How to Use Time Blocking Technique
20 Nov 2023 • 4 min read • posted by Maria H
We've become experts at filling our schedules to the maximum searching for the highest productivity. However, such planning can make us rather overloaded than productive. Then how to plan smarter? Use time blocking.
Instead of juggling tasks haphazardly, time blocking method encourages us to divide specific blocks of time for particular tasks. It's more than just planning; it's about ensuring our efforts align perfectly with our goals.
TL;DR: it will take some time to set up time blocking. But once you see how it positively impacts your daily routine, you'll know it was all worth it.
How the Time Blocking Method Can Help You
Time blocking can seem to be wired. If you’ve already planned the day or week, why should you create those blocks? Why should you lock your time?
So let’s cover three main advantages that you receive by using a blocking schedule.
Stay focused. Distractions are everywhere. But with time blocking, you focus on one thing at a time. You set a block of time for one task and stick to it and you don't jump from one thing to another. And you always know what to do now or next.
Work-life balance. With time blocking, you set specific times for work and rest. This means you know when to work hard and when to relax. For people who work from home, this is great. It helps you keep work time and personal time separate. So, you can enjoy your free time without thinking about work.
Adaptable schedule. You shouldn’t lock yourself into a strict structure. When you use time blocking, you're setting aside dedicated slots for tasks, but these blocks can be moved as needed. For instance, if an unplanned event arises, you can shuffle your blocks around to accommodate it, ensuring that nothing is overlooked.
How to Use Time Blocking
Let’s break down the main steps of time blocking technique. To make things clearer, we've paired each step with helpful pictures.
List – Prioritize – Group
To start – we need to organize our tasks generally. It's like preparing the ingredients before cooking.
- List your tasks. Start by jotting down everything you want to accomplish. From your morning routine to writing essays, get it all on paper.
- Prioritize your tasks. Some things just need to get done before others. If you're unsure about how to decide which task should get the spotlight, first dive into our guide on how to prioritize tasks.
- Group similar tasks. Here's a neat trick: tasks that are similar in nature or require the same kind of energy. Group them together. It's like driving on a straight road instead of navigating twists and turns.
Estimate Task Duration
Before creating time blocks we need to have an idea of how long each task might take. So, for every task on your list, try to figure out a realistic timeframe. Maybe replying to emails feels like a 30-minute job, while diving into a new topic takes 2 hours. And here's a little secret: always give yourself a bit of wiggle room. Give yourself perhaps 15 minutes to switch to another task.
Create Time Blocks
Now it’s time to transform your calendar. Allocate specific chunks of time for each task in your schedule. Digital calendars such as Google Calendar or Motion allow you easy drag-and-drop features, making it simple to resize or move tasks around as needed. Be attentive and don't overlook the essentials: breaks, lunch hours, or other necessary pauses. For those who prefer manual planners, the principle remains the same: sketch out your time, balancing tasks and breaks, to create your productivity blueprint.
Review and Update
Take a minute at the end of the week to review your time blocking schedule. Check to see whether tasks were performed within the set time limits and which ones went over. Think about difficulties such as unexpected interruptions or work done faster than intended. Update your blocks for the coming week as well. Regularly doing such reviews can help you improve your time management abilities.
Tips to Time Block Your Schedule Effectively
We've laid out the basic steps of time blocking. The next part is all about making things better with 5 handy tips.
Identify Your Productive Time
We have certain hours when our energy and concentration levels are at their peak. There are plenty of factors that influence our productivity: your chronotype, the design of the workplace, etc. To determine your most productive time, pay attention to when you feel most alert, focused, and enthusiastic about your work. Consider tracking your energy levels and task performance over a week. Once you've identified these prime hours, prioritize your most demanding or complex tasks for these periods. Leveraging your natural rhythms this way ensures that you're working not hard but smart.
Try to Group Your Meetings
Meetings may be both productive and disruptive. They are necessary for communication and decision-making, but they could interrupt your flow throughout the day. By organizing them together, you could create time blocks of undisturbed work time. This decreases the mental effort of moving between tasks and talks, allowing you to stay in the 'meeting mindset' for a longer amount of time.
Reserve Time for Yourself
Work-life balance is more than simply a fashionable term. It is critical to our overall health. It is vital to make time for yourself. Read a new book, go on a stroll, or work on a hobby. Your mind requires a chance to reboot. Personal breaks not only recharge our batteries, but they may also ignite creativity and improve attention when we return to work. So go ahead and start living a happier, more balanced existence.
Build in Buffer Times
Unexpected things can always happen, no matter how carefully we plan. A task might take longer than you thought, or something urgent might come up out of nowhere. So add buffer times or short breaks between tasks in your schedule. Because time blocking is a flexible management strategy, you may change your plan at any moment.
It is critical to distinguish between time blocking and time boxing in this context. The time blocking system involves allocating work to certain time blocks. Whereas, time boxing – a fixed duration for a task, pushing you to complete it within that frame.
You are free to rearrange your blocks if some tasks require extra time or if priorities vary. And keep in mind that time blocking schedule is created to help you be more productive, not absolute laws to follow.
Try Time Blocking
Time blocking is an effective time management method for organizing your weekly plan. Setting aside particular tasks for blocks allows you to focus better and strike a nice balance between work and rest.
It will take some time to set up at first, but you will soon have your efficient daily time blocking routine. Just follow the steps and use the tips, and you'll see how it can change the way you manage your time.