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  • Joanne Butcher

USING TIME BLOCKING TO INCREASE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY



This post is about one of my favourite productivity hacks, which is time blocking.

What is time blocking?


Time blocking is a method that I use to take tasks from my task list and block out time for them on my calendar. I use my task list and my calendar in conjunction with one another to plan what I need to do each week.


By why do I need to put the tasks on my calendar? Why don’t I just use my task list?


Read on to find out the benefits of blocking out your time.


The benefits of time blocking


Time blocking improves time management


Firstly, time blocking forces you to think about how long you actually need to complete a task. If you just work inside of a task list, it's very easy to keep adding tasks to a daily list, which then becomes overwhelming.



When you go through the process of taking those tasks and actually assigning time to them on your calendar, it forces you to think about how long do you need to complete that task.


For example, say I had ‘write a blog’ on my to-do list. I know I need to allow about 90 minutes to get the blog written. Rather than just seeing the task in my to-do list and hoping that I can squeeze it into my day, I block out the time needed to complete the task in my calendar.


Time blocking helps to prioritise


Another benefit of time blocking is that it forces you to prioritise and shuffle things around based on how important different tasks are.


Say that I have 10 things on my task list that I want to do today. However, once I’ve blocked out the respective time for 5 of those tasks in my calendar, I realise that my day is now full. I will then need to make some decisions about what on that list is a priority, and what can be moved to another day.


No more procrastination!


Time blocking helps with procrastination as well. Again, if you just have a task list, especially if you have a lot of items on that task list, you may feel overwhelmed and intimidated by all of that work.


When you actually turn those tasks into a plan by deciding when you're going to do them and how long they're going to take, it's much harder to procrastinate. Now you've actually got a plan of attack.

How to get started with time blocking


I recommend assigning 15 minutes or so at the end of your week to think about what you have coming up for the following week, and then allocating some time on your calendar for those things.



I think it helps if you use a to-do list application, such as Asana or Trello, or at least have somewhere you can refer to which will make it easy for you to see what needs to get done.


To begin with, you may want to start blocking out time for different types of work or projects, rather than specific tasks.


This can be a good way to introduce yourself to time blocking, just blocking out time for the project or areas of work that you need to focus on.


For example, you could block out time each day to deal with any emails. Or to create content. You could even block out time according to your individual clients.


Allocate more time than necessary


I like to allocate more time than I think I need. It’s a really useful way to make sure you don't get caught short and have to somehow find more time later.


In some cases, you might not have enough time to do the entire task in one day. That's fine. By planning ahead you can allocate more time across the week to complete each task.


By blocking out time in your calendar, you are making sure you are allowing enough time to complete projects by their deadline.


Don’t forget to include breaks


Be careful about blocking out time for tasks back to back. Insert little 15 minute slots of time between tasks to make sure you’re not scheduling six hours of work without having a break.


You could also set up some recurring appointments every single day, such as going for a walk or having lunch. You can include any recurring appointments for any social events or tasks that you know you have to do every week. Which is a great way of building a really good routine and being consistent with your schedule.


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So there you have it - my introduction to time blocking.


As I have already said, this is one of my favourite productivity hacks and has definitely helped me work more efficiently.


If you found this useful and would like more tips about time management then take a look at my blog post Tips On Managing Time When Running A Small Business.


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