Double Your Productivity With This Time Blocking Technique Of Professional Task Managers
Surely you’ve heard of a number of ways to schedule your day to be as productive as you can and to use your time as efficiently as possible. The truth is that there isn’t just one sure-fire way to do it. Each of us has a different way of working and getting tasks done, and what works for one may not always work for another. However, it pays to know—and try—other time management methods. The important thing is to find the right productivity technique that suits your personality, lifestyle, and work load.
Time blocking is another way of managing your daily or weekly schedule in such a way that you literally block off certain times of the day for specific activities. The key to time blocking is to identify your projects and deadlines in advance, and allotting enough time for your to accomplish what needs to be done for each.
This time management method allows you to focus specifically on certain tasks that need to done within the day or the week, while also giving you the exact number of hours (or even minutes) to accomplish each task. Think of it as breaking down your day into manageable pieces wherein you are also able to accomplish something each time.
One important factor in successful time blocking is to make sure that once you have allotted specific blocks of time for an activity, you are also focused only on finishing the task at hand. This requires razor-sharp focus on one activity at a time, and that you are not interrupted by any other task or distraction while doing a specific task. If this means shutting off your mobile phone, logging off your email, and falling off the social media radar for a couple of hours, then do it.
More importantly, time blocking is a realistic way of looking at what you can accomplish within a day, while also ensuring that you don’t waste time on little distractions or procrastinate.
Want to get started on time blocking? Here are the few and easy steps:
List down all the projects and tasks you need to accomplish for the month.
Make a detailed list of all your work projects, home and family to-dos, and even personal errands for the week or month. This way, you are able to have a good overview of every task that needs your attention.
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Sort these to-dos into categories.
We all have a number of tasks that we need (or even just want) to accomplish, from our work projects to house chores, to family responsibilities to self-care tasks such as exercise and meditation. Take the time to sort out each activity per category.
Identify deadlines for each.
Organize this list chronologically, taking note of the deadlines and dates when each task must be accomplished. If the task is something that you want to do daily, say meditation or exercise, take note of it, and mark down how much time you need for it.
Decide on how long your day is—realistically.
We all only have 24 hours in a day, and no matter how much we try, we can only be physically and mentally active for so long. Don’t compare yourself to a colleague who can work long into the night if you can’t, or worse, sacrifice family time when you know you’re needed at home. Time blocking is a way to efficiently and realistically see how much you can truly accomplish in a day; it’s not a competition to see who has the longest day.
To do this, log the times you wake up and your bedtime. The hours in between determines the length of time you can allot for your tasks for the day.
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Use a calendar and write it down.
Whether you prefer a printed calendar or a digital one, choose a calendar with an hourly log that has sufficient space to write on. Using these hourly spaces, mark down specific time slots for the categories of tasks you listed. For instance, if you wake up at 7AM and need to have your coffee before starting your day, block off 7 am to 7:30AM for your morning coffee ritual. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour for getting ready for work from 7:30AM to 8 or 8:30AM. If your work commute takes an hour, then block off 8:30AM to 9:30AM as your “Travel to work” time. Once you get to the office, use your 9:30AM to 10AM block for checking emails or your in-tray, then block off 10AM to 12NN for working on a specific project. Don’t forget to set aside time for meals! Do the same for the rest of your afternoon, until you get home. You can do the same for tasks at home, such as prepping and cooking meals, doing the laundry, helping the kids with assignments, and even hubby time.
Not fond of calendars? Use your smartphone’s calendar or reminder function, and set an alarm for each time block.
Set aside time for breaks.
While it may be tempting to fill up each hour with an important task, keep in mind that you will need breaks somewhere along the way. Taking breaks is an important part of a productive day, as it helps you recharge and reset for the next task ahead. Use your break times for a healthy snack, a quick walk around the block, or even just bathroom visits.
You may not have the same energy level or mental focus as Elon Musk or Bill Gates who are supposedly proponents of time blocking, but at least you can try managing your time as efficiently as them. The goals are to utilize as much of your day on accomplishing important tasks without distraction, to work on each task with your full attention and focus, and to stay productive on a daily basis.