Have you ever felt overwhelmed by how much you had to do on a given day and how little time you had?
Do you often find yourself struggling to stay focused in the face of repeated interruptions?
Have you noticed your productivity going down when you procrastinated or wanted to do something perfectly?
If your answer to any of the above was 'yes', you could benefit by trying the time management technique of "time blocking". Also referred to as "monotasking" or "time chunking", this technique enables us to use our time more productively by making us set aside particular blocks of time to complete specific tasks. Focussing on one task at a time can help us manage both high and low priority tasks, such as essential project deliverables or pending replies to emails.
The Advantages of Time Blocking
Time blocking can benefit us in many ways -
- Enhances awareness of time spent: Time blocking helps us become aware of the actual time it takes to complete an activity. This, in turn, helps us in using our time more intentionally.
- Improves focus: By working on one task at a time, we can increase our concentration, developing our mental capacity for 'deep work'.
- Prevents procrastination: Breaking up your tasks and time into smaller chunks can make the work seem manageable, reducing distress, and procrastination.
- Manages perfectionism: Even though there is always room for improvement, time blocking helps us set concrete deadlines and accept what's been accomplished in that time as 'good enough'.
- Increases investment in personal goals: Time blocking ensures that we aren't putting off the tasks required to meet our personal goals for the future, but rather making these tasks a part of our current schedules.
Applying Time Blocking in Our Lives
Now that we know how time blocking can benefit us let us look at the first few steps required to integrate it into our lives.
- Create a weekly list of tasks: Start by noting all you have to complete in the upcoming week. This list should include work-related tasks and routine or personal tasks, such as meal preparations, doctor's appointments, etc.
- Develop a time blocking blueprint: After creating the weekly list, design a blueprint of your day based on how much time you devote to each task. Start by marking out everyday activities, such as morning routines, commute from work, etc. Then proceed by breaking up work tasks, adding them to your schedule, and setting a specific timeframe for each. Lastly, create some space for daily leisure, without overscheduling it.
- Mark tasks based on priority: Divide daily tasks based on whether they are high, medium or low priority, and consciously focus on the ones categorised as a high priority first.
- Keep room for flexibility: At times, we may face unexpected occurrences or underestimate the time required for a task. In such scenarios, finding workarounds can be helpful. Instead of having a very rigid schedule, consider keeping ample buffer time and treating a couple of tasks each day as flexible.
- Avoid multitasking: While many people may believe that they can multitask effectively, attempting to do multiple things at once can compromise our focus and engagement with each task. To successfully practise time blocking, avoid creating overlapping time blocks for activities so that you're able to give each job the investment it deserves.
Finally, try reminding yourself that just like with any other skill, you may falter while learning to use time blocking. Remember that patience, regular practice, and kindness can go a long way in turning this technique into a daily reality!