Boost productivity and focus with Time Blocking

Time is your most valuable asset.

Mastering it is crucial to maximising both your output and impact. And because the whole reason we talk about time management is that we don’t seem to have much time in the first place, the most effective techniques are often those that are simple, intuitive, and instantly implementable.

Time blocking is one of those techniques. Applying this one simple technique to your day will have you see a noticeable and beneficial shift in the quality and focus of your output.

Imagine this: your calendar is bursting at the seams, meetings, deadlines, and emails demanding your attention left and right. It’s easy to feel like a hamster on a wheel, running but going nowhere. That’s where time blocking can help to create a sense of order, clarity, and progress.

Done well, time blocking is like creating a fortress around your time, protecting it from distraction, chaos, and lesser priorities masquerading as urgent. So, how can you harness this technique to conquer the daily time crunch? Let’s break it down in four steps.

  1. Prioritize like a pro:

    Something that is easy to lose sight of when your pedal to the metal is that tasks aren’t created equal. A way to tell you’ve lost track of this is your to-do list operated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. While this means you might be ticking off a lot of items, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing the work that matters most.To combat this, at the beginning of your week or day, take a moment to map out what your most purposeful and high-value tasks for this week. To be clear, this isn’t your whole to-do list or your list of things you hope to achieve, it’s the big stuff that matters most. Once you’ve got those, move on to step two.

  2. Block your time like a boss:

    Now that you’ve got your priorities in order, it’s time to allocate dedicated time blocks for each task. A good starting point is to block out an hour per day for your most significant priorities. If you read that last sentence and nearly fainted, consider starting at finding 30 or even 15 minutes per day – some time is going to be a whole lot better none.  As you gain momentum, you may start to have multiple time blocks per day, each protecting your focus and energy for a specific task or project.

  3. Encourage a culture of protecting time:

    Treat time blocks as high priority appointments with yourself. Put them in your calendar. Talk to your colleagues about what they are, and why they’re there. This will not only help protect your productivity time, but also encourage others to book their own in. Importantly, while you’re doing this, keep step 4 in mind…

  4. Balance boundaries with the need to be flexible:

    One last key to success is accepting that it won’t always work out like you planned. Inevitably, you’ll be called into meetings when you had time blocked out or receive a last-minute request will change your plans for the day. That’s okay. When this happens simply accept it as par for the course, and not a failure of you or the approach. If you can see this as a tool to protect your time as much as possible, and not something that needs to work 100% of the time, then you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

While completing these steps remember; the key is to be realistic, strategic, and when required – flexible. Consider your energy levels, focus, and attention span throughout the day. Schedule your most critical and mentally demanding tasks during your peak hours when you’re at your best. Consider blocking out time at the end of the day to wrap things up and set yourself up for success tomorrow. You’ll thank yourself for it.