blog time blocking

The Fine Art of Time Blocking

The concept of time blocking is not a new idea, but it is becoming more popular and proven to generate some impressive results. Scheduling time for yourself – actual, dedicated focus time, can save you hours of distracted work time.

While reading The ONE Thing, I’ve learned so much about time blocking that I absolutely had to share it. While it will definitely take practice and some adjustment, carving out (and blocking out!) that time in your calendar EACH DAY can generate some massive results.

How?

Well, first off – if you work in an office like I once did, you’re probably being interrupted frequently which disrupts your flow and focus. It can actually take 3x longer to REFOCUS on our original task! I can’t even tell you how many times people would just stop by my desk to say hi, chat, or ask a question. And while I loved these conversations as my coworkers were amazing, it wasn’t until after leaving that job that I realized how unproductive I really was! I actually enjoyed going there in the evenings or weekends to power through my work because I could actually focus for more than 10 minutes at a time. While this isn’t entirely their fault as I absolutely let it happen, I wish I knew the concept of time blocking then! Even just scheduling an hour where either I worked somewhere else or made it clear that I was unavailable for a certain time each day, would have made a huge difference.

So why am I telling you this? Because it’s easy for me to say as I sit at home in my own office, tucked away in the basement, that finding that time and space to focus on your (work/dream/project/goals – whatever it is!) is overwhelmingly important. I fully grasp that I am fortunate to be able to work out of my home all the time. Working in an office is full of distractions (coffee, anyone?) but that if you are really determined to make your work, project, or task a priority, that you NEED to block out that time. Pause your inbox and shut down your internet browsers. If you’re in an office, close the door or put up a sign and make it known that for the next while (you can set your own time limit) you are not to be disturbed. 

With that said, don’t for one second think that working at home doesn’t come with its handful of distractions. There’s always something to clean, laundry and dishes to do, other work or planning to be done – everywhere you look there are distractions (toss in a toddler and I could name a hundred more distractions!). But I’m not here to remind you that you need to go grocery shopping – I’m here to remind you that protecting your TIME is important. Not every thought that pops into your head needs to be actioned that very second- I promise you it doesn’t.

 

Here is what you can do to help begin your time blocking habit:

  • Either at the end of the workweek or the first thing you do at the start of a week, open your calendar and find at least 1-2 hours each day to block out. Book that appointment with yourself.
  • This time is not for responding to emails, checking social media, or anything else that is truly unproductive. It is meant to be dedicated time that you can focus on advancing your goals (and if you haven’t made those yet, more to come on that later!).
  • If someone tries to hijack your blocked out time, you have the right to say that you are already booked or have another appointment at that time.
  • Prepare for your blocked time: get a coffee, fill up your water, grab some snacks. Mute those inboxes and CLOSE all the windows you have on your screen that you won’t be needing. Last but not least, silence your phone. If you think you will still be tempted to look at it, then put it in another room.
  • Have a plan: know what you want to get done during that time. If your plan is to workout and focus on bettering your healthy habits, plan your workout ahead of time. Have your clothes, shoes, and music ready to go. If your plan is to focus on a work project, make sure you have everything at your fingertips that you might need before getting to work.
  • Prepare for distractions: this is especially important if you are at your desk. Have a pad of paper beside you to write down all those intrusive thoughts. Do not use an app as that gives an opening for distractions.
  • Be proud of yourself: time blocking (and sticking to it!) isn’t easy. If you’re doing it properly it should actually be quite difficult at first but the rewards will be more than you can imagine. The more you make this a habit, the easier it will become. 

 

And if nothing else, just do your best. It will take some trial and error to nail down your best routine for time blocking so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time (or the first three). My first attempt at time blocking was a total fail as I bit off way more than I could chew, in blocking 3 hours at a time. Ideally, I would love to work up to that, but to start I am blocking 1.5 hours in the morning. This works great for me most days as it’s long enough to really focus on some important work that I have been pushing aside, but it still leaves me with enough time to get my client-focused work done.

My last suggestion: if you are looking to start time blocking and struggling to get started, get someone to do it with you! You don’t have to have the same style or time-frame, but even connecting once a day when you are starting or have just completed your time block, can be a real motivation and provide that extra support. 

And if you don’t have anyone to be your support person, you know where to find me …

 

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