The way you make your schedule can have a considerable effect on how well you manage your time. It follows, then, that the attitude you bring to schedule making is one of the most significant factors involved in how much you accomplish during a given period of time. This time blocking guide is designed to teach you a nuanced approach to schedule creation and help you reap the benefits in your daily life.
Proactive vs. Reactive Schedules
Essentially, there are two ways you can go about creating your schedule: a proactive or reactive fashion. A proactive schedule is one that’s centered on finishing the small tasks that eventually help you achieve your larger, more lofty goals. It’s also a great way to reduce the level of workplace stress that you experience.
If you tend to live reactively, you probably approach your schedule in one of two counterproductive ways. Some people don’t make much of a schedule, while others can’t follow through after they’ve put in the effort. Either way, this lack of discipline is something you’ll have to change.
What Exactly is Time Blocking and Why is It So Important?
One of the best ways to make your scheduling practices more productive is to learn how to time block. In a sense, this practice is similar to what companies do when they make an employee schedule. For most people, time blocking consists of the following:
- Consistently making a detailed schedule of everything you have to do in a given day
- Following through on everything that you’re scheduled to do
- Scheduling time for things like work projects, meals, and free time
- Organizing your daily tasks into time periods that keep you on task and maximize productivity
As you can see, time blocking is a disciplined approach to your day. It’s also one that keeps you focused on your personal goals and prevents you from being subject to the whims of others.
A Practice with Diverse Benefits
It’s simple– time blocking is important because of the many benefits you receive from it. Here are five of the most common benefits people experience by using this time management method:
- Proper time blocking ensures that work is your top priority
- It keeps your productivity from being compromised by fruitless distractions
- Reduces the cognitive load of constantly switching between tasks
- Prevents you from wasting excessive amounts of time while preserving your free time
- It reduces the amount of workplace stress you experience and makes you more productive
While time blocking emphasizes maximum productivity, the overarching benefit you receive from it is the accomplishment of your long-term goals. This is true for both your career goals and your personal ambitions.
A Few Quick Lessons on How to Time Block
The way different people divide up their days depends on their individual needs, but there are practices that seem to apply across the board. Follow these three tips, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming more productive.
1. Work Comes First. Being more productive at work is usually the chief goal of time blocking, so the forty hours you spend have to be accounted for first. This will allow you to make time for specific projects and know what you’re supposed to be doing at all times.
2. Look for patterns in the times of day when you’re the most (and least) productive. People work more effectively at varying times of the day. You can find out when your sweet spots occur by keeping tabs on how productive you are at different times for a couple of weeks. Once you determine when you’re the most productive, block off that time for your most challenging tasks. Similarly, schedule simpler tasks during those parts of the day when your production tends to drop off.
3. Adhere to the schedule you make, no matter what. Barring a serious emergency, you should never diverge from the proactive schedule you’ve made. For many people, it’s best to start by time blocking an hour or two a day. However, remember– your ultimate goal is to time block your entire day, so don’t let anything throw you off course.
The Time Blocking Takeaway
Every time management technique has its downside, and time blocking certainly isn’t an exception. For certain people, time blocking can feel very restrictive. Some of these people just don’t benefit very much from time blocking.
However, these ‘spontaneous’ types are the exception and not the rule. If you feel you could be more productive or have trouble focusing on the task at hand, time blocking could be part of the solution. It might even help you sleep better at night.