A month ago I started planning my week in advance using the time blocking method. My goal was to finish all of my tasks efficiently and to have time for tasks that are important to me. How I liked the method and whether I will continue to use it? Read on if you want to find out!
If you haven’t read the first blogpost about this topic yet and you don’t know time blocking, you should definitely read it: Time blocking.
Busy? Then I’ve summarized the most important information of this blogpost for you.
Time blocking is an extremely versatile and useful concept. Strict use of this method may not be the right approach for everyone though. Nevertheless, I think most of us could benefit from a little time blocking in our lives.
With this method you create a schedule for the following week. Once something is fixed and written down, most of us find it difficult to deviate from this plan. The overview of what needs to be done in your week and which tasks couldn’t fit into your schedule is awesome. That way, I managed to fit tasks that I’d have neglected otherwise into my week.
I was well aware that you should rather schedule too much than too little time for your tasks at the beginning. Nevertheless, I still underestimated the time needed to complete my tasks. Especially when it came to transitions between tasks, I was too optimistic and the time scheduled was often insufficient. After all, humans are not machines and they also need some time to switch between tasks.
After the first week I scheduled a more generous amount of time to transition between different tasks (actually I just didn’t plan anything here). That way, it was much easier for me to stick to my schedule.
In addition, you should always keep in mind that your schedule is only a guideline. Nothing is set in stone and it’s reasonable to be flexible in your scheduling. For example, it is still possible to schedule a spontaneous meeting with a friend, you just need to replace another task.
My last advice is to be generous with scheduling your leisure time. Nobody likes to have a deadline when they are working out or meeting friends. Because of that I have always scheduled these events until the end of the day. As these usually take place in the evening anyway, this approach fit into my schedule very well. That way I still have a certain structure throughout my day, but can devote myself to such activities without being stressed.
Advantages of time blocking?
I have already listed the advantages of time blocking in detail in my last blogpost on this topic. However, one advantage of this method struck me particularly strongly, which is why I would like to mention it again.
With a schedule that detailed, you really become aware of how you actually spend your time. You have to prioritize your tasks in advance won’t be able to accommodate all of the tasks in your week. Scheduled tasks are usually those things that are really important to you (or that simply HAVE to be done).
Agreeing to a meeting or pursuing a new private project thus has much more weight, as it replaces other tasks that are important to you. The result should be that you only pursue activities that are really important to you! Additionally, this also creates an awareness of what is important to you and what you really want to focus on. This insight, which may not sound exciting, is of great value though!
Disadvantages of time blocking?
There are a lot of advantages to time blocking, but there are some disadvantages that you should know about.
Scheduling your week in advance takes time. The effort is greater than just scheduling a few tasks and, especially at the beginning, you will certainly need some time to structure your week in advance.
Most of us are poor at estimating how long it takes to get a task done. We are usually very optimistic when it comes to estimating how much we can get done in a day (in psychology this is called planning fallacy). As a result, you may find yourself lagging behind your schedule, which can be frustrating in the long run.
In addition, constant interruptions and unexpected tasks can mess up your schedule. Once you’re behind, you can rarely make up for time “lost”.
Because of that it can be difficult to work with time blocking, especially in your professional work environment. In most professions, flexibility is key and constant interruptions are commonplace. You have to decide for yourself whether you can use time blocking in your professional environment.
I used time blocking primarily for private purposes and I am extremely happy with my schedule over the past month. After getting a feel for how much time I actually need for different tasks during the first week and also scheduling longer blocks of time between different tasks, it was great!
I often adjusted my schedule at short notice and therefore did not think that the system was inflexible or restrictive at all. In addition, I finally managed to focus on some tasks that have been important to me for a long time! I will definitely continue to use time blocking and structure my weeks in advance!