Time-Blocking: Next Level Daily Planning for Personal Productivity
Ever felt like your schedule is taking control of you instead of the other way around?
In a modern workplace, the endless stream of tasks can easily overwhelm you, yes, the person with a planned-out day, armed with state-of-the-art calendar tools and to-do lists.
Of course, it’s easy to attributes the elasticity of planned activities to the likes of team meetings, scouring through your half-full inbox, and team chats. However, we can’t just overcompensate and shut ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of the modern workplace, leaving us to our own devices.
If you’re looking to fix this, time blocking might be the right answer for you.
Time blocking is perfect for you if you…
- Juggle many different tasks, projects, or responsibilities.
- Spend too much time responding to emails and messages.
- Have meetings wedged between crucial tasks time.
- Struggle to find the time to mentally enable yourself to commit to big-picture thinking.
What is time blocking?
According to the Todoist, time blocking is a time management method that asks you to divide your day into blocks of time, as the name suggests. Each block is then assigned to finish a task or a group of them. The point of time blocking is to alleviate the ambiguity of an open-ended schedule, which could easily extend beyond the time you’ve originally planned to accomplish a task.
Unlike planning your daily schedule, time-blocking promotes prioritization of tasks. This means you need to be able to take stock of your weekly schedule and assign a level of urgency to each task.
Time blocking isn’t as rigid as it sounds. In fact, it promotes the ability to be more flexible with your own work. At the end of the workday, you can always review the tasks, taking notes of the ones you didn’t finish, along with incoming tasks, and adjust your time blocks accordingly.
Some build time blocks by-the-hour. Some others by work periods (e.g. “before lunch” “after 3PM meeting”). There’s really no right or wrong way to set a time block. You just need to prioritize and recognize the tasks by their urgency and difficulty.
A perfectionist’s good friend
An ambiguous work schedule is a perfectionist’s biggest enemy. While working on a project, there’s always room for improvement, tweaks, and fixed. We constantly find ourselves prolonging the hours we spend on a project just to see if we can work on it just a little bit further.
Time blocking helps promote the feeling of being satisfied with your accomplishments. There is always room for improvement, as much as there is time to work on a second draft. By imposing a time limit on your projects, you can define an end to a period of working on a task.
Taking it further
Using blocks of 30, 45, or 60 minutes is the best way for most modern workers. However, if you feel like leveling up your productivity game, you can work with smaller time blocks.
Elon Musk famously used the strategy of setting 5-minutes time blocks. But are smaller time blocks really more productive?
By using smaller time blocks, you can specify your tasks by the subtasks. Say, if you’re an SEO professional working on a project, you can do “start audit crawl”, “Identify header components”, and “identify main keywords” while technically auditing a page.
However, planning your time blocks in smaller intervals like these can take much longer than scheduling a set of bigger time blocks. Furthermore, you can easily find the domino effect taking place while one of your planned tasks takes longer than planned, having you spend even more time re-planning your day, or even your week.