I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of trouble getting things done when there are a *lot* of things! I’m usually writing a book, marketing a book, and working on the blog every week. This summer, I realized I’d have to do something differently if I hoped to make any progress once school started up again. Enter time blocking.
You’ve probably heard about time blocking before, either online or in personal development courses or books. Simply, it just means to block out a period of time for one task — no juggling items on the to-do list, no multi-tasking. Just deep focus.
By using time blocking, I’ve been able to get a month ahead on my blog posts and graphics, something I’ve had on my weekly to-do list for so long that I’m embarrassed to say…but pretty much since beginning blogging! This frees me up to devote other blocks of time to specific tasks like book editing, marketing, answering emails, and tackling household tasks. Even if time blocking sounds too rigid to fit your lifestyle, give it a try. You may surprise yourself! Here’s how:
Look at your schedule
Don’t get tangled in perfectionism, here, you’re going to miss something at first, anyway. Just take a quick, practical look at your week. How are you spending your time? Be honest, too. Maybe what you think is fifteen minutes scrolling through Facebook is actually more life forty-five minutes. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s one of the benefits of time blocking; taking stock of your time can be eye-opening!
Make an appointment with yourself–and keep it!
Next, you’ll rank your tasks in importance from greatest to least. Decide how much time (usually an hour–remember: “sitting is the new smoking…”) you are going to block off, then write down what task you’re dedicating to that time chunk. You can write it in your paper planner, your calendar app, or a spreadsheet, but you have to note it somewhere. You’ll treat this appointment just like you would a meeting with someone you respect. Because you respect your work, right? Well, we all should treat ourselves like someone we care about, and that goes for our working selves, too.
Block out distractions.
If you have to, set the timer on your phone, then put it in ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode and put it waaaaay across the room. Or in another room. If you’re working offline, close all your browsers. Make it difficult to goof off. Listen to ambient music, or put in earplugs — whatever you have to do to focus. Threaten your family with dire consequences for interrupting you for anything trivial. Or go to a cafe and plug in your earbuds. You know what you have to do to minimize distractions. Just don’t spend too much time setting up a neutral environment. The object is to spend time working, not barricading yourself in a corner of the public library study area.
While I’m fairly new to the time-blocking scene, it’s working wonders for me. I’m singin’ it from the open windows of my car! The key is to be just flexible enough to try new methods and systems, but not so laid-back that there’s no structure. I’m committed to time blocking until my next blog evaluation, when I’ll take a hard look at what’s working and what’s not helpful anymore. But for now? Loving it.
NOW YOU: What’s your favorite way to knock out your to-do list? Have you tried time blocking yet?
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