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Time Blocking: Your Way To Reducing Chaos 

Do you find it hard to understand your accomplishments even after working hard the entire day? Do you have too much on your plate on most days and are still looking for a way to get through the day without feeling disappointed? Do you want to be more productive but need to know how to start?

If your answer to these questions is yes, you landed at the right place and time. You suffer from a typical time management problem in most scenarios mentioned above. The productivity hack we are covering here helps you precisely solve that. In general terms, it’s known as Time Blocking. It provides a great way to achieve much more in the day by controlling your time, contributing to higher productivity. 

In his book, “Deep Work,” Cal Newport mentions that a 40-hour time-blocked work week may lead to an estimate of work equal to the output of a 60+ hour week pursued without a structure. And that is about 20+ hours of work wasted. Hence, using time blocking to integrate your focus and regain control over your workday seems more of a necessity.

Time blocking is an ideal hack for people who: 
  1. Juggle between multiple projects/jobs/work styles.
  2. Spend a lot of time responding to emails and messages 
  3. Have several meetings lined up for a single day 
  4. Have constant interruptions between work throughout 
  5. Struggle to find the time or space for big-picture thinking

What is the concept behind time blocking?

Time blocking is a time management productivity hack or method that asks you to divide your day into chunks of time – with each block or chip dedicated to a specific task or group of to-dos and only those particular tasks. For example, instead of keeping an open-ended to-do list of things you’ll get to as you can, you can start each day with a concrete schedule that plans your day.  

The key to this productivity method is prioritizing your task list well in advance. It is suggested that you do a weekly review now and then and understand what’s coming for the week ahead of you. Using this information, you must sketch your time blocks for each day. 

This is to be done so that you review your tasks quickly at the end of each workday. Also, time blocking works well with diseases like ADHD, and focus problems. This technique will help you block your time in advance and make conscious, informed decisions about what you should do with your time. All you need to do is follow up with your time-blocked schedule. For example, if you get off-task or distracted, look at your schedule and return to whichever task you blocked off time for.

How do you use time blocking to increase productivity?

Time blocking usually involves task batching and day theming, as supplemented productivity hacks. Time blocking is a simple yet effective way to make the most of multiple projects and responsibilities. Time blocking has a few distinct cousins or variations you can pick up from task batching, day theming, and time boxing. Timeboxing, or scheduling particular time blocks for a specific job. 

Day theming is when you focus on each type of work on a particular day. For instance, you do content writing on Mondays, content networking on Tuesdays, content management or research on Wednesdays, and so on. This helps you be more focused instead of all over the place. 

It is a more extreme version of task batching for people with different responsibilities requiring undivided attention. For example, instead of blocking a time for each area of responsibility, this method dedicates a full day each week to each of your tasks.

On the other hand, task batching is when you group similar (usually smaller) tasks and schedule specific time blocks to complete them all simultaneously. 

By tackling similar functions in a group, you’ll limit the context-switching you must do throughout your day. This way, you also save a lot of time and energy. For instance, about 20 minutes is efficient to process all your emails during the day instead of scattering them out the entire day.

Time blocking couples great with task batching because it saves you from scheduling every job on your calendar. All you need to do is block time frames each day or week for completing a particular activity or group of activities, e.g., email, workouts, meetings, writing, coding, deep work, or running errands.

What Should You Not Worry About?

In his book, Cal Newport also mentions the rules for focused success in a distracted world, wherein he highlights the importance of time blocking, wherein he dedicates 20 minutes every evening to scheduling the next work day. 

Time blocking and time boxing are often confused as being synonymous, but there’s a significant difference. Time blocking asks you to set aside specific time to focus on a task or activity. For example, “I will work on a first draft of my blog post from 9 am to 11 am using a time blocking app tomorrow.”

When you schedule a dedicated batch of time to work on a single project or task, you bring all your resources to that one thing rather than spreading your attention across several jobs. The more you perform a single task, the more you build the mental muscles required for deep work, and the easier it becomes to stay focused./

What is the secret to time blocking?

Changing the way you work can be overwhelming. However, when you pick up on a new productivity method, such as time blocking, you will need all the tips to make the most of it.

As Abby Lawson writes in Forbes, “My day rarely goes exactly how I planned, but it does keep me on task, and a lot less likely to go down the Facebook rabbit hole or get distracted by something else because I know that if I take too much time on this task, it pushes the rest of my schedule back.

Here are some of our tips to help you make the most of your time blocks:

Set an “overflow day” to stop you from feeling overwhelmed. If you’re constantly falling behind on tasks, you’ll want to set aside an overflow day dedicated to catching up. Revise as needed. No one works well within a rigid system. Try to be as realistic as possible when you set your schedule but be prepared to move things around or throw it out for a day if a crisis unfolds.

Other than that, you can try these techniques:

time blocking - to increase your focus
time blocking – to increase your focus

Does Time Blocking Really Work?

As opposed to a major concern of why time blocking doesn’t work, let’s give you an example of how time blocking works. Let’s say John is a marketing manager in a digital advertising agency. He handles various responsibilities such as coordinating marketing campaigns, analyzing data, managing client accounts, and leading a team. John wants to implement time blocking to improve his productivity and effectively manage his workload.

John’s Time Blocking Schedule:

6:00 AM – 7:00 AM: Morning Routine

  • Wake up, stretch, and drink water
  • Meditate for 10 minutes
  • Exercise for 30 minutes
  • Shower and get ready for the day

7:00 AM – 8:30 AM: Deep Work Session

  • Focus on the most important task or project
  • Minimize distractions (turn off notifications, close unnecessary tabs)

8:30 AM – 9:00 AM: Breakfast and Break

  • Have a nutritious breakfast
  • Take a short break, relax, or read a book

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Administrative Tasks

  • Respond to emails and messages
  • Organize and prioritize tasks for the day
  • Complete paperwork or necessary documentation

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM: Meetings and Collaborations

  • Attend scheduled meetings
  • Collaborate with team members on projects or ideas

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM: Lunch Break

  • Enjoy a healthy meal
  • Take a short walk or engage in light physical activity

1:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Focus Work Session

  • Continue working on important tasks or projects
  • Break larger tasks into smaller, manageable chunks

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM: Review and Planning

  • Review progress made throughout the day
  • Plan tasks and priorities for the next day

4:00 PM – 6:00 PM: Personal Development and Learning

  • Read industry-related articles or books
  • Take online courses or watch educational videos

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM: Exercise and Recreation

  • Engage in physical exercise or sports activities
  • Spend time on hobbies or leisure activities

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Dinner and Family Time

  • Have dinner with family or loved ones
  • Engage in quality conversations or activities together

8:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Relaxation and Wind-Down

  • Unwind by watching a movie or TV show
  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing

10:00 PM – 6:00 AM: Sleep and Rest

Takeaway:

By implementing time blocking, you can prioritize his tasks, maintain focus, and ensure a balanced routine throughout the day. It provides structure and helps him make the most of his time, leading to increased productivity and a better work-life balance. Overall, you can implement time blocking to enhance your productivity, prioritize tasks, and create a structured routine that allows you to excel in your role while maintaining a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

Also, please read our last blog on habit stacking which is another way of improving your overall productivity.

References:

https://joebathelt.medium.com/time-blocking-for-academics-and-researchers-42bc71c213a5
https://medium.com/better-advice/how-to-save-10-20-hours-per-week-with-the-time-blocking-technique-56d0c7fe5c30
Cal Newport – Deep Work

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