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We will cover the definition, benefits, struggles, examples, success tips, and how to start time blocking.
Definition of Time Blocking
Time blocking is a time management system to organize your day into bite-sized chunks. Each block is for a group of like tasks. It replaces your to-do list.
Benefits of Time Blocking
1. It helps you break things into bite-sized chunks. This helps you not get overwhelmed when doing big projects. You just write out your entire to-do list for the project line by line and schedule a little bit at a time. Just complete the items on your time block and over time you will complete your project.
2. When you put your to-do list on the calendar, you know the thing will get done. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to do it.
3. It helps you kick perfectionism and procrastination out the door. You know you only have an hour to do XYZ and you can’t spend endless amounts of time revising and tweaking it. You also know you have planned out your whole day and you can’t procrastinate.
4. It makes it easier to say no to people. When you create your schedule, you know if you can fit other things in or not. Your schedule says no for you.
5. You have to learn to plan realistically. If you know you have a one-hour time block, you know you can’t schedule to clean your whole house if that normally takes you two hours. You can schedule to do half of it though because you do have time to do that.
6. It helps you be more efficient because you can focus on the task at hand and you aren't multitasking.
7. It helps you prioritize because you schedule them first. If someone or something wants on your calendar, you know you have to say no to something that is already on the calendar. Is the thing you are trying to add worth that or not?
8. It helps you be more productive. You can do higher quality work because you can focus on the task at hand during your assigned time block.
9. It helps you to get out of reactive mode. Planning helps you not miss appointments, it helps you go after your dreams, it helps you be proactive and get a lot of stuff done and accomplish your dreams.
Struggles to Time Blocking
1. It takes a time commitment to set up (it does save time afterward though).
2. People give up too quickly. They don’t know how to do it and don’t stick around to evaluate and tweak it to get it right for them.
3. Some people don't like schedules because they think they are too rigid. They give you time freedom. You can relax a lot better knowing you have had a productive day and it doesn't make you feel lazy.
4. Few people have the same schedule each day. You don’t have to have the same time blocks every single day.
5. People don’t know how long tasks will take. Answer: guess how long a task will take and then during the evaluating step, you can give yourself more or less time.
How to Start Time Blocking
1. Brain dump & evaluate
Brain dump everything onto a piece of paper. Get everything out of your head. Get your to-do lists if you have any and write them down too. When you think you are done, ask yourself “Is that all?” and see if you can figure out anything else.
This should include any appointments, to-do list items, sticky notes all over the place, priorities, goals, etc. Put down everything even items you know you have to do like balance checkbook, laundry, cook dinner, etc.
Think of all of the hats you wear and write out every single thing you need to do for that role. Examples of roles/hats: household, administrative, finances, work, family, health, church, etc.
2. Group tasks together
Group all of the like items together. You don’t have to rewrite this list. Just get out a highlighter for each of your roles and highlight them. This will help in a later step too.
3. Schedule high priority items first
The high priority items always go onto the schedule first. These are the items like date night, church on Sunday mornings, therapy every Thursday, or any appointments on your phone. Goals fit into this category too. If you made a goal to exercise 20 minutes 3 times a week, write that down.
By always scheduling your high priority items, it ensures that they will get done and you don't have to worry about them falling to the wayside. These items will ALWAYS get done because you will make a point to schedule them FIRST.
4. Schedule blocks of time to do each group of items
Now it is time to schedule the lower priority tasks. They are important, but they aren’t your highest priority. You can choose to do all of your family’s financial stuff like balancing the checkbook, paying the bills, and creating a budget once a week or 10 minutes a day. Whatever works for you. You can do your chores once a week on Friday morning for 3 hours. Check the tips section below for help with this step.
Evaluating the most important step. This will ensure your success with the time blocking system. Before the next week of planning, just take a minute and ask yourself, what worked and what didn’t work.
If you don’t do this step, you will not be able to improve and keep getting better at time blocking. You have to figure out what worked, what didn’t, and why.
Note: This is not to judge yourself, self-sabotage, or let your perfectionism get in the way. This is just for informational purposes only.
For example: Maybe you schedule a task where you needed a lot of concentration right after lunch and you always come back from lunch sleepy. Not a good time for a task like that. Now you know you do not need to schedule a task like that right after lunch. Maybe you need to schedule it right when you get to work first thing when you are fresh.
When you evaluate, treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Never judge yourself.
Examples of Time Blocking Schedules:
**This is a loose example of time blocking for part of the day.
5:30-8:00 Morning Time Block
Get up and get ready for the day
Me Time- devotional, prayer, and quiet time
Get kids ready for the day
Eat breakfast and clean-up
Drop kids off at daycare
8:00-11:00 AM Work Block
Write proposals for new clients
Get things ready for monthly promotions
Attend team meeting
Cold call customers
Plan out week
These are just examples of blocks. Your blocks can be shorter or longer depending on how you want to set them up.
Tips for Success:
- Evaluate– this is the most important step. Don’t skip it.
- Leave your all or nothing attitude at the door. Don’t start time blocking with an all or nothing perfectionist attitude, it won’t work.
- Schedule breaks and transition time. Don’t just go from one task to another. Your brain needs time to adjust and refocus on the new task.
- Keep in mind when you are naturally more productive. Schedule your tasks that require a lot of brainpower then. Schedule your more mundane tasks like chores, during a time where you don't have to use a lot of brainpower. Do the same for your children too. If your child is more alert in the morning and less fussy, schedule their therapy then. Not after nap time when they wake up in a bad mood. Go with the flow so to speak.
- Put your block schedule into Google Calendar. That way you can set up reoccurring tasks and you can see it on your phone when you are out and about, and you don’t have to carry around a huge paper planner with you.
Time blocking and learning to plan effectively can change your life. You can learn to make time for the things that matter and say no to the things that don't. It is an essential part of mastering your time and productivity. Just remember to evaluate what's working and what isn't with an open mind.