You are quite busy and just don’t seem to have enough time? The tasks that you don’t have time for are the ones that matter to you the most? Then you are just like me! For a long time I have been looking for a way to structure my day and to find time for the things that are really important to me. Because of that I’ll test time blocking for the next month! If you want to know what time blocking is all about and why this method can potentially work for you, then read on!
Busy? Then I’ve summarized the most important information of this blogpost for you.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is about dividing a day into time blocks that are intended for a specific task in advance. Unlike a daily to-do list, you schedule the activities that need to be done at a specific point in time.
That’s why it is essential to prioritize your tasks in advance. This is the only way to ensure that you actually schedule the tasks that are important to you accordingly.
Time blocking vs. Time batching
Time batching is like the precursor of time blocking. It is about doing related tasks at once. For example, if you keep replying to messages throughout the day, time batching is about replying to all of your messages at once. That way you can fully focus on this task and work more efficiently because you don’t have to switch focus all the time.
Time blocking vs. Time boxing
Another similar concept is timeboxing. Essentially, these are 2 very similar approaches, but timeboxing goes one step further. Not only do you schedule a time period for a specific task, but you also set a specific, measurable goal for yourself.
For example, with time blocking you would schedule a coding block from 12:00-13:00, with timeboxing however, you would try to write 200 new lines of code during this time. Due to the time pressure you force yourself to work more efficiently in order to achieve your set goal. You practically challenge yourself.
An obvious advantage of time blocking is that you will be more focused. Because you know that all the tasks you need to do are scheduled, you can devote yourself fully to the task at hand.
In addition, you become much more aware of how you actually spend your time. Every new task that you take on has to be scheduled and potentially replaces other tasks that are important to you. Because of that it will be easier to turn down responsibilities or tasks you do not want to focus on.
By grouping similar tasks and scheduling them at a specific time, you can finish them more efficiently and save time. The time you saved can be devoted to other tasks.
Lastly, it’s a great way to work on your personal goals. Who can’t relate: You get home after a long day at work and are tired. However, if you have scheduled a block of time for a task that is important to you, you will find it difficult not to pursue this task. Specific plans tempt us to follow them.
A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.Cal Newport, Deep Work
How to start?
The most reasonable approach is to plan your week in advance. You should think about which tasks you need or want to do in the coming week at first. Afterwards you need to prioritize this list of tasks.
Then you should start by scheduling fixed or repetitive tasks. This includes dinner with your family, your morning routine or your weekly training.
The next step is to schedule the tasks in your list of tasks for the week. You should start with the tasks that have the highest priority for you. If some of the tasks with a low priority do not fit into your schedule, you will have to discard them (for now).
When scheduling tasks, you should consider your daily rhythm. For example, if you are most productive early in the morning, schedule appropriate tasks. In the evening, when you are low on energy, you can tackle less energy-consuming tasks. If you are a night owl, you should do the opposite. You know yourself best and should adapt your schedule accordingly.
At the beginning it will be difficult to estimate the time it will take to complete a certain task. That’s why you should be generous with your time boxes and leave some leeway, especially at the beginning. Also schedule time blocks for the transitions between different tasks and unknown/unexpected events. You will realize that you can’t always switch to another task “immediately”.
You are now familiar with the concept of time blocking. If you are interested, join me for the next month and try to structure your weeks accordingly. Otherwise you can read my conclusion on this in 4 weeks!