Do you start Mondays with a feeling of dread? Are you overwhelmed by the number of things you need to get done and have trouble getting started? You’re not alone. Many people have trouble facing the week ahead with a “can do” attitude.
But imagine if your week was segmented into highly productive days, made up of timed activities. Each day is laid out, so that you can wake up and know exactly what’s on your plate and when you’re going to get to it. This sounds more like the start to a productive week, right?
The key to this highly productive, yet balanced schedule is a tool called time blocking.
First, we’ll take a look at what time blocking is and why it’s so useful. Then, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of putting these newfound skills to use. Let’s get started!
Time blocking: what’s it all about?
You may have heard of this concept before, or perhaps it’s brand new to you.
The simplest way of thinking about time blocking is it’s a tool used to schedule chunks of time into your calendar for focusing on one task or activity at a time.
Think of it as setting an appointment for yourself. You’re less likely to break a scheduled appointment than you are to skip an item on your “to-do” list.
But with so much accessibility online these days, it’s all too easy to get distracted or to try to do too much at once.
The problem with “multitasking” is it doesn’t actually exist.
Our brains can only truly focus on one thing at a time, and yet, many of us try to think about three things at once. Guess how much gets done when we “multitask?” Not a whole lot.
Enter time blocking. Each task or activity is given its own space in your calendar with a start time and end time. You dedicate your focus to one task at a time, and before you know it, you’re getting things done!
The basics of penciling in your “to-dos” seem obvious, but what are some specific ways time blocking can be used to ensure a productive week?
6 Time Blocking Tips to Boost Productivity
1. Start by prioritizing your activities.
Productivity comes from completing the things you’ve set out to do.
So, the first step to prioritizing your activities is to identify your goals and responsibilities. Dig deep to determine what is most important to you and make a list.
How would you number them in order of importance and urgency? Which ones should repeat daily? Which should take place only once a week?
Prioritizing takes sitting down and thinking through your goals and aspirations. Time blocking requires breaking down those goals into manageable segments.
These segmented goals (think: baby steps) can then be inputted into a calendar, like Google calendar, where you can set reminders and view your schedule.
Think about where you want to be next week, next month, or next year. What steps can you start taking now to get there?
2. Plan for more time than you think you’ll need.
Now that you’ve decided what your priorities are, it’s time to input these activities into your calendar.
Consider how much time you can commit to each activity, especially if you have several to get to.
Though you may be able to complete certain tasks more quickly, it’s more common to need additional time to get things done.
Add an extra 15-20, or even 30 minutes, to each block of time. It’s better to have planned for more time than necessary than to feel stressed out or discouraged by not having scheduled enough time.
Plus, switching gears from one activity to another requires some buffer time for your brain. This extra time will give you a chance to make the necessary mental shift.
3. >>Insert breaks<<
So, now you’ve got your list of tasks to complete. You’ve scheduled them in terms of priority and added additional time for completion. Time to get to work, right?
Not so fast. You still need to factor in taking breaks.
Ah, breaks. You know, those spaces throughout your day when you get to breathe in some fresh air, stretch your legs, grab a fresh cup of coffee, and rest your brain.
Not sounding familiar? They should! Breaks are extremely important to balancing your highly-focused blocks of work with time to clear your head or touch base with yourself.
Be sure to schedule periods of rest between dedicated activities.
4. Include time to decompress, play, and learn.
You now have your high priority tasks and breaks time blocked. You have a better idea of when your workday will start and when it will end.
Now, it’s time to look at your schedule to make sure you’ve included time for yourself.
Many people forget to figure in “me time” when they jot out their activities for the day or week.
The problem here is, if “me time” isn’t considered early enough, it’s all too easy to keep working, lose inspiration, or simply get burned out.
Create regular blocks of time that you dedicate to caring for yourself, nourishing your body, and practicing being more attuned to your thoughts.
You’ll find this leads to a more balanced, happier you.
5. Move blocks of time around to adjust when necessary.
The greatest part about time blocking is that it’s not set in stone.
Your schedule can be flexible when you need it to by shifting your priorities and time blocked activities around.
If you work remotely, you already know that being productive at home takes some patience. Many possible reasons can cause your schedule to shift.
Don’t let this get you down. Simply move your blocked tasks to a later part of the day or week. However, acknowledge that you’ve set this appointment with yourself and that you’re going to get it done.
6. Pay attention to your productivity.
This one can be sort of tricky. How can you tell how productive you’ve been? What’s the point of tracking productivity?
Well, the whole idea of time blocking is to focus and make progress, so knowing how successful you’ve been is pretty important.
Using a goal tracker like ClickUp will give you a much clearer idea of whether or not you’re reaching your targeted goals.
You can also reflect on what times of day you’re able to produce the best work, or how your time blocked activities best flow together.
Consider other ways you can boost your own progress and practice checking in on yourself.
It’s All About Balance
Keeping your days and week balanced with both focused and restful periods will truly improve productivity and help you feel a lot better.
By creating a process to time block your schedule, you put yourself on a more structured trajectory towards achieving your goals and dreams.
You practice holding yourself accountable for the things you need and want to get done. And, you’re less likely to skip out entirely when you’ve created appointments for yourself in your calendar.
Enjoy a more rounded day and week and feel good about making progress when you apply time blocking as a productivity tool.
What activities do you think are the easiest to time block? Which are the hardest? Why do you think this is? Share your experience in the comments below!