits that would help in the improvement of time management.
But it gives a type of view where the outline is clear (it is definitely great for time saving) but when it comes to detail, it gets blurred.
We will define time blocking and show the ways of doing it effectively with the 6 tactics that include five dos and one don't to make it easy to follow but, first, let's see the terms.
Time Management and Time Blocking
Time management as a concept refers to the appropriate use of tools and techniques to control time.
It ranges from time calculations on low-priority needs to precise estimations of time on complex creative activities. The language of productivity is essentially the language of time management.
Hence, knowing how to communicate in time management allows a deeper understanding of productivity metrics.
And this is where time blocking, being one of the most effective time management techniques, comes in. There is a reason for mentioning time blocking in guides on time management for leaders.
Excluding time blocking from your scheduling strategies deprives you of the opportunity for growth.
It is important because knowing proper techniques of time allocation is power.
If you are an old school favoring pen and paper✒️📃, your time blocking looks as follows:
- You find an empty wall in your home or office where you can pin up a calendar or schedule board (You could also use a whiteboard or corkboard).
- You write down all of the tasks that need to be completed in order for you to achieve your goal [goal name].
- You draw boxes around each task and put a date next to each box that corresponds with when you need to complete that task on the calendar/schedule board (e.g., if today's date is May 3rd and your goal is to write an email on May 5th).
- As you complete each task, you cross it off the list (or cross it out with a pen or highlighter) as a measure against losing motivation.
If this seems like a lot of hassle, you can try a time tracking app like TMetric that allows wide opportunities for time blocking along with the tactics we list below.
Start big for smooth scheduling 🗓️
Time blocking works best if you schedule weekly. Planning tasks 7 days ahead will help see:
- which will be most time demanding
- which ones are hard to estimate with precision
- which can be batched and delegated.
Furthermore, it gives you a consistent approach you can use for scheduling all your task tasks and differentiate them best at a scale of importance and urgency.
Time block time for a daily update: it will take only 5 minutes a day to consider what tweaks your calendar needs. This way, you enhance your next work week stress-free.
Automate for easy timeboxing ✅
If you want to become a skillful time blocker, use automating tools that can do the magic of timeboxing. An activity or specific task is timeboxed if it is allocated a settled time limit (usually estimated with a margin for ensuring task completion).
Tools that computerize calculations and admin routines help set aside a specific amount of time for a future task on your calendar automatically.
Where it can be applied? Mostly, in planning meetings (the system will detect and show the available blocks so that you do not have to search where to squeeze them).
Use templates: a simple calendar template integrated with time tracking allows you to visualize your daily activities and, thus, get prepared for timeboxing.
Choose the time that works best for you🌄
Boost your time management outlook by blocking time according to your productivity peaks. Learn your productivity cycle, find the peak times when you perform best, and block it for the most challenging tasks.
The purpose is to align your energy management with your time management. It links time blocking with the development of the flow work model.
Besides, understanding your inner clock can help you build a 'customized' productivity system that will be working for you at any stage of your career.
Plan break time like you plan work time ☕
We often forget to have a proper break when we finish a task. It's an example of a negative habit.
At the same time, time blocking your break time has lots of benefits: for a start, it guarantees to sharpen your focus and ensures that the quality of your work will not decrease.
In the absence of planned downtime, neither mindfulness nor applying multiple productivity tips will relieve pressure.
Meanwhile, even making a mini pause tackles the overwhelm.
Time blocking your break time daily can:
- reduce stress
- enhance engagement
- diminish reactivity
- increase responsiveness.
Limit time on the task 🚦
Time blocking has proven to be a robust productivity principle, especially in combination with limiting time on task performance.
As it was stated in The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan:
For time blocks to actually block time, they must be protected. Although time blocking isn’t hard, protecting the time you’ve blocked is. The world doesn’t know your purpose or priorities and isn’t responsible for them—you are.
When you put time limits on tasks, it helps:
- allocate stretches of uninterrupted work
- work consciously and with intention.
Seeing progress toward the set time of task completion keeps us motivated.
This 'double hit' technique works particularly well for email management: the rule of thumb here is to block out limited chunks of time regularly once or twice a day to process emails.
Do not schedule tightly 🔀
The need for order is essential, but when there is too much of it, life becomes totalitarian. A lack of extra time for transition is what causes our cognition to go into overdrive.
Hence, when planning your work, group your tasks in monthly or weekly rough lists because you can't predict everything.
Then, identify the top things and build them in a time-blocking schedule. Do not forget to create margins to let you feel more in control.
Besides, be ready for unforeseen demands and don’t let them wreck your time blocking. Instead, create an extra time block that can absorb these last-minute items.
It's easy to dream about achieving your goals. But time blocking is the way to make it happen. Here's why:
- it makes you more productive
- It helps you set realistic expectations
- It helps you organize your priorities
- It helps you get into a routine that works for you
- It allows you to focus on one thing at a time, rather than multitasking and getting distracted by everything else going on around you
- It helps you plan ahead so that things don't pile up or fall behind schedule.
Timeboxing is a simple technique that allows you to take control of your time and conquer procrastination. This post explains how you can use time blocking to keep track of how much time you spend on each task, and also shows you 6 effective tactics to employ.