I used to find myself struggling to focus throughout the day. Now I have started practicing this awesome technique and my productivity has skyrocketed. I feel so much more accomplished at the end of the day. What is this incredible strategy?
It’s called time blocking.
What Is Time Blocking?
Time blocking is when you schedule tasks from your to-do list to be done at specific times during the day.
When I first discovered time blocking, I thought it would be really limiting. After I tried it, however, I found that it really allows me to focus on the task at hand.
I grudgingly admit that I am not a master of multi-tasking and really and truly, many of us aren’t. After I start a project, I often find myself starting another when I have gotten halfway through the first one. At the end of the day, nothing is complete and I feel miserable because I haven’t really accomplished anything. Time blocking allows me to concentrate on one task and know that I have time to complete my to-do list.
So How Do I Time Block?
I spend 15-20 minutes planning my day, usually the evening before but you can incorporate it into your morning routine, if you prefer. Then, I can simply get to work and not waste time skipping from one task to the next or wondering “What should I do now?” I also don’t get distracted by social media etc. as easily because I know I only have a specific period of time to get one task done.
Typically, I use Google Calendar for this process. It’s free and simple to use. One thing to remember when time blocking is not to squeeze too much into one day. I pick 3-5 tasks that I feel I can get done and I start with my most important task, even if it’s one I don’t really want to do.
Below is an example of a day in my Google Calendar:
Honesty Helps The Process
Be honest with yourself about how long it takes you to complete something. Sometimes it takes me longer than I expect to get that first task done but I still feel pleased with myself because it was the top priority on my list. See time blocking isn’t just about cracking the proverbial whip. It’s about motivation and working towards a goal. The point is that I had a target and that helps to keep me productive. Anything that I don’t get done in one day goes on tomorrow’s list. Obviously, I don’t slack off and have the attitude that “I can just do it tomorrow” but life happens and things don’t always go the way I planned.
Schedule your work at times when you know you concentrate best. I like to put tasks that don’t require deep thought and concentration in the afternoon when I don’t feel like pushing myself too much. This is when I tend to design my social media graphics or check and respond to emails.
You don’t want to be surrounded by distractions when you are trying to focus on work. Eliminate them as much as you can.
Don’t Be Too Specific
When I add tasks to my calendar, I make sure that I leave them vague enough so I can have some flexibility. For instance, I may have the task “Write blog post” on my schedule but I don’t state what the blog post should be about. That way, I can decide to write about whatever interests me at that time. I usually have a list of topics to choose from so I don’t spend time trying to brainstorm one.
Google Calendar allows you to set reminders at various time intervals before a task is due to begin. This is a useful feature as it can help you to know how much time you have left before completing the task you are currently working on.
Timers can be helpful
I hate having to constantly check the clock especially if I’m working on a project for a few hours. Sometimes I find it useful to set a timer when I begin working so that it notifies me when my time is up. If you search “timer” in Google, one shows up right at the top of the page. You can set it for however long you would like.
If you want to know the amount of time to assign to a task in the future, use the stop watch feature. This is an easy way to get an idea of how long you take to complete certain things.
Make time in your schedule for breaks. You need to eat in order to stay focused. Include a set time for lunch and maybe a couple 15 minute intervals for stretching, snacks or whatever. Don’t take too many breaks though!
Time blocking has allowed me to be more focused, organized and has taken the stress out of accomplishing everything on my to-do list. You really need to give it a try to see how it works for you.