How to time block
Now that you know the pros and cons of time blocking, let us look at some practical steps you can take to make it work for you:
1. Decide what's most important to you
Once you are clear on this question, you have laid the groundwork for all of your time blocking decisions.
Do you want to spend more time with your kids while maintaining a reasonable schedule? Do you want more freedom from emails and distracting meetings? Do you want to create work that is more meaningful and impactful?
The answers to these important questions will determine what appears on your time blocking calendar. And also the relative weight you give to scheduled appointments.
Once you know what's most important to you, the next step is to create your daily to-do list.
Make sure you include both personal and professional tasks. Group the tasks into the appropriate blocks of time, such as "meetings," "email," "family time," and other important projects.
Schedule mandatory tasks first. Any high priority task should be at the top of your to-do list.
You can also "split" your time blocks by first setting up personal blocks at the beginning and end of your workday. This way, you can ensure that you have time for personal commitments because you are limiting the length of your workday.
3. Practice stacking tasks
Task stacking is where you complete a number of similar tasks at once.
For example, you can do something as simple as putting bills in envelopes with task stacking.
A standard method would be to fold each invoice individually, then put it in an envelope and seal it. Then repeat the same process for the next invoice.
With task stacking, you can split up this larger task and do each smaller task separately.
Here is an example of blocking time using task stacking:
You might fold all 100 bills at once. Then pack them all in envelopes at once. And then seal all the envelopes at once.
Even switching between smaller tasks can take a lot of time. It's better to get into the rhythm of doing a repetitive activity.
Example of time blocking calendar on a whiteboard
The day theme is an advanced form of time blocking.
Not only do you group smaller tasks together, but you also create a specific theme for your entire day. This allows you to focus on larger areas of your business.
For example, if you are an executive, you might spend all of Monday on tasks related to sales and marketing. Then on Tuesday, you could focus on accounting and finance tasks.
If you are working on a larger project, you might set aside one day a week to work only on project-related tasks. And set aside your daily work for another day.
Timeboxing simply means setting aside a specific unit of time in your calendar for a future task.
If you have ever accepted an invitation to a meeting and Outlook automatically added it to your calendar, you have been timeboxing.
You can add more structure to your day by further placing necessary tasks in timeboxes.
Let us say you work in accounts payable. You may need to timebox your Wednesday and Friday mornings so you can focus on completing your vendor payment runs.
You may also need to take time at the end of each month to complete bank reconciliations.
One of the main benefits of time blocking is that it allows you to focus your energies on times when you are most productive.
Our biorhythms often determine our ability to perform well at a particular task. Some of us work best in the early morning, while others function better in the afternoon.
With Time Blocking, you can arrange your calendar to focus on important projects during your most productive times. When you are not feeling your best, you can block out time for more mundane, recurring tasks like email.
7. Anticipate unforeseen demands
Even the best schedule can go to pieces when faced with urgent demands and distractions of the moment.
How do you account for these important tasks when managing your time? It's actually quite simple.
Simply create a daily block for urgent tasks and use it to handle any unforeseen emails or last-minute important items.
When you block time in this way, you increase efficiency by protecting time and attention for more important tasks.
8. Use a time blocking calendar
If you find it difficult to create your own time blocking schedule, you can try using a calendar or planner specifically for time blocking.