I’m sure you can relate to this. You wake up, look at your phone and see that the day ahead is crammed with meetings, tasks, calls, and errands.
The list goes on, and it’s hard to know where to start first. It feels like there’s no time for any of the other things in life that matter – like family time or exercise!
When we feel overwhelmed by our schedules, it can be easy to fall into a cycle of feeling stuck – like running on a hamster wheel. But there are ways out – one of which is using a technique known as time blocking.
If you are struggling with how to plan your schedule, then this blog post is for you. I’ll be covering time blocking and how it can help you take control of your schedule. And I even have a free time block schedule template that you can download!
So, if you’re ready, let’s get started!
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a technique that helps you organize, prioritize, and schedule all your tasks into specific periods of time. It’s a great way to stay productive throughout the day. I like to think of it as putting your to-do list on steroids.
You can allocate specific blocks of time to completing tasks or working on projects. In other words, you schedule tasks to be completed at a particular time. For example, you can assign a time block for social media engagement rather than doing it intermittently throughout the day.
You can plan for the whole day or week with this method! Time blocks are flexible. You can decide if you want to work in 30-minute blocks, 1-hour blocks, 2-hour blocks, etc. You can even mix and match throughout the day or week.
Time blocking helps you become more intentional about the way you spend your days. It’s also one of my favorite ways to stay organized.
What are the benefits of time blocking?
Time blocking helps you stay focused, prevents multitasking, and gives you more control over your day. You’ll manage your time better because you have structure to your day.
Let’s break that down.
You’ll be able to stay focused
Time blocking prevents you from jumping from one task to another and getting distracted. Instead, you can finish a time block and move on to the next one without distractions or interruptions.
When you time block, every task gets your full, undivided attention.
It will help you avoid multitasking
As busy entrepreneurs, we have a lot of balls in the air. It’s tempting to try to multitask, but seriously, multitasking is a bad idea. Attempting to multitask results in lower productivity and increased chances of making mistakes.
Why? You’re not really multitasking; you are “task switching.”
With time blocking, you can train yourself to work on one task at a time.
You’ll feel more in control of your day
You’ll feel more in control of your day by blocking out time for all your tasks instead of racing from one thing to the next.
Busy workdays can be stressful and leave us feeling overwhelmed and frazzled.
Once you get used to time blocking, you’ll find that you don’t overschedule yourself because you know how much work can actually get done in a day.
And that feeling of control is empowering. You know exactly what task each hour or block involves. You don’t have to wonder if you are doing the right thing.
The advantages of using a time block schedule template
So we’ve talked about the benefits of time blocking. What about the advantages of using a time block template?
First and foremost, templates are awesome! When you use a template, you don’t have to re-create the wheel every single day.
And you’ll find that you often perform the same tasks at the same time every day or every week. So you can add that to your template. That way, you aren’t always starting from scratch.
As promised, here’s the free Time Block Schedule Template so you can make your own weekly schedule. It’s a Google sheet, so you can use it onscreen or print out a hard copy. Whichever works better for you.
How does the time block schedule system work?
Here are some simple steps to follow to create your own time blocking system. It will help you keep your day on track and make it more productive.
Step 1: Make a list of your tasks for the week
The first step is to list all the tasks you need to complete for the next week.
- Review your calendar.
- Consult your master task list or to-do list app.
- Do a brain dump.
Get it all out of your head.
Step 2: Estimate how long each task will take
Next, estimate how long each task will take.
You don’t want to underestimate how long tasks will take–or overestimate either! You don’t want to schedule two hours for an hour-long task. And you certainly don’t want to squeeze ten hour-long tasks into half a day!
If this seems daunting, don’t worry. It gets easier with practice.
Step 3: Prioritize your tasks
At this point, if you are anything like me, you have more that you want to do than hours in the day. That means it’s time to prioritize.
Identify the tasks that are most important or that have a looming deadline. You’ll want to make sure you have room for them in your schedule.
Then figure out what you can eliminate or postpone. Think about it this way: What would be the worst thing that could happen if you didn’t get to a certain task this week or on a particular day?
Step 4: Assign tasks to specific times
Next, you want to put your tasks into time blocks. That’s the real key to time blocking: each task gets its own block. So how do you go about assigning a task to a particular time slot?
First, consider what time of day you are most alert and productive. For many people, that’s the morning. If that’s true for you, then block off your early morning hours for high-focus tasks. It’s a good idea to have dedicated time set aside for high-focus or creative work. Otherwise, it never seems to happen, right?
Personally, I need a couple of cups of coffee before I tackle that kind of work. So if you’re like me and you’re not an early bird, then schedule your high-focus work for later in the day. But do go ahead and block time for your regular morning routine.
Then consider what’s realistic for your day. For example, if you have to drop the kids at school or if you have meetings every morning at 9:00, block that into your daily schedule. Then you can make sure to schedule tasks around your appointments.
Also, build in time for breaks throughout the day. It’s important to take a break to keep yourself refreshed and focused. And don’t forget to block out leisure time. You want to make sure that you have balance between your work and your life.
Step 5: Put it into action
After you’ve planned out your time block schedule, it’s time to put it into action.
Start with the first block of the day and go to work. When you finish the first block, move on to the next.
Set timers on your phone to help you keep up with the blocks. That way, you can get into focus mode without having to pay attention to the clock.
If you find that you didn’t finish a task in the allotted time, don’t panic. This is your schedule. You can either decide that what you have done is “good enough” and move on. Or you can adjust your blocks to keep working on that task.
Next steps: Review and revise
Once a day, review your schedule and revise as needed.
You’ll never be completely accurate with your time estimates, and that’s okay. This is a plan. It’s not written in stone.
Did something take longer to complete than you anticipated? Was there an unexpected interruption in your day? Or, on the positive side, did you finish something faster than you thought you would?
Take a moment to revise your time blocks for the new day to reflect your current reality.
The Challenges of Time Blocking
So we’ve talked about the benefits of time blocking, but what about the challenges?
Starting out with a new time management strategy, like time blocking, can feel a bit like stepping into the unknown. You might be wondering, “Will this really work for me?” or “How do I even begin?”
Well, you’re not alone! It’s common to encounter a few bumps in the road when adopting something new, and time blocking is no exception.
Being afraid that it won’t work for you
One of the most common obstacles is being afraid that the rigid schedule won’t work for you. Seeing your day divided into neat chunks of time can feel restrictive. You might worry about losing spontaneity or flexibility in your workday.
It is a valid concern, but remember that the time-blocking method is not about boxing you in; it’s about giving structure to your day so you can focus on every single task.
Underestimating how long tasks take
Another challenge is underestimating how long tasks will take. This can lead to an overpacked schedule with no room for unexpected activities or extra time. Believe me, we’re all guilty of being overly optimistic about our productivity levels!
So, how do you overcome these challenges?
The key is to start small and be flexible.
Begin by blocking out time for your high-priority tasks – those activities that move your business forward. Start with just one or two blocks per day and gradually add more as you become comfortable with the process. Also, include buffer time for unexpected tasks or projects that take longer than you anticipated.
Remember, this approach to time management should serve you, not the other way around. If something isn’t working, tweak it. If a meeting runs over, adjust your schedule. And schedule in personal time. It’s your calendar, and ultimately, you’re in control.
Sure, embracing time blocking comes with its own set of challenges (what doesn’t?). But with patience, flexibility, and a little bit of trial and error, you’ll soon discover how this powerful time management technique can transform your workday and boost your business.
Time Blocking for Different Types of Tasks
Navigating through your workweek can sometimes feel like walking through a maze. With so many different tasks demanding your attention, it’s easy to feel lost and overwhelmed.
But here’s a secret: not all tasks are created equal! The beauty of time blocking is that you can tailor your daily schedule to suit the unique demands of each task.
If you’re doing creative activities or demanding tasks that require deep focus – think designing your new website or creating a new product – then set up dedicated time blocks in your highest-energy time of day. This is when you’re most alert, which means you can give these tasks the undivided attention they deserve.
On the other hand, administrative tasks like answering emails or scheduling meetings might not need that same level of concentration. You could slot these into smaller chunks of time throughout your day, ideally during your low-energy hours.
Integrating Time Blocking with Other Productivity Methods
Ever heard the saying, “Two heads are better than one?” Well, it turns out that’s true for productivity methods, too! Let’s dive into how you can supercharge your time blocking by integrating it with other proven strategies.
The Eisenhower Matrix
First up, let’s talk about the Eisenhower Matrix. It’s a handy tool that helps you sort out your daily tasks into four categories:
- urgent and important
- important but not urgent
- urgent but not important
- neither urgent nor important.
So, how does this tie in with time blocking? Simple!
Once you’ve categorized your individual tasks using the Eisenhower Matrix, you can allocate them into your daily schedule.
This way, you ensure that your high-priority tasks are tackled first, making your workday more productive and less stressful. It also helps you weed out unimportant tasks so that you don’t waste precious time on them.
The Getting Things Done Method
Next, let’s look at the Getting Things Done method (aka GTD). It’s like your personal game plan for tackling all aspects of your work. It involves five steps:
- capture all your tasks
- clarify what they mean
- organize them in a way that makes sense
- review your plan
- and get to work!
But here’s the kicker – the concept of next actions.
This is the secret sauce of the GTD method. It’s all about identifying the very next physical action required to move each task forward. Whether it’s making a call, drafting an email, or setting up a meeting, defining this helps you overcome any inertia and kick-starts your productivity.
So, how does GTD work with time blocking? Each block represents a dedicated slot for an individual task on your calendar. This way, you’re not just planning out what needs to be done but also when you’ll do it.
The Pomodoro Technique
Finally, let’s talk about adding in the Pomodoro Technique.
Picture your workday as a series of short sprints instead of a marathon. Each sprint, or Pomodoro, is typically 25 minutes of focused work followed by a five-minute break.
After every four Pomodoros, take a longer break. Integrating this technique into your time-blocking strategy means each block of time on your calendar becomes a series of Pomodoros, with rest and rejuvenation baked in.
So, why not give some of these combinations a whirl?
Remember, attaining peak productivity isn’t about cramming every minute of your day with tasks. It’s about effectively managing your time to make the most of your workday. With the right mix of time blocking and these other productivity methods, you’ll be well on your way to a balanced and productive workweek.
Frequently Asked Questions
A time block schedule is when you plan all your appointments and tasks in your day in blocks of time. You can use 15-minute blocks, 30-minute blocks, or even hour-long blocks. I prefer 15-minute blocks as a base, and then I can chunk them together with the most flexibility.
Great question! There are a number of ways to create your schedule. You can use a pen and paper or a program on your phone or computer.
My favorite way is to use Google Sheets because it’s easy to see the whole week at a glance, and I can move blocks around as needed.
A spreadsheet is a great format for your time block schedule. While I use Google Sheets, you can easily do the same thing in Excel.
Simply put your days or dates at the top of each column. Add your times vertically to each row in column A. You’ll end up with a simple tabular time block schedule.
Google Calendar is another great program to use for your time block schedule.
Instead of writing your tasks on paper or adding them to a spreadsheet or other app, you’ll create appointments in Google Calendar.
Create an appointment for each time block. Include the date, beginning time, and ending time. You can add color coding as well.
If you have a consistent schedule and you plan to use the same tasks at the same time every day or every week, you can set these appointments to repeat. That way you don’t have to constantly re-enter them in Google Calendar.
Weekly schedule templates will give you an overview of your whole week when planning your time blocks.
The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity and time management system that involves working uninterrupted for 25-minute intervals and then taking a 5-minute break.
It works very well in conjunction with time blocking.
There are a lot of apps that will keep track of your time. Toggl is my favorite time-tracking app.
I get it. Not everyone wants to manage their schedule digitally. If that’s you, then you can also use paper for time blocking. You can use a purchased daily time planner or download a printable daily time blocking planner.
Make sure it has time blocks in the increments you want to use (i.e. 30-minute blocks, 1-hour blocks, etc).
You might want to use colored pens or highlighters as well.
The same principles apply. You’ll add your tasks to specific time blocks on the paper and then focus on them during that time.
Make adjustments as you go, and understand that there may be times of the day when a block schedule doesn’t work. Be flexible and move things around as you need to.
Task batching is a technique where you work on similar tasks together in a group. Task batching and time blocking go well together because you can add a whole batch of tasks to your time block schedule.
Grab Your Time Block Scheduling Template
Are you ready to stop being a slave to your schedule and start owning your workday? That’s exactly what time blocking can help you achieve! It’s not just a time management technique; it’s a way to regain control over your daily life.
With time blocking, your calendar becomes your best friend, guiding you through your workday, one block a ta time. From tackling priority tasks to allocating extra time for that larger project looming on the horizon, this method brings a whole new level of planning to your day.
Now, it’s time to take the first step. Download your free time blocking sheets today and start experiencing the magic of an organized, productive workday.