Everyone has the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year. 8 hours’ work, 8 hours’ sleep and 8 hours’ relax a day is from where the concept of time blocking evolves. But if we truly analyse what we do in a day, many end up with a lot of pending work or not coping up with time in a day for the dedicated task. Therefore it is always essential to block a particular time in a day for a particular task.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a method of managing or blocking a particular time in a day for a specific task. Time blocking can be considered as an advancement of the to-do list. It helps us in scheduling a particular time for a particular work. In this busy world, it is difficult to accomplish all the work we plan to do in a day. But time blocking keeps us aware of what we do and where we lag. Thus, analysing the daily activity by time blocking helps us to rectify the lags and increase the productive time. The productive time in a day multiples if we keep track of the time we use for a specific task.
It will be harder to steal your time if we prepare a proper time blocking calendar which keeps you occupied all the time increasing productivity.
Why time blocking stands efficient and effective?
“Sometimes people ask why I bother with such a detailed level of planning. My answer is simple: it generates a massive amount of productivity. A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure” says ‘Cal Newport’ in his book ‘Author of Deep Work’.
- To avoid procrastination: Time blocking effectively helps us in overcoming the dreadful habit of procrastination. Even if there is a lot of work left pending, the lethargic mentality of the individuals leads to a delay in completing the work. Thus, an effective time blocking schedule helps us to disown the habit of procrastination.
- Promotes focused work: Time blocking helps us to focus on work deeply. All the tasks with the required importance are tabulated and scheduled properly. There is no need to worry or think about other important work as already a specific time has been allotted for it. It helps us to deeply concentrate and focus on a particular which is in process. The more we focus on one task, the easier it becomes. (Read: Deep Work Summary: 5 Key takeaways to help you be more productive)
- Increasing productivity: This is a chain reaction of ‘focused work’. While working without blocking time for tasks, it provokes thinking about the remaining important task which spoils the current one ending up with a bundle of work and non-completion. Time blocking helps us to concentrate and work deeply which helps us to complete the specified task sooner than before. This helps in increasing productivity.
- Analyse the time blocking calendar: Blocking time and working on the task is not sufficient to become efficient and effective. An analysing process should always be carried out in order to find out where we lag and address the same from the next time. A periodical analysis is always essential to overcome the mistakes we commit and become highly efficient which automatically increases productivity. It is necessary to ensure the analysing as a part of our daily time schedules.
- An organized way to complete tasks: Time blocking is nothing but completing a task by proper planning. Enabling us to deeply focus on a particular task at a particular time, time blocking helps us to increase productivity. Thus, the result of time blocking is much more effective than working in an unorganized or unplanned manner.
Recommended read: 8 Remote Work Habits Of Every Productive Employee
Where do we apply the concept of time blocking?
Time blocking can be used in office, house, exam, remote working and many other places. From the beginning of the day until we go to bed. Preparing a meal, spending time with family, daily endless meetings, scheduling calls, gym workouts, and whatnot. It helps us spending time peacefully, in a useful manner, and concentrating in every segment.
How to avoid time blocking missteps?
Time blocking is a process of allocating a particular time for a particular task. It is merely a way/style of following up tasks in an organized manner. But shifting to a new style to follow up is quite challenging in the beginning as we are new to it. That moment we fail to cope up in the beginning, it acts as such a demotivating factor to resume it again. So it is always essential to know the traps to dodge them.
Spoilers: This is the main and foremost factor that affects us. We plan out things properly, but there always exist these external factors to disrupt our plan. Our plan might get spoiled because of friends, family, office parties/get together, etc. which we can’t afford to miss. They pop up unexpectedly in the time for which we might have reserved for tasks. At that moment we should understand that the same work could be performed the next day as well and it is completely fine.
Even an Expert Cal Newport (author of Deep work) ensured to reallocate the same task in the next day’s calendar.
Cal Newport time blocking says “This type of planning to me is like a chess game, with blocks of work getting spread and sorted in such a way that projects big and small all seem to click into completion with (just enough) time to spare.”
Time allocation: Analysing the time required for a particular job is also an essential one. We should be able to project and allocate the right and the required time for a specific task. It might be quite difficult to make the exact projections for the beginners. But after a certain point of time, we eventually develop the habit of making time projections. This helps in optimising the time properly.
Leisure Time: Many people think staying productive all the time is the key to success. But do you know that Einstein’s most effective life hack wasn’t only about productivity? Spending time with others and also with you is an effective hack to keep you focussed during the work time. People tend to think about leisure time as optional. But to keep you mentally fit, it is always necessary to block your calendar for some leisure time, one of the main time blocking tips many fail to ensure!
Must read: How to achieve & maintain Work-life balance
There is no right time: There is nothing called a perfect time for any task. Schedule a flexible calendar that suits you. It isn’t necessary to stick to the traditional way of allocating hours. Like 9 am to 5 pm as the time for official work, 6 pm to 7 pm as the leisure time, etc. It should be in such a flexible way that it would make you feel even more interesting. Unless if work is bound to any authority, one should always feel free to customize the timings as per her/his preference.
How to prepare an effective Time Blocking Calendar?
Well, to prepare an effective time blocking calendar, it is essential to have a look over the Eisenhower Matrix.
Eisenhower matrix helps in the right way of prioritizing. We all have a lot of work to do in a day. Be it a student or a work professional, we can always witness that our to-do lists are always so big and never-ending. Doing the right work at the right time is a must and unaffordable if forgone. This is where the Eisenhower matrix comes in picture to rescue us to prioritize the tasks responsibly.
4 Quadrant: Eisenhower’s principle is represented in a 4 quadrant tabulation that helps us in a better understanding.
To use Eisenhower’s principle, it is necessary to list down all our tasks and should tabulate them under these 4 quadrants.
It is common to witness most of the people spending a hefty time on the 4th column – not important and not urgent.
But a rational decision would rank these as
- Important and Urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Not important but urgent
- Not important and not urgent
So additional care and time should be devoted to the above-mentioned order. This would help us in preparing daily time schedules.
Common myths of time blocking
Hinders Creativity: This is completely a myth. It enables us to focus on a particular task deeply and each task is given required importance which at the last helps in increasing productivity. Increasing productivity saves a lot of time which was wasted earlier.
Cal Newport time blocking also says. “Sometimes people ask if controlling time will stifle creativity. I understand this concern but it is fundamentally misguided. If you control your schedule: (1) you can ensure that you consistently dedicate time to the deep efforts that matter for creative pursuits, and (2) the stress relief that comes from this sense of organization allows you to go deeper in your creative blocks and produce more value”
Suggested read: How to work from home successfully?
Applicable only to office? Only 1/3rd of our daily schedule belongs to office work. We can block time for the remaining 16 hours in a day as to how we require it.
To complete more task from less time: Without knowing the exact time required to perform a task, many squeezes in more tasks in less time which makes it a quite difficult job for everyone to succeed. So it is always advisable to dedicate adequate time for a particular task for the beginners. Overestimating time for a task is one of the time blocking tips for the beginners.
What platform to use to time blocking?
There are 2 means to prepare our days’ plan. It can also be prepared using a pen and paper. But in this technological era, it is also good if we move ahead with time blocking apps. The play store is flooded with a lot of time blocking apps. Apps like to do list planner calendar & reminders, Time bloc, Time tune are prevalent in the play store. But the classic app I would recommend everyone to use is Google Calendar. As it is synched with the mails’ meeting appointments, we can also add our schedule for a day, by blocking time for a specific task.
Time blocking template
Initially, it is good to begin with a printout of a time blocking template broken down into 1-hour intervals from the time you wake up till you go to your bed. Keep one for planning and another as to what you did. This helps in analysing! The time blocking template can be customized later when one gets a hold over it.
- What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a method of managing or blocking a particular time in a day for a specific task. It helps us in scheduling a particular time for a particular work.
- Does time blocking increases productivity?
Yes, time blocking significantly increases the productivity. It makes us efficient, sorting out all the works and allocating the required time for every task. Which in turn helps us in completing the work soon as we focus deeply in one particular job at a time.
- What apps do I use for time blocking?
The play store is flooded with many time blocking apps like to do list planner calendar & reminders, Time bloc, Time tune, etc. But the classic one for time blocking is Google Calendar.
- How do I plan a day?
Planning a day should be based on an individual’s prioritization and urgency. Important and urgent job should be given preference in our planner list and not important and not urgent job should be given least importance.
- How long will it take to prepare a time blocking calendar for a day?
The time taken to prepare a time blocking calendar should be between 10 to 20 minutes in a day.
- Is it necessary to include leisure time in our time blocking calendar?
To keep us mentally fit, it is always essential to ensure some leisure time in our calendar.