What is time blocking, and who can use it?
Time blocking, also known as monotasking, is a time management tool that consists of adding each activity and its duration on the calendar. It is the practice of planning every hour of your day by giving each chore and responsibility its own time block.
When you fill your calendar with the tasks you have to complete, you leave no place for distraction and other time robbers. This way of scheduling allows you to improve your focus and increases your productivity. Even Elon Musk and Bill Gates use it.
Workplace communication and collaborations have risen by 50% in the last few years. Employees spend 80% of their time in meetings, responding to emails and messages, and collaborating with the team via Slack or a similar platform.
Those who want to take advantage of every minute of their time and skyrocket their output will see time blocking as a great opportunity because it:
- Prevents procrastination
- Enhances concentration
- Shows what you need to do efficiently and prioritises activities
- Saves time and effort during the workday
- Reduces distractions
- Provides specific times to respond to emails, make calls and relax.
For Carl Newport, author of Deep Work, 40 work hours blocked weekly produces the same results as 60 hours of an unstructured work week.
How to time block efficiently
Most people need a schedule to get things done, especially if they work remotely. If you are part of this vast majority, here are some tricks to time block in a productive and more flexible way:
Dedicate 10 to 20 minutes per day to time block your schedule.
Analyze your day
Grab a notion of the distractions that impact your time and block them.
Set achievable daily goals
When you know you can achieve them, you will be more motivated in fulfilling your daily commitments and responsibilities.
Set a time in the mornings to finish first those assignments that need your attention. By completing significant tasks on time, you will feel more productive.
Optimize your work environment
Arrange everything you need on your desk and in your workplace so that you won’t waste time searching for them when needed.
Connect with your innate
Dedicate a time block or several short ones for mindfulness practices during the workday. Their duration can be 10 to 15 minutes between tasks, and they will help you regain focus and motivation.
Schedule your breaks
Plan your daily interludes other than breakfast and lunch. You can also apply another time management strategy when blocking pauses, such as the Pomodoro method.
Write a to-do list Before time blocking, you need to know every task you must plan and do during the whole day.
Add time blocks for surprise tasks
Sudden chores always pop up unnoticed. Better to block time for tasks you have to respond to later. This gives your time schedule more flexibility.
Define your daily routine blueprint
Programming the basic tasks you do every day can set clear daily goals. For example, knowing you have to take the kids to school at 8 am or cook lunch from 11 to 11:30/12 will help you define your work hours and be more productive.
Best time blocking apps in 2021
When choosing a time blocking app, make sure it suits your lifestyle and your preference for simplicity. Good time blocking apps present the following features:
- Show your calendar alongside your to-do list
- Block an entire workday, filling every hour efficiently.
- Add new tasks by grabbing them from another app that you use
- Integrate with your current calendar—Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook—without issue.
The apps favoured by employees and remote workers in 2021 are:
- Google Calendar. The most well-known app, it’s perfect for project and appointment time blocks.
- Plan. Works great with a to-do list and integrates well with Google and Outlook calendars to transfer data.
- Planyway. An excellent app for teamwork that works along with Trello. Its unique task and project management system makes it accessible for remote workplaces.
- TickTick. This is a one of a kind app because it is designed with Pomodoro techniques to increase productivity.
- HourStack. Your ally for estimating how long each task takes you to complete versus how long it should take to help find a balanced duration.
- TimeBloc. It is dedicated to calculating productivity and setting repetitive tasks as routine. It arranges time blocks with a drag-and-drop feature.
You can be more efficient and enjoy your days if you know beforehand the responsibilities you have to fulfil. By planning every activity of the day, you increase your productivity by 80% and control your time in a stress-free way. With a clear time blocking plan (and app), you set the parameters to get the best juice out of your schedule and focus on the goals to achieve.