Streamline, focus, repeat
There are plenty of tried and tested ways to up your productivity, and what works best differs from person to person. Perhaps you already have a routine in place and you’re looking to just reinforce them with apps. It could also be that you simply need your workspace to be conducive to productivity and all other things can fall into place. Either way, a big part of maximizing the work hours in the day, while keeping work-life balance in mind, is finding a system that works for you. For your consideration here: the time management technique time blocking.
What is time blocking?
Built on the premise of not finding time but making time for the things that matter, time blocking is all about seeing the hours in a day as blocks that you claim ahead for personal projects, work projects, leisure, learning and more. In this way, you have a structure to work with and a personalized ideal day in place that can be flexible enough to accommodate other last-minute add-ons.
Think of this as simply bringing back your predetermined class schedules in elementary school, where structure, routine and focus all work together.
Who can get the most out of time blocking?
The simple answer is: pretty much everyone. But this is especially useful for individuals who need a little help with consistency. Bursts of productivity are great. But ultimately, the sustainable thing to do is to put in the work regularly and achieve smaller but steady progress.
Time blocking is great for those who want to pursue passion projects but feel they can “never seem to get around to it.” It’s great, too, for those who want to build better habits. In a way, forcing yourself to be deliberate about what you dedicate your time to allows you to make the most out of your 24 hours and ultimately assess what you can do more of, what you can do less of and what you can take on next.
Always wanted to take up meditating? Plug that into your 7:00 to 7:15 AM window and allow nothing else to take up this slot. Thinking about your 2022 book goal? Why not make 9:00 to 10:00 PM a strict reading-only window?
You get the picture. Time blocking lets you revisit your “life buckets” (AKA your life pursuits), see what you want to achieve for each one, then, sets you up to pursue them as a system that routinizes intentionality.
How can you get the most out of time blocking?
Here’s how you can get started and make the system work for you:
1. Take a moment to check in with yourself
Think about the positions you currently fill. What roles are you taking on at home, at work, at other organizations, in your relationship, and others? For each role you’ve come up with, answer this question: What things do I have to do to fulfill these roles? Next, identify: what goals do I want to achieve for each of these roles? On this note, don’t forget your goals for just yourself. Prioritize your aspirations, too.
2. Organize your roles and goals into categories or “life buckets”
These can be labelled in any way that suits you. You’re free to see this task through the lens of your roles and goals so it’s simple and straight to the point. You can also factor in other aspects like wellness, life skills and more.
3. Before you rework your calendar, take a look at your current day-to-day schedule
If you have a regular job that takes up your nine-to-six window, take this into consideration. If your family has made it a point to have dinner at 8PM on the dot, think about this too. It’s important to factor in the predictable and the constant elements in your life so that you can build time blocking on top of your current routine—and not work against it.
4. Once you’ve blocked off the hours for the predictable day-to-day commitments, it’s time to carve out blocks for the things in your life buckets that you want to work toward
Time blocking can be incorporated into your planner in this way:
You can also introduce the system into your digital calendar:
Time blocking might just be the key to working smarter, not harder. Think it could work for you? Test it out in the coming month and let us know in the comment section about your time blocking trial.