I feel like there are never enough hours in the day. I’m constantly two steps behind where I’d like to be, and before I know it, I look at the clock and it’s two p.m. If I’m at work, I’ve likely not accomplished what I want to for the day, and if I’m at home I’m baffled by how the laundry is hasn’t moved to the dryer, and my daughter is still in pajamas. If this sounds familiar I found something that will be a game changer. It’s called time blocking. Check out how I use time blocking to get more done throughout the day and make progress toward my goals. All without working more.
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Ok, I get it, a schedule for time blocking seems impossible
You’re BUSY. I know. I’m right there with you. I run back to back in one hour or thirty-minute meetings most of my day. You can barely find any time to block at all, much less multiple blocks throughout the week.
At this point, take control of your schedule. Move meetings to be closer together so you can free up calendar slots. Decline a few meetings and push out to a later date. Do whatever you can to get a few one hour time blocks together.
After you’ve done that, find your 30-minute slots. You can’t fill every 30 minutes all day because, umm sleeping, but I’m sure that even after all your moving you can find another couple of small holes during the week.
If you work for yourself, schedule times of the day for certain tasks, and then break up your day the way I suggest below.
Here’s a great overview of how time blocking really works, and why you should do it.
How to implement time blocking as a strategy
Now that you have your slots, break them into 30-minute sections (yes, I know I just told you to find one-hour blocks) with key things you need to do. These 30-minute sections should be dedicated to key tasks.
You’ll set a timer for 25 minutes and do NOTHING but they key task assigned to that period. You’ll then take a five-minute break to reset, check email, do what you need to do, and then begin again. You need to be laser focused in the 25-minute sprint to get max results out of the time blocking strategy.
I wanted you to look for a few one-hour slots or longer so that you can make significant progress against your key goals or projects in one day. While each of the 30-minute tasks adds up, dedicating an hour or more per day to pursuing a project or goal will make it move much quicker.
Allocate a certain number of time blocks to each task
The time blocking strategy forces you to prioritize tasks and to complete them during a certain window. What it doesn’t totally layout is how long each task should take. Based on your past experience with your project or task list, allocate a certain number of blocks for each task on a project.
For instance, if you know you only work 80 blocks (40 hours/week) and you have 10 projects, you likely can’t spend 40 blocks on one project. You won’t have this totally figured out at the beginning. Obviously, the time needed for each task shifts during a project’s life cycle, but you’ll have a good starting point.
Get more efficient
This is the part where you cut out all the fluff. Now that you know you have 25 minutes to fully accomplish one task, the time needs to count. Be ruthless in what you need to do to truly finish a task. Remember that done is better than perfect, and cut out any unnecessary tasks or work that aren’t 100% aligned with moving you toward your goal.
Above and beyond and nice-to-haves are a thing of the past when you’re marching ruthlessly toward a goal. Become laser-focused on what you need to do to accomplish your goal, and use the 25-minute block like it’s the last time you can spend on your project.
These key mindset shifts of working in short sprints and being “done” with tasks after 25 minutes will force you to get more productive and efficient quickly. Now that you’ve adopted a new way of working, it’s time to implement check-ins.
Track your progress against key milestones
In the past, you may have been compelled to check in once every few weeks, or even monthly on goals. Now that you’ve condensed your working timeline, it’s time to narrow that timeline. I like to check in weekly. Did your dedicated time blocks progress your project?
If not, what can you adjust next week to make a difference? Have you hit all the key milestones on the initial project timeline?
If something is taking up too many time blocks, assess the ROI
ROI is your return on investment. Everything you do has an ROI because saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. You know how many hours a week you can work and/or dedicate to your projects. If you’re not making progress or any one task is taking up too much time, assess the return on investment. If your ROI is low, do you really need to be doing that task?
Often we’ll set up a schedule and priorities along with associated tasks at the beginning of a project, only to find out later that they aren’t doing what we anticipated they’d do. If they aren’t moving you forward exponentially see if you can cut them.
See how you’re doing
Do a larger macro check in on your to-do list and goals to see how you’re moving along once you start time blocking. Are things easier? Do you feel less stressed, or are there more check marks on your to-do list? If the answer is yes, keep at it. Continue to push for finding those time blocks that you can use to be laser-focused on productivity and your projects.