If you’ve been out driving, you’ve probably seen those orange cones and barricades on the road. Even though it’s inconvenient for drivers, those barricades keep traffic from areas that are being worked on—so that workers can do the repairs without dodging cars.
Don’t you wish during the day you could set up barricades around your time so you could focus on just completing a task without having to dodge interruptions?
Well now you can—with something called Time Blocking.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is the art of intentionally planning your day as a series of time blocks—periods of time devoted to accomplishing just one thing. When you time block, you are simply making an appointment with yourself in order to complete a specific task.
Start by choosing your highest priority task, drag it to your calendar, and block out the time you need to complete it. And then the next task—and so on. Adding a time block to your calendar not only helps you organize your time more effectively it also improves focus.
It’s like building a barricade around a specific task and not allowing other tasks or activities to interfere. Don’t let your cell phone distract you—put it away—and let coworkers know that you be checking email or your phone after you’ve completed your block of time.
Time blocking moves you beyond a task list
Making a list of all the things you need and want to accomplish is an essential starting point—but it’s just that: the starting point. Time blocking is how you move an item from your do-to list and place it on your calendar in order to accomplish it on a specific day at a specific time.
Then, for that time, your build a ‘fence’ around that task so that other less-important things don’t interfere or distract.
Time blocking is more than simply hoping and wishing for time to be available to work on a project. Hoping and wishing aren’t going to cut it anymore—you must schedule it!
How you choose to use your time is what separates you. By scheduling the stuff that matters, you’ll be spending those hours far more wisely. In addition, you’ll be living your days proactively rather than reactively.
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How to schedule your time blocks
At the beginning of your week (perhaps on Sunday) sit down and deliberately and specifically define your week. Enter each task and time block out the time that you’ll commit to that task on your calendar. In fact, PlanPlus Online takes you step-by-step through that process.
Let others know
If you work closely with other people, let them know (politely) that you’ll be head down in some significant work during your time block, and you’ll be checking your email or phone after you’ve completed your block of time.
Turn off your phone and other devices
I know, blasphemy! But your cell phone will rob you of your productivity. Turn it off, put it away, along with anything else that will distract you from your time.
Time blocking: it isn’t just for work anymore
Scheduling blocks of time doesn’t have to involve just work-related stuff. Block out time for relationships, volunteer opportunities, reading and studying. The things that matter most to you need to be scheduled—no matter what.
Where you do it matters
Time blocking itself is useless if you have to work in a distracted environment. The location is crucial if you want to get your work done. In an office environment, this could be a conference room. You might work best in the park, a coffee shop, the library—if so, then choose that place as your location.
When you time block for yourself and hold to it fiercely, two amazing things happen:
- You get your most important task accomplished quicker, more thoroughly, and with more enjoyment
- Surprisingly, you’re able to handle all those other tasks in your life.