You have a dream, a goal, a plan, but how will you achieve it?
Whether you want to start up a successful business, run a marathon, climb Mount Everest, or learn to cook a 7-course gourmet meal, there is one surefire way to improve your likelihood of success. And it’s not difficult.
You MUST learn how to time block.
Time blocking is simply the process of setting aside time in your day and week for specific activities to happen at specific times.
I have found this trick to be absolutely imperative to my success in juggling my full-time job along with my side hustles, blogging, and teaching.
Advantages to Time Blocking:
Increased Focus: When your most important work is scheduled into your calendar you can focus on one thing at a time. You don’t have to worry about emails while you are playing with your children because you have blocked a specific time in your day to handle emails. Time blocking will allow you better focus in all areas of your life.
Increased Productivity: When you have a specific time blocked for a specific activity, barring any true emergencies, you will be more productive. You will not be distracted and your productive increases. Additionally, you will be able to schedule certain activities at certain times of the day to reflect your most productive times. For example, I know it takes less mental energy for me to respond to emails, yet for years, that is how I would start my day. My most productive time of day is in the morning so to give that time up to an activity that doesn’t require as much mental energy was not good planning. Now, I schedule my content writing for the earlier hours of the day when I am most alert and focused. Emails can come later at night or during my afternoon slump.
Less Stress: Knowing that the important work is scheduled also decreases your stress level. You no longer have to worry about getting things done, because you know they are scheduled. If something comes up, you can move your schedule around. In time blocking you will still have open time slots and breathing room for when tasks run over a bit.
How to Time Block:
It doesn’t matter if you use a paper calendar or an electronic one, you can still time block. I find that using an electronic one is easier to manipulate week after week. It is also easier to move things around within the week as needed.
1. Determine your most important work for each week.
2. Estimate, until you have a more solidified idea, how long a task will take. It’s better to overestimate than underestimate.
3. Be as specific as possible about the tasks. For instance, instead of just putting “blog work” on my calendar I broke it down further into the following: blog content, blog images, blog brainstorming, blog promotion, blog admin.
4. Take some time to reflect on when your most productive part of the day is. Not everyone’s is the same.
5. Group your tasks into those that take a lot of mental energy and those that require little mental energy.
6. Create appointments for yourself and put them on your calendar. Make sure you put the tasks that require a lot of mental energy at your most productive time.
Another item to consider is location and other distractions.
If you are working from home, like me, your most productive time might not coincide with your most focused time. My most productive time is in the early morning, but that is also the time that my children most need my attention. You need to factor that in when planning your schedule.
For instance, over the summer, when my children are home, I have compromised and do my most important work between 12-2 while my little one naps and the older one is allowed screen time. While it is not my most productive time of day, it is the least distracted time of day. If they sleep in, I know that I can also get a little extra time in the morning before they wake up.
I use Google calendar to do my time blocking, which is also how my husband and I manage our entire family calendar. I created ongoing appointments for all of my weekly tasks and had them set to show up on Sunday.
On Thursday or Friday, I look ahead to the following week and move the appointments into time slots. Every week is not the same, so I need to adjust weekly.
If something comes up, I do not hesitate to move my time blocks around. Sick children, doctor appointments, etc. have caused me to move my time blocks around a lot lately. However, knowing that I had the time set aside and could still get them done made it less stressful (not stress-free) when this happened.
Tips for Making Time blocking more effective:
• Put notes of what you’re working on in the description of the event. For instance, when I have a time block for “blog content” I put notes about what articles I should work on. These notes help me to get focused and started faster thus increasing my productivity.
• Allow breathing room in your schedule. Your calendar should not all be blocked out. Just your most important work that must happen needs to be on your calendar. If you have a goal, you must block time to achieve it, because otherwise, life will get in the way.
• Limit the length of time you will work on one task. No matter what the task is, your brain and body will need a break. If you want to work on a specific project 3 hours 2x a week, you might consider blocking either six, one-hour segments or three, two-hour segments.
• Do not attempt to multi-task. Keep your blocks of time focused on one activity. The idea that multi-tasking equals higher productivity has been proven inaccurate.
If you have big dreams and goals, then you MUST take the time (it will only take a few minutes) to learn how to time block. It will be worth it for what you will accomplish.