Ever feel like there isn’t enough time in your work day to get everything done? From phone calls to meetings to 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 task. 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.
Types of time blocking
There are different ways to use time blocking to streamline your work day:
- Traditional time blocking: Dividing your day into specific time blocks, each dedicated to a particular task or activity. You plan out your schedule in advance and then allocate fixed time slots for the different tasks on your to-do list.
- Pomodoro technique: A modification of traditional time blocking, where you work in short, focused intervals (usually 25 minutes) followed by a brief break. After completing a set number of intervals (usually four) you then take a longer break.
- Time theming: Assigning specific themes or categories to different blocks of time. For example, you might decide that mornings are for creative work, afternoons for meetings, and evenings for learning.
- Energy management time blocking: Planning your day based on your energy levels. If you’re an early bird, for example, you’d schedule your most demanding tasks in the morning, and then spend your afternoons working on less intense tasks.
- Batching Time Blocking: Grouping similar tasks together and then dedicating specific time blocks to complete them all at once. For example, you might decide to knock out all your emails in one hour every morning and another hour at the end of the work day.
Of course, you can also combine these techniques to create a time blocking strategy that works best for you.
Why does time blocking work?
Time blocking helps you protect two extremely precious resources —your time and your focus.
To quote productivity author Cal Newport:
“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.”
The time blocking method works because it encourages you to think mindfully about your time and work to optimize how you use your working hours. It drives you to focus exclusively on one task at a time, reducing multi-tasking and context-switching.
Advantages of the time blocking method
That’s not the only advantage of time blocking, of course. Some of the other major benefits of taking this strategic approach to your schedule include:
- Promoting a flow state – Flow is a mental 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).
- Minimizing distraction – 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.
- Creating a sense of control – 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.
Did you know you can use monday.com to set up your time-blocked work calendar? Try it out for free today.
How to use time blocking with monday.com: a step-by-step guide
A work management software like monday.com is a great way to establish a streamlined time blocking technique, by allowing you to visualize your schedule. Here’s an example made by our team:
Looks handy, right? But how do you get that set up?
Step 1: Identify the tasks that need to be accomplished
Start by listing out the repetitive tasks you perform every week. If you look at the image above, we’ve grouped our tasks together into activities, such as admin, website tasks, marketing, copywriting, training, and so on.
Step 2: Break your day up into time blocks
Think through your typical work day and break it up into shorter time blocks. Don’t forget to add in time for breaks.
In our example, we’ve created variable time slot — an hour first thing, and then three 2-hour time slots. Your mileage may vary! You might want to think about when you have the most energy, or when you have external commitments you can’t move (such as regular team meetings on Friday afternoons).
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.
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.
Why use monday.com for time blocking?
monday.com is a great option for time blockers. Our no-code, customizable dashboards make it easy to set up a visual guide to your work schedule, so you’ll never miss another deadline with features like:
Automated calendar updates
One of the best things about using monday.com for time blocking is that we offer easy-to-use automations to make your time-blocking process seamless. For instance, if you’re using Google Calendar or Outlook, you can automatically convert your monday.com tasks into time-blocked events on your calendar so you never overschedule yourself again.
Time tracking log
Not sure how long each task takes you? Use our Time Tracking Widget to find out. Whenever you start a task, simply click on “Play” to start the timer. You can pause it anytime and start it again. Then use your new insights into how long things really take to update your time blocks. You can also export the information to Excel for future reference.
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 with monday.com today.
Does time blocking work?
Short answer - yes, research suggests that time blocking can be a great way to increase focus and productivity. Time blocking is the process of breaking your schedule down into individual blocks of time (for instance, 2 hour blocks). You then use each block of time to focus on a specific activity or type of work. This process means that you always know what you should be working on, making it easier to focus and get through your tasks.
How can I get started with time blocking?
To start using the time blocking method, start by outlining your day or week ahead. Then break each day down into chunks of time. You might want to start with one hour blocks, with short breaks in between each block of time. Then, take a look at your to do list. Assign each task to a specific block on the schedule. During each time block, work only on the assigned task, and try to minimize distractions.
How can I time block effectively?
To time block your schedule more effectively, start by setting clear goals for your day (or your week). Break your day into focused time blocks, assigning specific tasks or activities to each block. During these blocks, you should aim to avoid distractions, and just work on the task assigned to that block.Regularly review and adjust your schedule to ensure you're meeting your goals and optimizing your productivity.