There are so many wonderful ways to begin a productive and organized New Year. One of my favorite suggestions is to use a time management method called “time blocking” to create focused, productive chunks of time in which to get things done. The concept of time blocking is based on Parkinson’s Law, which is the idea that work will simply expand to fill the time available for its completion.
So in the name of organization and bettering my time management skills, I am going to time block myself and report back, minute-by-minute, on how it goes. I will share my knowledge as I go, along with areas where I see room for personal improvement. Enjoy!
Day Before Experiment
I like to review my calendar every evening, and plan for the next day. This helps clarify my schedule and goals. I find this extremely helpful for my own daily organization, and is probably the number one thing that keeps me on track.
So I’ve just reviewed my time blocking plan for tomorrow. I scheduled it in my calendar from 8:30 – 9:30 am, since my most focused time is in the morning.
It’s important to be clear about this time management goal, so I’ve written exactly what I plan to do for tomorrow. My goal is to spend a solid hour doing blog writing. The description says “focused blog-writing time block”.
I read that giving yourself a “reward” for managing time in this way can be motivating. I’ve decided that I’ll reward myself with chocolate (arguably a girl’s best friend).
Day Of Experiment
8:00. Arrive at “office”. I work from home, so this was easy to do. I made sure to be dressed and ready to go by eight, and pretended that it was a real office instead of my couch.
8:20. Getting Settled In. My time block is scheduled from 8:30 – 9:30. I read that really well organized time management requires a “buffer” window beforehand in order to get settled in. So far, so good. I’ve checked my email, gotten a quick social media scroll in, and grabbed my cup of coffee.
8:30. Get Focused. My phone is switched off, and notifications on my computer are also off. I have also set a timer for one hour. Many people use a pomodoro timer for this. You can read all about the pomodoro method here: Pomodoro Technique. You should avoid using your phone since it adds a possible layer of distraction. Let’s do this!
8:40. Learning Curve! Ok, spent the last ten minutes humming and hawing about what to write my blog about. It would have been better to decide that ahead of time, and add it to my time block description in my calendar. I did read that it is super important to be very specific, and I could have definitely been more clear about my goal.
9:10. Super Focused. Wow, just got 30 solid minutes of writing done! This is going well. However, I forgot to bring water into my office. Just went and grabbed some. Lost a minute and then got distracted by the cat, who demanded cuddles. Onward!
9:20. Manage distractions. Even though my phone is off, I can still see it. I just gave in to temptation and answered it when my husband called. I justified this choice as a “what if it’s an emergency” situation, but of course it wasn’t. Want to know why he called? You won’t believe it. He wanted to know how my time management experiment was going.
9:30. Second Wind. My timer just went off! I am still going strong, so I’m going to ignore it and keep working.
10:00. Wrap up and Review. Well, I’d say that was a success! I went 30 minutes beyond my set time, and wrote two blogs – exceeding my goal. I’ve decided to jot down some pointers for next time. These are based on my personal experience, and I’m writing them for myself. Yours might look different, which is totally ok!
Here’s What I Learned From This Time Management Exercise
- Be even more specific about what I’m going to do. I started off feeling a little weak about my goal, since I only wrote “blog writing” and not WHAT I was going to write about!
- Find someone who wants to time block with me. I’ve heard that having an accountability partner can be very helpful for this activity, and I’d like to try that for next time.
- Schedule time blocking for a morning when I have more time. I felt like I could have gone even longer, since I was able to get in the “zone” without distractions. However, I have an appointment to get to, so I had to stop. That was kind of a bummer.
- Bring water and snacks. Especially for a longer time block, this would have been handy. Also attempt to cuddle all furry household animals prior to said scheduled block.
- No reward needed. In the end, I was so thrilled with my focused work time that I didn’t feel the need for a reward. I do feel like that could work for some people to get them started though.
I feel proud of myself for having done this time management experiment and I definitely will continue to suggest it to my clients as a great way to create focused, productive work time for themselves.