Time blocking is a strategy that has been widely accepted to help increase focus and productivity in the office. The approach is simple: block out chunks of time each day and assign that blocked time to given tasks, eliminating all distractions during the scheduled time.
For example, you might time block working on email for one hour. Or dedicate your time block session to making necessary phone calls. The idea is that by batching these activities, we commit continuous, focused brain power to one activity, eliminating the immense lag time that occurs when we become distracted.
- Schedule your time blocks in advance. When you go to schedule a ‘block’ in your calendar, be very specific about what you will do during that time. Add the topic that you will be covering. For instance, instead of writing “time blocking”, write “Time block social media posting”. We recommend blocking at least 30-60 minutes at a time to start.
- When you are choosing a task, focus on those items that, once tackled, will make everything else you have to do easier, or cut out unnecessary work. For example, if you need to make client phone calls, check email, and work on today’s “to do” file, starting with the ‘to do’ file may affect how you respond to client calls or emails later on in the day.
- Don’t start stressed. When scheduling time blocking sessions, be sure to give yourself a good half hour to an hour to get settled. For example, if you know you will arrive at the office at 7:30, schedule the block for 8:00. This will give you a half hour to check email, review your to-do list and grab a cup of coffee.
- Eliminate distractions. If possible, switch off your phone, close open tabs on your computer and eliminate any other distractions from your workplace such as music or gadgets. If you work in an office, close the blinds or hang a sign on the door letting people know that you are not interruptible.
- Set a timer. A timer is a great tool and will help you to stay focused! We love the time timer, which you can find here.
- Set realistic goals. Don’t assume it will take 30 minutes to do a task that will actually take an hour. Over time, the practice of time blocking will help you to become more skilled at predicting how long it actually takes to do certain tasks.
- Find an accountability buddy. A coworker or friend is a good person to hold you accountable for a check-in call after your time blocking is complete to report how you did.
- Block in ‘break’ time into your day as well if it helps you to get back on task after a break should be over.
Time blocking is ultimately about getting yourself into that super-focused, task-driven state of mind that results in high productivity work. When done successfully, people are able to do an incredible amount of work in a short period of time. Even if you include only one time block into your day (mornings are usually the most productive time of day), you will be setting yourself up for success throughout the rest of the workday.
Let us know how this worked for you – we learn from you just as you learn from us!