Millions have found success with time blocking, but is it the right time management technique for you?
Time blocking has been around for decades, if not centuries, but it’s getting renewed attention as TikTok’s hottest time management trend.
In fact, the hashtag #timeblocking has garnered over 3.1 million views on the video-sharing platform within recent months, according to USA Today.
Time blocking is popular because it’s a simple yet effective time management technique that anyone with a calendar can use. However, there are a few tricks to getting started. So, before you start blocking, read through this primer.
What is Time Blocking?
Time blocking is a visual time management technique experts say can be helpful for those who constantly feel burned out or overwhelmed.
It’s a simple strategy that involves dividing your calendar into blocks of time with each block representing a different task or group of tasks.
“The purpose of this method is to visualize pre-planned tasks on your calendar to make them seem more manageable and less daunting,” says Jason Drake, lead clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, in his interview about this TikTok phenomenon with USA Today.
The key to mastering time blocking is prioritization.
- Take stock of what’s coming up in the days and weeks ahead and create a to-do list.
- Prioritize your to-do list.
- Based on your list, start a rough draft of your time blocks for each day.
- At the end of every workday review any leftover tasks plus new work.
- Incorporate unfinished work and new tasks into your schedule and adjust your time blocks accordingly.
More Than a To-Do List
At first glance, time blocking may seem like a glorified to-do list, but it’s actually a much more effective time management strategy. Unlike to-do lists, which only tell you what to do, time blocking also tells you WHEN to do it. So instead of constantly making choices about what to focus on all you need to do is follow your time-blocked schedule.
Time Blocking Basics
1. Block Your Day the Night Before
Do you spend the first half-hour or so of your workday getting organized and trying to figure out what you should do first? If so, then start planning your day the night before.
Toward the end of the workday, while you’re still in productivity mode, start planning or time blocking for the following day. This will give your day more structure and flow, and as a result, your productivity will increase.
Once you’ve made time blocking a habit, add a slightly longer session to Friday evenings to plan out the following week.
“The purpose of this method is to visualize pre-planned tasks on your calendar to make them seem more manageable and less daunting.”
2. Begin With a List of Priorities
Start by blocking out time for the non-negotiables, like any meetings you have scheduled. Then move on to your most important tasks. This way, they don’t get muscled out by minor things.
If you tend to treat your calendar like a game of Tetris, start by making a brain-dump to-do list. Just put everything you can think of on there. Next, highlight your three most essential items. From there, you can rank everything else, but you now know what to block time for first.
3. Track Your Time
If you have trouble estimating how long it takes you to complete a given task, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, time-blindness can derail the best-laid time management plans.
If you haven’t already been tracking your time, it will take some trial and error before you figure it out. In the meantime, give your best estimate and add 15 minutes.
As you go through your first week or two of time blocking, track how much time things take and adjust the next day’s blocks accordingly.
Decide in advance what you will do if you have extra time at the end of a block. Maybe you’ll take a short walk, read for a few minutes, or move on to the next task because you’re in the flow.
Remember to block time for mental and physical breaks, so you don’t burn out.
Is Time Blocking the Right Strategy for You?
Ultimately, the best time management technique is the one that works for you. The most important thing is that you have a strategy in place otherwise you risk developing burnout. That being said, millions of people have found success with time blocking, especially folks impervious to other time management strategies.
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