How To Increase Your Productivity With Time Blocking

Managing your busy lifestyle and schedule isn’t always easy. Juggling what you HAVE to do and what you WANT to do along with the unexpected surprises is quite a task. Through the recent years of working from home,  I have learned, utilized, and honed many tips and tools on how to schedule my day effectively and now know how to be insanely productive daily with time blocking!

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Recently in my work from home journey, I struggled with my time management skills; which is funny because I have always been known for possessing impeccable time management in my corporate career. In the past I was so on point with my scheduling and juggling, I was able to handle the workload of several full-time positions. Trust me, this wasn’t easy and is part of the reason I now work for myself.

But, leaving the 9 to 5 world and starting to work for myself as a business coach threw me out of routine! I was not using my tried and true time blocking method to plan my days. Don’t get me wrong, I came into the online business world fully expecting to work 70-80 hour weeks starting out.

It’s not the amount of work — It’s the balancing of the amount of work and learning.  My to-do list, as I devour every bit of online marking information I can find, is a mile long! I’m juggling courses, growing social media, writing blog posts, SEO, GDPR, disclosure and privacy policies, Squarespace, algorithms, my coaching clients, and the list goes on and on.

Have your own online business definitely isn’t the get rich quick by only working four hours a week (psst…I know no one believes those articles) career that some portray. It is time-consuming and intensive, but the reward of working from home or wherever you are is SO worth it.

You must take control of your time!  A great affirmation is: Time does not own me - I own my time!

This is the mantras that I have on a never ending loop in my mind.

I know I need to take ownership of my time and get back to the confidence of controlling my schedule, not vice versa. I’m ready to be more productive and feel accomplished at the end of the day…not just staring at a very long list of to-dos that I still need to complete.

While after 2 years of working from home, I’m still working out the kinks of this new life of mine. I know I am finding my pace and on the right track now that I am using time-blocking to take ownership of my day.

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Time Blocking: What is it?

Time blocking is exactly what it sounds like, blocking segments of time and dedicating these segments to designated tasks. In a nutshell, time blocking is scheduling your day! Instead of having a list that makes you feel frazzled; you have a neat calendar with scheduled times for tasks.

Simple RIGHT?!

Seriously, I CANNOT believe I had to discover this strategy by asking Google for “methods of time management”! This is essentially what I did in the corporate world daily – financial budgeting and reconciling, block off four hours of uninterrupted closed office door time with a 30-minute break midway through to clear my mind and take a walk.

Is Time Blocking better than a to-do list?

When you write a mile long to-do list, are you being realistic with your time? Really? Let’s think about this…grab your latest to-do list or create a new one with all of the things you need or want to accomplish. Now sit back and really think about this list and think about your time. Can you accomplish ALL of these tasks in ONE day? There are 1440 minutes in a day and not all of these minutes are useable (we must eat, sleep, and have personal time).

I usually carry over many items to my list for the next day and the next day – never feeling that complete sense of accomplishment. But when I looked at my time realistically and organized the time, not the tasks, I felt a sense of accomplishment and benefited in so many ways…Big stress relief!

Instead of looking at the big pile of tasks, I prioritized and looked at segments which were manageable! I can’t tell you the load this lifted from my shoulders. Prior to time blocking no matter how much I tackled from my list, my mind remembered and focused on what I didn’t complete! Think about it…do you high-five yourself over all of the things you did in a day or do you think about the things you have yet to complete?

When managing your to-do list, it is easy to over-commit. We look at our list and just add another item, figuring we will fit it in somehow. When you use time blocking, you schedule your tasks and put them on your calendar or in your planner. You essentially force yourself to think of the task and how long it will take to complete it. Using this method forces you to look at your plans realistically.

Why do I love being Highly PRODUCTIVE every single day?

Planning this way caused me to take action, instead of having a list of things I planned to get around to doing. I REALLY had a plan! By scheduling my time, I was making a commitment to myself to complete the task.

I also find using the time blocking method helps to prevent {my} secret procrastinating side. I like to say that I work extremely well under pressure…but to be honest I am a procrastinator which has developed my ability to work under pressure. If a task is complicated or harder to complete; it is the last task I tackle…waiting until the last possible moment to take action. Guess by admitting this I’m no longer a member of Procrastinators Anonymous!

Can you Time Block?

The simple answer is YES! But before you sit down with your calendar and fill in all of your minutes I want you to think about the little things that must happen in a day (eating, walking the dog, sitting in the school pickup line) and make sure you add these to your schedule. And definitely, schedule in some “me time”!

We all need to take care of ourselves to continue to work at a high performance. If you just load up every minute of your day by copying your to-do list, you are really not time blocking…you are just making a list on a calendar.

How to Time Block

  1. Make a to-do list. Wait! What? Did I just say to make a to-do list after saying time blocking is better for you than a to-do list? Yes, I did! Even though you are shifting to a new time management system you will still need a list of daily tasks…You don’t want to forget anything. My to-do list is generally an open note on my phone that I ask Siri to add things to instead of using a pen to paper. Do whatever works best for you.

  2. Prioritize your time. Take a good look at your to-do list and prioritize. Remember there are only so many hours in a day, so set your priorities and decide on your highest functioning times. Schedule your most demanding tasks during these times…so you are at your most productive. I am a morning person, so I fill up my mornings knowing that is when I am ready and willing to face anything! Estimate the time frame for each task and start plugging in the blocks into your calendar. Continue this process until you have blocked your day or week.

  3. Be flexible. “People’s biggest misconception with time-blocking their day is that the goal is to stick with the schedule no matter what,” says Georgetown University professor Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Time blocking is not a set-in-stone type of time management. It is a method of organizing your day into time slots to help keep your focus and manage your time properly. Adjusting time will be necessary throughout the day.

If you are intrigued by this time management method, I hope you give it a try and share your feelings, comments, and other ideas below. I would love to hear from you!

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