Have you ever ended the week, or the day, feeling unsatisfied? Like you could have done more with your day?
If you read any productivity articles online, or follow productivity blogs like mine, you have most likely heard of Time Blocking, which aims to solve this problem.
This is when you “block” out certain periods of time, usually on a calendar, to devote to a certain task. This is reminiscent of high school schedules, where you have “periods” for each class.
This is great for those who love structure in their day, but there are still benefits for those who prefer a more relaxed schedule.
Benefits of Time Blocking
Time blocking allows the practitioner to know exactly what their tasks are for the day, and, more importantly, when they should complete the task.
This allows one to feel more “in control” of their day, and feel more accomplished at the end of the week. They can simply look back at the calendar to see what they accomplished.
Also, this allows you to schedule free time where possible, so you can better coordinate meetups with your friends.
Additionally, when you devote an hour to a single task, you may start to enter a “flow” state, also called deep work. Thus, you are able to get much more done if you constantly switch between tasks.
This also ties into your various mental states of focus. Check out this article to learn more.
Why not a todo list?
A todo list would seem to solve the same problems as time blocking, right? Wrong.
Todo lists are great, but you have no way to track what you have completed once the task vanishes. While it does provide the “check off the list” satisfaction that many crave, being able to look back at what you did last week shows you truly how much you have accomplished.
This fosters pride in yourself, and builds more confidence in your abilities. This, in turn, makes you happier, which has been correlated to an increase in productivity.
With a todo list, you may often get overwhelmed with the mountain of tasks ahead of you.
With a calendar, you see that it is possible to complete these tasks in the schedule laid out for you. This avoids the woes of procrastination, because it makes it easier to get started.
How to Time Block
One can time block by creating a list of your tasks, and estimating how long each task will take. You can also do this in your head if you have a knack for time estimates.
Next, place those tasks into your calendar as “events” which span from a start time to an end time.
Make sure to put your hardest, most lengthy tasks in the morning, this is when your energy levels are highest.
The more mundane, easier tasks can be placed in your afternoon time slots.
Once you have finished making your schedule, take a step back, and look at how much you can accomplish in only a few hours!
With this schedule, make sure to allocate some time for yourself, if you can.
How to make it Flexible
Keeping your schedule flexible is so important, especially if you often have unexpected events pop up in your day.
Add 15 minutes in between tasks, which you can allocate to breaks, or use to “shift” your tasks 30 minutes forward/backward to accommodate an unexpected errand.
If an errand takes up a significant amount of your day, keep the most imperative tasks in your schedule for the day, and only move the insignificant assignments to the next day.
With this strategy, you are able to react to almost any change in your schedule and stay on your feet.