“Time blocking”is praised by many productivity experts. Commonly the advice is 2 hour chunks of time, dedicated to a particular project, so you can move it forward. With many of us working from home, “chunking time” became more complex with home and work being done in the home for many people.
Many people say time blocking doesn’t work for them.
Why Doesn’t it Work? (And Next, How to Try it Again, but Differently)
“I can’t sit still for 2 hours without a break.”
“I had the block set aside and I used it for something else.”
“I had it set aside and blew right by it. I was too busy with day to day stuff that day.”
“I get so many interruptions; I could never find 2 hours of peace and quiet.”
“It’s too quiet.”
Experiment. Try it, but Differently. Here’s How.
#1 First, the block doesn’t have to be 2 hours solid. Commit to the 2 hours, and take breaks. Use your timer so you don’t overstay your breaks.
#2 Your block may not be 2 hours. It might be morning versus afternoon. It might be a theme for one day versus a theme for the next.
#3 You may need choices: if I don’t work on “this” for the block, then I (am committing to myself that I) will work on this other project. That gives you choices; choose two both important currently, and you’ll make progress, no matter what.
#4 Figure out how you’ll use your breaks ahead of time. What would make you feel refreshed again: 5 minutes outside? Yoga? Reading something different? Walking around the office/house? Write a list or put them on your calendar, so they pull you into the break.
#5 Look at the mindset and intensity required of your tasks. Now think about when your energy is best for these tasks. That’s your time block, matching what the project needs with your energy.
#6 Consider your reward after a block is done. Would it help to celebrate, especially at first? What would the celebration be? If celebrating doesn’t appeal, at least give yourself a “transition task” to clear your head and move onto the next task.
#7 How to write the calendar block title: Write specifically what you want to work on: project and tasks. Specificity will again “pull you in.” Instead of “work on abc project,” make it “Record 3 videos and upload to YouTube channel; follow checklist for marketing these; schedule/release.” What’s your goal or expected results for that session. Again, this pulls you in. And, you’ll start learning how much time you take on certain kinds of tasks and adjust.
#8 If you look at the calendar block and your mind says “Oh, never mind.” You can: (a) Stare at the purpose again and describe why this project is important to you. If you don’t work on this now, what happens ? (b) If you have a due date, write the date into the calendar entry, as a reminder of the end goal. (c) Choose a different project and swap the two time blocks instead. (d) Notice if you feel anything when you look at this project. Are you avoiding? Procrastinating? Not knowing where to start? Worried about judgment? Write about that to see if you can find the root cause.
Benefits. Why Bother Trying Again?
The point of time blocking is to give you focused time on something which requires a deep dive, some quiet time to focus and do your creative or analytical work with thoughtfulness, doing your best work.
Another benefit is that your day flows more easily. When you group, for example, all your home tasks for the day into one or more time blocks, then you’re using a similar skill (cooking vs. dusting vs. paying bills – 3 time blocks; 3+different skills). This makes things flow easily and efficiently for you. And it feels more like a flow than a rocky path. If you do not time block, and constantly switch from 10 minute task to another to another, you’re using different skills; your brain gets tired, more tired than it needs to be.
At the end of the day, with effective time blocking, you’ll be ready for intentional time with your family, yourself, your friends, your hobbies – whatever brings you joy. You get back personal time for your hobbies, instead of feeling so tired that you have no energy by the end of your day.
Effective. Efficient. Balanced work/home life. Project move forward easily. What benefits do you see?
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