Do you usually succeed in doing everything on your to-do list? Do you frequently work extra hours before the weekend because all your weekly tasks aren’t completed? Do you feel you could be more productive but don’t know how?
Here is an efficient and proven technique to optimize your time and boost your productivity: the time-blocking method. As much as employees, managers often wish for longer days to accomplish more. So, we’ve decided to give you a clear insight into time block schedules.
Time blocking is applicable for personal and professional lives, whether you want to get more done in the day or free some time to create a better work-life balance!
Sounds interesting? Sit down, take a few minutes, and learn more about this game-changing approach to time management.
The definition of a time block schedule
Time block scheduling in theory: definition
Time block scheduling is a time management method and a complex organizational system. With this tool, you schedule everyday activities as blocks, including break times to stretch your legs, go to the restrooms, and get a snack!
Famously used by Benjamin Franklin, this technique enables you to gain efficiency and productivity. Getting more things done in the same amount of time or less frees up some time in your day. You can use it to get more things done or give yourself time for leisure, enhancing a better work-life balance.
Time block scheduling in practice: example
So, how does it look in practice?
With time blocking, you dedicate a particular amount of time to a specific activity instead of going from one task to another and “quickly” checking some e-mails in between.
For example, a time block schedule for a day can be divided like this:
7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.: wake up slowly with meditation, breathing, stretching, or reading.
7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.: breakfast.
8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.: check and answer your e-mails.
8:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.: dedicate this time slot to deep work where you need to concentrate, like creating a report.
Then you block 1 hour for your lunch break.
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: save this timeframe for meetings.
3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: keep this hour free in case of unexpected events or to carry low focus tasks.
4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.: go through the e-mails of the day.
5 p.m. to 6 p.m.: dedicate this moment to yourself (personal appointments, hobbies, sports, etc.).
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The main benefits of using the time-blocking method
Focus and deep work
A time block schedule helps you remain focused and avoid being distracted. For example, you plan to check your e-mails at the beginning and end of the day. So the rest of the time, your mailbox stays closed, and your brain stresses on more valuable tasks.
Everything is orchestrated in your timetable, which is fine-tuned to perfection. Moreover, this enables you to perform single-tasking. Focusing on one activity at a time prevents your mind from wandering from one task to another and helps you be more concentrated, efficient, and productive.
Efficiency and productivity
To-do lists are great for planning your daily goals, and you should keep using them. However, if you don’t establish a plan for how to get them all done, only a few of them are likely to be done at the end of the day.
With time blocking, you know you have one hour to carry out this task before tackling the next one (for instance). This prevents you from being distracted and procrastinating.
Additionally, as you are about to discover by reading the basic rules for creating an effective time block schedule, considering your peak productivity is also key. You gain efficiency and productivity by allocating the moments of the day when you have the most energy and focus to the most critical tasks.
How many of us arrive at the end of the day being like: “Where did the day go?”
We’ve all been through this feeling at home or work. But with the time scheduling method, you can counter this feeling and better optimize your time from morning to evening.
For example, why would you plan a deep work activity at 2 p.m. if you struggle to focus after lunch? Reserve this time slot for shallow work, such as paperwork or appointments.
Another not-so-obvious but key advantage of adopting the time-blocking method is its ability to help you separate your work and private time. Not only is this beneficial for people that struggle to put a limit between their professional and personal lives, but it is also really helpful for remote employees.
A time block schedule includes time slots for sports, dinners with friends, family activities, personal care, and so on. Organizing your day by time blocks makes you visually separate these two aspects and automatically supports you in enhancing a better work-life balance and well-being.
Prioritize high-concentration tasks during your peak productivity
Are you more of a morning person or a night owl?
Peak productivity is different from one person to another. Considering this aspect when planning your day makes a huge difference in your efficiency and productivity.
Do you usually focus better in the morning? Then interact on social media and check the latest trends in your industry in the afternoon. Save your most productive moments, when your mind is at its peak, to complete your crucial and valuable tasks.
To make your time block schedule even more efficient, a good practice is to gather similar tasks together. For instance, if you often have several meetings during the day, try to do them all in the morning or the afternoon, keeping your peak productivity in mind.
If you struggle to categorize your tasks, divide them into two types: deep work vs. shallow work. Plan the deep work ones for your peak productivity period and the others for when you are less focused and productive.
A common mistake is forecastingt a block of one hour for a task that requires three. Not only does it bring frustration, but it also delays all the following tasks, causing stress. When you don’t have a clear idea of how much time you need for some tasks, we recommend you schedule extra time.
If checking e-mails take you 15 minutes, plan 30 minutes. One message might require more time than expected because you have to gather some information before answering, for example.
Rare are those who haven’t experienced an unanticipated event at work suddenly creating stress and anxiety. Imagine what happens if you stuff your timetable with plenty of tasks without room for emergencies. You end up with a domino effect resulting in working extra hours and growing some more gray hair.
So, to avoid this, always leave some time slots for urgent meetings, solving unexpected issues, etc.
On the same note, not taking breaks is counterintuitive. It increases your stress level and reduces your ability to focus. So, if you tend to work hours in a row without breaks, block a few minutes every hour or so to stand up, stretch, get a glass of water, etc. You can use the Pomodoro technique, which is another time management method.
Schedule time for personal activities (but don’t overdo it)
Blocking some time for yourself and your personal activities in your timetable is fundamental. First, these moments are as important as your work life. Second, even if you love your job, they are your carrot to stay motivated throughout the day.
However, your leisure time doesn’t have to be productive, does it? Adding these personal goals of the day shouldn’t make you see them as “things to do”. We recommend creating these blocks but don’t be too specific about what you will do. Like this, you still plan time for yourself but leave room for spontaneity.
Although this is a very organized and detailed time management method, it is important that you preserve a part of adaptability in your time block schedule.
The goal is to help you be more organized and productive, but it shouldn’t become a source of stress. This is why we recommend planning some slots for unexpected events, so it causes stress and anxiety when you need to readjust your timetable.
So, keep the rigidity away, and embrace flexibility! Flexible work is the future of work anyway. 🙌
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Physical time-blocking solutions
So now, how do you put time blocking in place? According to your preferences, you have two main options. The first one is to use physical time-blocking tools like a bullet journal or a printable sheet.
However, your manual schedule can get quickly cluttered with tons of notes resulting in no longer being so clear and organized as initially planned. At deskbird, we promote sustainable ideas, including the shift to a paperless office. So, if this is important for you, the second option is the best.
Digital time block scheduling tools
We recommend using digital time block scheduling tools as a convenient and accessible option for implementing this method. It can be used anytime and anywhere.
You can use an online calendar, like Google, Outlook, Microsoft, or Apple calendars, or other virtual resources offering a timetable option, such as Asana, Notion, or ToDoist.
Lastly, there are also specific time-blocking apps to help you schedule your day efficiently. Some famous ones include TimeCamp, Fantastical, and Focus Booster.
If you haven’t tried the time-blocking method yet, we highly recommend you give it a shot. You can first create your time block schedule on a digital calendar. If you get hooked by this time management technique like many before, you can later check time-blocking apps. But don’t forget the basic rules mentioned above to put all the odds in your favor to make the most of it and gain productivity.
Do you want to know about another concept that increases productivity? Give your staff the best working tools for achieving the best results!