By the close of 2021, I realized it was crucial to make a change. Despite the excitement of watching my business flourish throughout the year, I began feeling the overwhelming effects of burnout. During the holiday season, I took the time to devise a strategy to enhance how I approach my workdays. My goal was to maintain my current productivity levels while also reclaiming a much-needed work-life balance. After careful consideration of various productivity techniques, I turned to time blocking, and it revolutionized how I organize my days, the speed at which I accomplish tasks, and the amount of free time I have outside of work.

Indeed, I am now a time-blocking enthusiast, and I am here to explain why numerous successful women rely on this strategy for productivity and how you can incorporate it into your work routine.

What is Time Blocking

So, what does time blocking entail? The beauty of this productivity approach lies in its simplicity. When planning your workday or week, all you need to do is segment your day into time blocks, each dedicated to accomplishing a specific task or group of tasks. You can begin by drafting a standard to-do list and then elevate your planning by assigning each task a specific time block for completion.

For instance, let’s consider how I, as a writer, would time block my day starting with a typical to-do list:

  • Write two blog posts
  • Organize three upcoming subject matter expert interviews
  • Meet with two clients
  • Research and outline two blog posts for the next day
  • Clear out inbox

With this to-do list in mind, I would then schedule my tasks around pre-allocated blocks for fixed events (e.g., meetings) at specific times.

  • 8-11 a.m.: Write two blog posts
  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m: Meet with client #1 at 11 a.m, take a lunch break, and meet with client #2 at 12:30 p.m.
  • 1-3 p.m.: Research and outline two blog posts
  • 3-4 p.m.: Organize three subject matter expert interviews and clear out inbox

How did I decide on the arrangement of my time blocks? Initially, I am most alert in the mornings, making it the ideal time for writing. Thus, I opted to commence my day with major tasks. I scheduled completion of both blog posts before my client meetings at 11 a.m. As there was a gap between meetings (which could easily lead to wasted time), I incorporated my lunch break into that block. Later in the afternoon, when my energy and focus dip slightly, I worked on researching and outlining blog posts, tasks requiring less concentration than writing. This groundwork would facilitate a seamless transition to writing the following day. I reserved the last block of the day for simple and small admin tasks, as focusing on substantial projects becomes challenging for me at that time.

My personal approach to time blocking may not suit everyone, and that’s okay. However, it illustrates how you can strategically utilize time blocking to enhance your work efficiency.

Why It Works

The effectiveness of time blocking lies in its ability to facilitate deep work, align with your optimal working routines, and enable seamless task transitions post-completion.

By committing to a specific time block, you concentrate on a single task or related tasks, thus enhancing your mental focus. Grouping tasks together minimizes task-switching (known to hinder efficiency). For instance, I find it efficient to send interview requests while clearing my inbox within the same block. The same principle guides my approach to research and writing. Research typically involves problem-solving and overcoming obstacles, best tackled independently to streamline the subsequent deep writing process.

Additonally, time blocking is motivating and aids in distraction avoidance. Setting time deadlines creates a sense of urgency. If distractions arise, veering off track may jeopardize task completion within the allocated block, potentially disrupting the entire day’s schedule.

Mistakes to Avoid

Although time blocking is straightforward, it’s important to steer clear of common pitfalls:

  • Underestimating task duration: Initially, estimating task durations accurately can be challenging. Starting with overestimations helps adhere to chosen time blocks. Allocate buffer time for unforeseen tasks or distractions that may prolong completion.
  • Include breaks and admin tasks: In addition to incorporating dedicated breaks, allow room for administrative work. Ensuring time for tasks like email management amidst major blocks is essential. Utilize finished blocks early for breaks, underscoring the importance of overestimation.
  • Avoid rigidity: Unexpected events or meetings may disrupt your schedule. Flexibility is key. Utilize erasable tools for scheduling adjustments on-the-go, maintaining a sense of control amidst shifts in plans.

How to Start Time Blocking

Embarking on time blocking involves trial and error, allowing you to refine your process. Begin by creating a to-do list before starting work or your workday. Estimate task durations and select a paper calendar, digital planner, or a simple sheet of paper. Prioritize fixed commitments like meetings, building time blocks around these. Allocate downtime between tasks to accommodate potential delays or breaks. Adapt and iterate, gradually honing your productivity with time blocking!


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