A few posts ago I talked about changing the frequency and days I post content, and also I wanted to write about my experience with time-blocking. Why not kill two birds with one stone? I spend about 1.5 hours time-blocking my week. Although this form of time management is not new to me, it’s something I’m slow at doing. I handwrite all of my blocking, and I do a week at a time instead of doing it each day. I haven’t looked into using an app because I have a non-digital planner that I love, although there are well-rated apps available to utilize.
Regarding the blog schedule, I want to post new content a minimum of two times per week. It’s something I will play around with and see which days work best, but right now I’m aiming for a Monday-Wednesday release schedule. Next week, I might try out Tuesday-Thursday to see which is a more comfortable deadline for releasing new posts.
I have a lot I want to get done before the kids go back to school, though, not just my blog. In light of my looming deadline, it was important to me to get into the habit of scheduling my days for productivity instead of drifting. I tend to waste a lot of precious time on “low value” tasks because I am easily distracted. I finally got tired of not finishing even a short a to-do list because I lost time doing low-priority things.
While time-blocking isn’t new to me, it wasn’t something I was using until recently. If you’ve read some of my earlier blogs, I mention how the only way to ensure I get something done is to put it on my calendar. I frequently put things on my schedule I haven’t finished, like I’m making an appointment, and I realized I could time-block my schedule to use that tendency to my advantage.
In one of the many school curriculums I’ve matriculated in, time-blocking was a required assignment. I didn’t think much of it at the time, because I’d been prioritizing my work in a school curriculum for a long time, but a few weeks ago I realized what a valuable resource I’d overlooked. The method the school taught had me schedule my time down to 5 minute increments, but I feel that’s too specific. What I needed was to block out specific chunks of time for work.
In the end, I changed my calendar around by blocking out chunks of time to complete work instead of just putting appointments on the calendar. I scheduled my day based on how much time I thought a task would take, and tried to follow the schedule to a T. But I was still having trouble finishing tasks.
Something time blocking taught me was this. Effective time-management requires an understanding of how long it takes to complete an activity.
That might seem like common sense, but it didn’t occur to me right away. I didn’t give up on time-blocking when it didn’t immediately work for me. Instead, I timed myself doing each task. After a week, I was forced to admit I had no actual understanding of the amount of time it took me to complete tasks that I perform regularly. As embarrassing as that is, at least I had come to the root of the problem.
Now, with a more realistic idea of what my schedule should look like, I use my time-blocking efficiently. There are a few ways to time-block. Setting chunks of time aside with a specific task assigned to them is blocking. Grouping together related tasks in one day is “day theming”. And then there’s “time-boxing” which is a specific sub-aspect of time-blocking where you give an activity a specific, timed deadline. A good example would be I will only check social media for 15 minutes.
Regardless of the method of time-blocking you use, the idea is that you put everything on your schedule in blocks of time. So your calendar doesn’t have white space between “events” the way it might if you only filled in appointments, meetings, etc. Instead, everything you plan on doing would be on the calendar.
The idea is to increase productivity and focus. So instead of only planning out things that cut into your day, you set aside dedicated time for the tasks you want to complete. I have tried a lot of different methods of time-management, but none so detailed. I’ve also not tried anything as efficient. I got more done in one day than I usually get done in a week. Not because I’m lazy, but instead because I was never quite this efficient at managing my time.
Before, I scheduled my day by writing out a list of things I wanted to accomplish then I would put the list down, and do a bunch of things that weren’t on the list. I’d go back to the list, smack myself in the forehead as I remembered all the things I still needed to finish, and proceed to do 1/4 – 1/2 those things.
At the end of the day I was tired, frustrated, and a lot of my tasks were left unfinished. My first week with time-blocking was similar. Partly because I had to remember to check the list, but mostly because I never realized how much time it took for me to complete some of the things I put on my schedule. Now, with a more realistic picture of how long it takes me to accomplish certain tasks, I can schedule my day effectively and prioritize my to-do list.
It’s worth noting that not everyone is as unaware as I can be of how long it takes to perform an activity. In part because I try to multitask a lot, but also in part because I allow many interruptions, and gauging the time I spent actually completing a task is challenging. That being said, flexibility is a must in any calendar. Life does happen, and nothing on your calendar is written in stone.
I’m still working on my time management; I’m far from perfect and I’m incredibly quick to be annoyed when my day doesn’t go as planned. Today, for instance, as I write this my day has unfolded very differently from what I blocked. I built pockets of flexibility into my week, though, so instead of melting down I was able to shift my perspective and adjust accordingly. That’s a huge win for me!
I hope you’ve learned something about time-blocking from this post. I did my own research, but these are the websites I found most helpful when I looked further into the concept:
How to Use Time Blocking to Manage Your Day – Verywell Mind
Are You Time-Blocking Your Calendar? Here’s Why You Should Start Now – Asana
How to Boost Your Productivity with Time Blocking: The Ultimate Guide – DeskTime
If you like to use apps for scheduling like I do, I found a helpful review from Zapier on five popular time-blocking apps, linked here.
“A stitch in time saves nine.” – Dr. Thomas Fuller