Time-blocking is one of the most effective time-management practices, even during the coronavirus crisis.
Time-blocking helps you:
- Prioritize activity
- Grow your time awareness
- Keep your mind focused on the current task
- Say “no” to activities you don’t have time to accomplish or that don’t align with your goals
I’ve used time-blocking off and on over the years and experience a clear benefit when I do. It’s not about being overly rigid. It’s being clear about your intentions.
Even now, I find time-blocking essential to keeping focused. On days that I don’t time-block, I feel it, and it doesn’t feel good. Those days just seem to slip away.
What is Time-Blocking?
Time-blocking is the scheduling of just about everything you have to do in a day. I schedule everything from when I wake up, to priorities, and even relaxation. It helps me be very clear about what I’m supposed to be doing… even if that thing is checking out mentally.
In this example, you can see what a typical day looks like for me.
I start by setting the “bookends” of waking up and going to bed. I also include my morning routine here.
I then add any obligations… Meetings, dinner, or any appointments.
I add priorities next. In an ideal world, I would already have my priority time on my calendar and schedule all meetings around it. However, in this crisis, we have to be a bit flexible.
I add in loose ends, to-do list stuff (be specific here too), and then I add in my leisure time.
Why leisure time? One, because I tend to let work creep into my rest time and don’t take time to rest. Two, I also find that I can be more focused on relaxing. Sound odd? It did for me too. It’s actually a nice experience to be free to relax without guilt.
When time-blocking, I don’t focus on the pressure to fit each thing into its block. I observe what took more or less time than expected and make adjustments for the next day. As I learn, I get better at planning tasks in the future with proper time estimates.
Using an electronic calendar makes this practice really easy because if I find myself falling behind and needing to adjust, I can simply drag an item to another time or even another day.
Ammo to Say “No”
This may be the biggest benefit for those of us that have a hard time saying “no” when someone asks us to do something we really don’t want (or don’t have time) to do. We feel obligated. We want to be nice. We hate saying “no” to people we love.
When we have our days time-blocked, we gain a keen awareness of the value of our time and how we can fall behind if we let others tasks creep in. We develop a sense of purpose and direction. That direction also provides us with the power and freedom to not allow other things get in our way. We more clearly see that “a quick favor” isn’t so quick.
Now, I’m not saying you don’t help someone in need. What you will learn is how to take care of your own time and evaluate other peoples’ needs with a much clearer lens. Remember, the better you take care of yourself, the more healthy you will be in helping others.
Time Blocking the Weekend
I know. Seems too much. Right?
I actually find it MORE valuable on the weekend.
Ever had a weekend go by when everything you planned to do just never got done? Time flew by and you didn’t do what you wanted to do at all. You’re not relaxed or rested and you certainly didn’t get your chores done. I’ve been there.
That’s when the the magic of time-blocking becomes obvious.
By time-blocking my weekend, I get my chores around the house finished, work doesn’t creep into my down time, and when I’m in “chill mode”, my mind is totally at ease.
Give it a shot.