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Common ways to increase productivity by using Time-Blocking

Our most valuable resource is time, especially when working toward professional objectives, but most of us struggle with time management, or at the very least, we have room for improvement. Fortunately, there might be some answers. When used effectively, time-blocking is a tactic that makes us think more carefully about the time we spend and how we spend it, which can significantly increase productivity. In this article, the answers to the following questions will be discussed:

  • What Is Time-Blocking?
  • Is Time Blocking harmful?
  • 19 Common Ways to Use Time-Blocking
  • Common Time-Blocking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  • Tips from Time-Blocking Experts
  • The Best Apps for Time-BlockingCommon ways to increase productivity by using Time-Blocking

Read more: The True Value of Time in Life

What Is Time-Blocking?

Time blocking is a technique where you divide your time into manageable “blocks” or planned intervals where you’ll do particular tasks. A typical 8-hour workday can consist of 16 30-minute time blocks, with each block being used for things like “email catch-up,” “daily meetings,” or “project B.”

The following are three-time blocking variations you should know:

  • Task Batching
  • Day Theming
  • Timeboxing

Task Batching

To perform them all at once, comparable jobs are grouped. Thus, you won’t have to change contexts throughout the day.

Day Theming

This is time blocking taken to the greatest degree possible. It is ideal for those who need to block each day based on a theme and manage several different areas of duty.

Timeboxing

This refers to reserving time to concentrate on a particular task or activity for a fixed amount of time.

Is Time-Blocking harmful?

Time blocking is harmful if you don’t allow yourself the time to relax and have fun. Even if you consider yourself to be an achiever who strives for excellent results all the time, time blocking will help you plan your work so that you can fall into a more productive routine.

Read more: Common strategies to achieve more in less time and be more productive

19 Common Ways to Use Time Blocking

The following are common ways to use time blocking:

  • Recognize the Fundamentals of Time Blocking
  • Don’t Multitask
  • Decide on Your Chosen Increments
  • Spend some time deciding which parts of your day to time block
  • Choose the Right Strategy for Documentation
  • Give Yourself a Buffer
  • Don’t Forget to always Warmups and Cooldowns
  • Block Time for “Deep” Tasks
  • Spend Time Doing Tasks that are “Shallow”
  • Do Tasks that are “Reactive”
  • Don’t Be Tempted to Skip Break Time
  • Make a Visually Appealing Time Blocking Plan
  • Create a Replicable Formula
  • Be ready to Fail at first and Estimate Poorly
  • Tell others That You’re Time Blocking
  • Schedule a “Catch up” Day
  • Don’t give up when you need to change your strategy
  • Increase the Use of Time Blocking in Other Areas of Your Life (If It Works for You)
  • Continue to observe the blocked times for 30 days

 

Recognize the Fundamentals of Time Blocking

First, comprehend the attractiveness of time blocking (despite so many other time management techniques in use). Although time blocking is a fairly straightforward activity, the reasoning that goes into it is more significant. Time blocking enables you to accomplish multiple objectives at once. It enables you to budget your time in the same way that you would your income. It assists you in keeping track of your time and locating areas of waste. It makes you commit your attention to specific periods, which aids in prioritizing. It also provides you with a reliable system you may use for any significant task.

Don’t Multitask

Many years ago, it has been established by scientists that multitasking is ineffective. No matter how competent you believe you are at multitasking, it’s likely that concentrating on one activity at a time would be much more beneficial. Multitasking lowers productivity by 40%, according to research. If time blocking is properly used, it forces you to refrain from multitasking. Set only one goal for each time block; for instance, don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked by emails, calls, or other unrelated chores during your 30-minute “complete sales proposal” task. Your productivity can significantly increase only by making one modification.

Read more: Is It good to multitask and can you get used to it

Decide on Your Chosen Increments

Although we’ve used a 30-minute time block as an example up to this point, it’s not necessary. No matter what kind of increments you’re using, time blocking can be effective. Multibillionaire businessman Elon Musk is renowned for his capacity to schedule his days in 5-minute blocks. Smaller time intervals allow you to be more exact with your schedule, but they can also be more stressful to maintain. Different people perform best under different systems, so carefully weigh your alternatives. If you’re unsure, start with a larger time frame, such as 45 or 1 hour.

Spend some time deciding which parts of your day to time block

Consider which parts of your day you’d like to block off. You don’t have to block out the entirety of your day, especially if you’re just getting started. This entails scheduling the “core” of your day, which for most beginners is between 10 am and 4 pm, following your morning routine but before your daily wrap-up. It’s best to block your entire day, from beginning to end—including your personal life—for more experienced time blockers.

Choose the Right Strategy for Documentation

It will be challenging to maintain your time-blocking routine organized in your thoughts, even if you have a perfect remembering. You’ll need to rely on a system of documentation in its place. It doesn’t matter what system you use as long as it works properly for you. You should be able to block off your time in regular intervals and set alerts so that you are aware when one time period is over with the use of a decent calendar app or Google Calendar.

If you’re old-fashioned, you might keep track of your day using a written planner or even a series of sticky notes. In any event, using a timer that runs automatically is an excellent approach to staying mindful of the passing of time.

Give Yourself a Buffer

Give yourself a tiny buffer of extra time before and after each block of time. For instance, if you are working with 30-minute blocks of time, allow yourself an extra five minutes to serve as a transition period. Keep your schedule organized by working for 25 minutes and then leaving 5 extras for breaks. Since most incoming work isn’t organically categorized, this will help you finish jobs that don’t fit neatly into your initial time-blocking plans.

Don’t Forget to always Warmups and Cooldowns

The majority of people don’t start their workday in their most productive state. Before you can begin working, you need time to turn on your devices, grab some coffee, read your emails, and generally “settle in.” You’ll be interested in wrapping things up and getting ready to go at the end of the day. Avoid being overly strict when blocking these times; instead, treat them as an original, unending block. You could, for instance, schedule most of your day in 15-minute blocks while giving yourself a 1-hour “warmup” and 30-minute “cooldown.”

Block Time for “Deep” Tasks

Deep work is the capacity to concentrate solely on a mentally challenging task without being distracted. It’s a talent that enables you to quickly grasp difficult knowledge and deliver superior results in less time.  Deep activities, as opposed to tiny, discrete obligations, demand your complete attention or function as big undertakings. They should be blocked so that you can concentrate solely on them; no other tasks or allowances should be included in any block assigned to a deep task. Even so, one block might not be sufficient; don’t be afraid to give the same critical task many blocks.

 Spend Time Doing Tasks that are “Shallow”

Shallow task time blocking operates somewhat differently. Tasks that don’t require much thought or effort are referred to as “shallow work,” and they frequently pile up during the day. Consider grouping shallow jobs together for blocking as you won’t require an entire block to complete any one shallow task. To check “email, social media, and project management platforms,” for instance, or to “catch up on communications,” you may set aside a block of time.

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Do Tasks that are “Reactive”

Irregular, reactive jobs are challenging to forecast and even more challenging to manage. They frequently manifest through interaction. For instance, you might need to coordinate work on a particular project by managing an ongoing conversation with your staff. Once more, you should group these jobs in a block for the entire category.

Don’t Be Tempted to Skip Break Time

It’s simple to overlook the value of pauses when your strategy is primarily about productivity. However, you must schedule breaks just as you would do some other activity if you don’t; else, burnout is a possibility. This includes all breaks throughout the day, not just lunch. Here, time blocking in short bursts—say, every 10 or 15 minutes—works best. If you work in 30-minute increments, think about combining breaks and work in each block.

Make a Visually Appealing Time-Blocking Plan

Make sure your attention wouldn’t overlook anything to prevent missing tasks. This calls for the development of a time-blocking plan employing vibrant colors. If you use paper, make it stand out from your other goods by writing using a pen of a different color or using capital letters. Use tags or some other approach that emphasizes it for you to label or flag it if you are using a task manager.

Read more:  Common ways that can help you with time management and getting good results

Create a Replicable Formula

Try to make a template that you can use for all of your future time blocking needs after you’ve blocked time for a few shifts. To make a place in your schedule for less predictable priorities or chores that are decided daily, assign blocks for all your predictable, routine duties.

Be ready to Fail at first and Estimate Poorly

Most people are lousy at forecasting how long tasks will take and even worse at tracking their own time. Be prepared to feel ashamed at how inaccurate your first estimates of the timeframe of even your most routine jobs were when you write down your first draft for time blocking. Try to give a task more block space than you believe it requires by overestimating how long it will take to complete it as a way to make up for this.

The first few days you try this might slightly reduce your productivity, but as you acquire a sense of how long each type of work takes, you’ll be able to estimate your time blocks a lot more precisely. Better still, utilize a time tracking app to calculate exactly how much time you spend on repetitive tasks, which can help you generate more accurate estimations and shorten your learning curve.

Tell others That You’re Time Blocking

Your friends and family should be aware of your busy hours so they won’t try to contact you then. Inform your partners, coworkers, and supervisors that you will be time blocking. Your habits will alter after you begin this practice. You may take longer to reply to some emails, you may be more competitive with meeting scheduling, and you’ll most likely be more structured in your workday. If people are aware of the cause, they will be much more understanding.

Schedule a “Catch up” Day

Things will still fall through the cracks even with time blocking. You’ll forget to do a few things, or you’ll need an extra hour or two to complete that significant job. Give yourself a free catch-up day that is at least largely block-free to prevent stressing yourself out. Giving oneself the extra latitude as you complete your priorities is advantageous.

Don’t give up when you need to change your strategy

According to studies, the “optimal” time blocking method for the typical individual is to work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes. However, this might not be effective for you. Everybody has different tastes and working methods, which will work well with different time schedules. While some people require longer breaks less frequently, others require shorter breaks more frequently. As you gain a greater understanding of yourself, be prepared to adjust your strategy.

Increase the Use of Time Blocking in Other Areas of Your Life (If It Works for You)

Spend a few weeks setting out time for your working life and assess how it works for you. Do you feel more worried or more productive as a result of it? Consider implementing time blocking in other aspects of your life in the long run if it boosts your productivity and reduces stress during the workday. Schedule time for socializing and household activities in the same way that you schedule projects and responsibilities at work. It’s okay to limit blocking time to work only or to stop using it altogether if you find it to be overly regulated or ineffective.

Continue to observe the blocked times for 30 days

You need time to allow time blocking to become ingrained in your behavior. 30 times of the blocked time should be repeated. You’ll learn how important the things you’re blocking out time for are as well as how the blocked periods will fit into the flow of your week. Additionally, you’ll be able to determine how much time you require, whether or not that time of day suits you, and a whole lot more.

Read more: Understanding flowtime techniques

Common Time-Blocking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

The following are common time-blocking mistakes people usually make, along with solutions:

  • Starting the day late
  • Procrastinating
  • Underrating tasks
  • Giving up early

Starting the day late

Most of your time blocking work will be in vain if you don’t get your day started on time. Get up as early as possible to avoid feeling rushed throughout the day. Though “early” is a relative term, consider your daily routine to determine the ideal time to begin your day.

Procrastinating

Procrastinating will just cause you to run in circles while making excuses for why you can’t do your work, which is detrimental to your ability to concentrate. Backlogs are thereby made possible as a result.  Rewarding oneself at the end of the day is one technique to quit procrastinating. It might be a delicious meal or a fun night out with your closest friends.

Underrating tasks

People who attempt time blocking for the first time sometimes underestimate the effort and time required to complete tasks. Make an exception for yourself rather than doing this.

Giving up early

Learning to block out time takes practice. Many people prematurely abandon this successful tactic because they failed the first time.  Give this technique some time to become second nature. You’ll be startled at how much your productivity increases as a result over time.

Read more: How to be a pro at Timeboxing for Greater Productivity

Tips from Time-Blocking Experts

The following are some tips from time-blocking experts:

  • See It as if it’s a Game
  • Know When to Say No
  • Have a Clock close to you

See It as if it’s a Game

Cal Newport believes that while time blocks shouldn’t be rigid, they should be viewed as a game. Instead, it needs to be adaptable enough to overlook mistakes when you fail. This kind of planning, in my opinion, is similar to a game of chess, where blocks of labor are distributed and arranged so that both large and minor projects appear to be completed with (just enough) time remaining

Know When to Say No

Saying yes to every single assignment that is given to you makes it simple to get overworked. You cannot, however, time block your way to completing an impossible number of tasks. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s perfectly fine to say “no” sometimes.

Have a Clock close to you

Even while your internal sense of time may be excellent, if you don’t want to miss something crucial, you shouldn’t rely on it. Have a clear clock in your workspace to ensure that you don’t lose track of time. This will guarantee that you keep to your timetable.

The Best Apps for Time-Blocking

Technology is on your side if you don’t want to, time limit your days on paper. Here are our recommendations for the best time-blocking apps. The following are The Best Apps for Time-Blocking:

  • Clockwise
  • TimeBlocks
  • Plan
  • Sunsama
  • HourStack
  • TickTick Premium

In summary

Although time blocking isn’t the best approach for every business or circumstance, it may save you a ton of time and increase your productivity when used properly. Use it to increase your concentration, properly prioritize tasks, and gain a better knowledge of how you spend your time throughout the day. That is all for this article, where the answers to the following questions are discussed:

  • What Is Time Blocking?
  • Is Time Blocking harmful?
  • 19 Common Ways to Use Time Blocking
  • Common Time Blocking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  • Tips from Time Blocking Experts
  • The Best Apps for Time Blocking

I hope you learn a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with others. Thanks for reading, see you around!