Using Your Planner to Implement the Time Block Method
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” - Theophrastus
Modern life can be hectic, and without a clear schedule, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with everyday tasks. Time blocking is a strategy that helps maintain protection of your time while limiting disruptions, or time stealers. It could be precisely the method needed to take your productivity efforts to the next level. Read on for our favorite ways to implement this technique!
What is Time Blocking?
Time blocking is a method of pre-planning that involves separating the time in your schedule into dedicated “blocks” or “boxes” throughout the day. This method of planning gained popularity because of (and is commonly attributed to) Elon Musk, who practices extreme time blocking utilizing strict 5-minute blocks. Time blocking goes a step beyond creating a to-do list, with less procrastinating and more opportunity to devote your precious time to your most important tasks. It allows you to maintain control and balance between your personal life and workload.
How to Start Time Blocking
The most important factor in time blocking is to include everything. This includes not only significant projects, but also time dedicated to more mundane activities, such as checking social media, taking lunch, walking the dogs, going for a jog, etc. The idea is to increase your personal productivity by allocating a strict time frame to the tasks that are least significant, and carving out larger portions of time for your responsibilities and most important priorities.
Time Blocking to Fit Your Routine
The next important factor in time blocking is accurately determining how you should divide your time. Time blocking is an intensely personal endeavor - don’t try to fit yourself into a box! If you are at your most productive after you’ve had a cup of coffee and shrugged off morning sleepiness, perhaps start your most important time blocks later in the day. If you’re an early bird, arrange your schedule to include time blocks for more detailed tasks early on in the day, with time for relaxation in the afternoon. To set your time blocks, start by estimating how long something could and should take and then allocate it into your schedule. When first attempting this method, allow a few minutes of buffer time between tasks, just in case. As you become more comfortable and familiar with your habits, you can tighten or loosen your blocks as needed.
A helpful way to stay organized while pre-planning your time blocks is by implementing task batching. To avoid context switching, which can be a harmful form of multitasking, work on batching similar tasks to one block. Perhaps answering emails and checking various notifications can be assigned to one block, while reading and studying can be assigned to another. Tasks that flow naturally into each other can be grouped together, while distinct tasks can stand alone. This way, you limit exerting mental energy and disposing valuable time between tasks.
Making It Work for You and Your Planner
Time blocking can be as strict or lenient as you allow. Our Undated Daily Planner Inserts are a great layout for those new to time blocking, as they divide the day into hourly slots ranging from 7am to 9pm. To make these inserts work for you, first, map out your most pressing tasks under “Priorities,” and add your daily responsibilities under “To Do List”. You then have an outline to transfer these tasks into specific time blocks under “Schedule”. For those that would like to plan with an overview of their week and more hourly space, I recommend the Undated Hourly Weekly Inserts | 2nd Edition, which provides a weekday timeline from 6am to 9pm/6am-8pm weekend. Looking for consistency in your daily schedule? The Lao Tzu Undated Hourly Inserts, which offer a 5am to 9pm schedule each day, could be your perfect match.
No matter which inserts you choose, remember that it is okay to fall off-schedule sometimes! Perhaps doing so is a reminder to re-prioritize goals or loosen your schedule’s rigidity. The point of the time block approach is to protect your time, not to become a productivity machine. A great method to handle overflow is to assign a “catch-up” day, where you tackle all of the tasks that fell through. Additionally, try not to over-delegate your relaxation and self-care time. Instead of labeling blocks as “Take a Nap” or “Watch TV,” assign your personal time as something as simple as “Self Care” or “Relaxation” -- this prevents you from making your personal time feel like a chore.
Need additional assistance implementing time blocking in your planning? Schedule a Planner Consultation with one of our experts today!