Ever feel like there isn’t enough time in your work day to get everything done? From phone calls to blog posts and just getting your Google calendar in order, your day can suddenly be zapped before you’ve even gotten a handle on your most important work.
Time blocking is a time management technique that could boost your productivity and help you power through your priority tasks — and it has been used by some of business and innovation’s greatest, like Elon Musk and Bill Gates, to great success. Let’s take a walk and see how time-blocked work can help you make the most of any amount of time.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a scheduling format that helps boost productivity by dividing your day into specific blocks of time.
Using this approach, each block represents the time dedicated to completing a specific task or tasks. This cousin of the Pomodoro Method often adds clarity, intention, and important boundaries to the workday.
Instead of taking the defensive approach to work, in which you’re constantly fielding tasks, emails, and requests as they crop up throughout the day, the time blocking approach to scheduling creates a more deliberate and regimented structure for the workday — so you can get into the flow and deep work with minimal distractions.
Does time blocking really work?
Time blocking helps you protect two extremely precious resources —your time and your focus.
When distractions and incoming emails start to be the source of direction for your workday, productivity goes down the drain. Experts in productivity like Cal Newport echo this thought:
“Using your inbox to drive your daily schedule might be fine for the entry-level or those content with a career of cubicle-dwelling mediocrity, but the best knowledge workers view their time like the best investors view their capital, as a resource to wield for maximum returns.”
Adopting time blocking stop is the first step to conquering the tangents that ruin your concentration, and start calling the shots around what type of work you do and when. In addition, when you track time spent on important tasks, you can better predict how much time will be needed for future tasks and projects.
Advantages of time blocking
Helps establish flow
Flow is your fluid work state where you’re focused and working at maximum efficiency. Time blocking helps you achieve a flow state by allowing you to dedicate parts of your day to very specific types of work (and nothing else).
Because time blocking is the opposite of multitasking, it allows for concentration on a single task. This means you have more mental bandwidth to devote to what you’re working on–which is good news, as lack of distraction can boost attention to detail and produces fewer errors.
Creates a sense of control
When we feel more control over what we’re doing and when it helps reduce stress and anxiety. In the short-term, time blocking allows you to gain more control over the day rather than just “winging it.” In the long-term, it allows for more effective planning and decision-making.
How to use time blocking: a step-by-step guide
So we know that time blocking offers up some serious perks. But how do you go about doing it?
Step 1: Identify the tasks that need to be accomplished
The first step is to ask yourself: What are the repetitive tasks you perform every week? Make a list of those and from there, prioritize them based on importance.
Step 2: Estimate how many hours each task should take
Next, put together a rough estimate of how much time you spend doing what. Be sure to account for how much time is normally wasted (and cut that number out.) You don’t have to have these figured down to the minute–just put together a rough idea to start with and fine-tune from there. You can use columns on monday.com for just that — both to enter estimations and also to track in real-time a task’s duration.
Step 3: Decide how much flexible time you allot in your schedule
It’s important to leave time for miscellaneous tasks and those little surprises that scream I-gotta-take-care-of-this-right-now. Your flexible time could be for unplanned tasks and/or meetings that pop up, a doctor’s appointment, etc.
As you think this over, consider the type of organization you work in and what the standard is for meetings: Do people usually schedule in advance? Are you expected to have some sort of availability?
Step 4: Review your plan
With an almost complete time-blocking plan in place, it’s time to calculate the number of hours listed and the time you left for unexpected meetings. Ask yourself: Does it exceed your working hours? Either way, make adjustments accordingly.
Review isn’t a one-and-done process, either. Let your time-blocked schedule evolve over time. If your work changes with the season or time of year, keep in mind you may need to do monthly or quarterly reviews of your process.
Step 5: Implement time blocking using your favorite calendar app
You could use a calendar app like Calendly, Appoint.ly, Plan, HourStack, or even just the calendar app on your phone to document your time-blocked schedule. monday.com integrates with Gmail and Outlook to make this simple, and you can create team calendars on the platform.
By assigning specific time slots when people can schedule appointments with you, you get control over your schedule and save a lot of time to do other tasks. If you find you have trouble sticking to your allotted time slots, consider setting daily alerts or alarms to ensure you say on task–and as always, adjust as needed.
Get more productive with time blocking
Time blocking isn’t for everyone, but it is helpful if you need more structure and deliberate focus built into your workdays.
By following the steps outlined here, you can be sure you’ve developed a smart, realistic plan that works toward a more efficient and effective workday–and you might just discover the secret to your optimal, most productive workday. Create your own time blocking system on monday.com today.