With all that our fast-paced lives entail, it is easy to get overwhelmed by a truckload of tasks, some unnecessary. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your valuable time by adopting more effective scheduling habits. Time blocking is simple to do and can boost your productivity by as much as 150 percent.
What are the Benefits of Time Blocking?
By scheduling a set number of hours to work on one task, you can focus on that single project and block off the others, and any other demands during that period.
If you usually spend a good chunk of time throughout each day answering phone calls, emails, and text messages, instead schedule a specific timeframe to complete these tasks every day. Post specific hours that you are available in your email signature and state it in your voicemail greeting. Co-workers and clients will appreciate this courteous gesture. Clear communication is always well received because no one has time to waste.
Clock Time and Event Time
Truth be told, most of us work according to the company schedule, anxiously waiting for the 5 p.m. cutoff. Whether the daily tasks are completed or not, when the shift ends so does the work. Keep in mind, you may be able to make the best progress after 5 when most of your colleagues have left for the day. You will have fewer distractions if any.
Instead of scheduling tasks to complete at the end of each workday, or extending it to the next day, stop living by the clock and set goals to be met now. Leave for the day when you are finished, don’t stop while your ideas are still flowing. You will not only increase daily productivity, you will impress your boss and colleagues with your dedication. Finishing what you start can also help manage your stress level.
Planning Time and Execution Time
Boost productivity by scheduling blocks to balance planning and work time. You could set one day aside each year for annual, long-term planning. Early every month, you can schedule one hour for project goal-setting. At the beginning of every week, use one hour to break your projects up into daily scheduled time blocks.
How Should Time Blocks Be Prioritized?
Simply schedule the more time-sensitive and most important work ahead of the rest.
If you plan to craft an annual time blocking schedule, think about which task(s) will make all your other worker easier, or obsolete, once completed. Make that project a priority, at the beginning of every work day.
Get the most important work done early in the day. Later, when your energy level may be dwindling, start checking off less pressing tasks. Unless, of course, you are not a morning person. In that case, plan your most vital tasks according to when you feel best during the day. Also, implement this method for essential daily and monthly tasks.
Should I Schedule My Time Off?
Long weekends, extended vacations, long weekends and weekday getaways should all be scheduled time blocks in your annual plan. By scheduling comp time well in advance, you will always have something to look forward to, your breaks are well-earned. If you plan, you can schedule work tasks around your free time.
If you don’t schedule in advance, you may not be able to take time off at the last minute. The opportunity to break free may never arise. Alert your boss, clients, and co-workers ahead of time to avoid any conflicts or friction.
You have worked hard and earned scheduled time off. Don’t be apologetic about adding such time blocks to your yearly plan. Let your colleagues know that you care about their needs and workloads and will be back to help at the end of your vacation time block.
How to Avoid Planning an Overwhelming Block Schedule
It is common for so many of us to get distracted by low-priority tasks during peak hours because the important work is so daunting. For time blocking to be successful, you must learn to stop beating yourself up. Most people lose focus now and again.
You can take charge of this problem by recognizing when you are actively avoiding an essential task. Don’t waste energy giving in to feelings of defeat. This will trigger symptoms of stress. Instead, give yourself choices so you don’t feel so trapped by specific projects that feel too big.
Section overwhelming tasks into smaller portions, such as, “grow my clientele” into something like, “build a list of 10 leads” and gather contact information from lead websites. Make daily tasks more manageable and start each day feeling like you can conquer the world.
I Don’t Have Time to Make a Block Scheduling Plan
If you took the time to read this blog, you may be seeking some scheduling assistance. But, you may need to catch up on a lot of backlogs before you can put together a successful time blocking plan. The following simple steps will help you get on the road to a more organized work life:
- Stay in the moment and focus: Take a few deep breaths and stop moving in circles. Realize that you are all over the place, working on bits and pieces, and finishing nothing.
- Slow down: You do have time to complete each task thoroughly and well. Productivity comes with focusing and completing one task at a time. There really is enough time in a day. Anytime you start to feel anxious, slow down and release some stress. You will be more efficient in the end.
- Complete one thing: Something, anything, just complete one task without stopping and working on another project. Enjoy the sense of accomplishment, and relief, that comes with finishing something being able to check it off your list. It can be a small task. Once completed, move on to the next small task and keep this process going. Repeat a few times until you feel comfortable and then move on to your most important job and dive right in.