Want to use time blocking to improvise your productivity? Here is a comprehensive guide on it. Read on!
Everyone has the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year. Our average day comprises 8 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep, and around 8 hours to relax. This is where the concept of time blocking emerges.
But if we truly analyze 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 tasks, additionally there are unforeseeable tasks that could take up the time we don’t plan for. Therefore it is always essential to block a particular time in a day for particular tasks.
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 are lacking. Thus, analyzing 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.
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Why is time blocking considered efficient & effective?
For us to understand this question, let us consider this quote “
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, Author, Cal Newport in his book ‘Deep Work’. As stated by Cal Newport, the simple answer is higher output and productivity. Let’s dive in further;
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Increasing productivity
This is a chain reaction of ‘focused work’. Working without blocking time for tasks, provokes thinking about the remaining important tasks, which in turn ruins the efficiency of the current one ending up with a pile of incomplete work and mounting tasks. 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.
4. Analyze the time blocking calendar
Blocking time and working on the task is not sufficient to become efficient and effective. A detailed analysis should be carried out in order to find out where we are lagging and address the same for the next time. A periodical analysis is always essential to overcome the mistakes we have committed, in order to become highly efficient which automatically increases productivity. It is necessary to ensure the analysis is a part of our daily time schedules.
5. An organized way to complete tasks
Time blocking is nothing but completing a task with 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.
Where do we apply the concept of time blocking?
Time blocking can be used in the office, at home, during exams, while working remote working and in many other places. From the beginning of the day until we go to bedtime blocking is an efficient tool to use.
With time blocking, we can coordinate our meetings better, finish tasks and even accommodate for leisure or hobbies. Having a calendar that is visible to everyone you interact with, will also ensure they schedule communication-based on common availability, thus leaving time for you, to focus on your tasks.
1. How to avoid time blocking missteps?
Time blocking is the 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. We may plan out things properly, but there will always exist external factors that could disrupt our plans. They pop up unexpectedly during the time reserved for certain tasks. At that moment we should understand that the same work could be performed the next day as well and it is completely fine.
Tip: The best and most efficient thing to do is to accomodate for disruptions by time blocking. Ensure you include breaks in your scehdule, that in case of disruptions could be efficiently utilised towards making up for lost time.
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.
2. Time allocation
Analyzing the time required for a particular job is essential. 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 optimizing our time properly.
3. 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 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!
4. There is no right time
There is no 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 work feel interesting and not like a burden. If work is bound to any authority, one should always try to customize the timings as per their preference. Even in a 9-5 schedule, you can effectively spread out your tasks based on your own work style.
For example, if you are highly productive in the first half of your day, but start to feel lethargic or see a downward curve of inefficiency in the latter half, schedule your important tasks for the first half and the rest for the second half of your day.
How to prepare an effective Time Blocking Calendar?
To prepare an effective time blocking calendar, it is essential to have a look over the Eisenhower Matrix. Eisenhower matrix helps us with prioritizing the right way. We all have a lot of work to do in a day whether you are a student or a working professional.
Our to-do lists seem never-ending. Doing the right work at the right time is a must to ensure productivity. This is where the Eisenhower matrix comes into the picture to help us to prioritize our tasks responsibly.
4 quadrants of Eisenhower
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
Following are the common myths found in time blocking,
1. Hinders Creativity
This is completely a myth. It enables us to focus on a particular task deeply and each task is given the required importance which at the last helps in increasing productivity. Increasing productivity saves a lot of time that was earlier wasted.
Cal Newport 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”
2. 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.
3. To complete more tasks from less time
Without knowing the exact time required to perform a task, we often squeeze in more tasks in lesser time which makes it quite difficult for one to succeed. It is always advisable to dedicate adequate time for a particular task for beginners.
Tip: Overestimating time for a task is one of the best time blocking tips for the beginners.
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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 recommended for 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. Additionally using a platform such as unremot would help, wherein you have your calendar and tasks as well as your team’s tasks.
You can work on your tasks and delegate tasks as well. Thus ensuring you stay on top of your productivity. Other features that are useful on Unremot are the virtual office where you can see your colleague’s availability and also set your own to ensure your time blocking techniques are visible and efficient even remotely.
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 analyzing! 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 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 planners calendar & reminders, Time bloc, Time tune, etc. But the classic one for time blocking is Google Calendar. You can also opt for platforms such as unremot that helps your whole team effectively plan their time and productivity on a single platform.
How do I plan a day?
Planning a day should be based on an individual’s prioritization and urgency. The important and urgent tasks should be given preference in our planner list and not important and not urgent tasks should be given lesser 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.
Kuntala is a versatile writer with a focus on diverse areas around work, productivity, collaboration at work, hiring, management, HR, and training. Her background of past experience in technology and consulting helps in molding razor-sharp insights into the research and user-focused content she creates. Professionally she is an IT consultant in a sales role and also a writer of short stories and poems, travel blogger, and fashion influencer.