What is Time-Blocking?

a planner spread illustrating the time blocking method

What is Time Blocking?

Time blocking, at its core, is the art of dedicating specific chunks of time to particular tasks or activities. In a world where multitasking reigns supreme, time blocking is a strategic method of focusing on one thing at a time. But why should you consider implementing this into your routine, and how can you do it effectively?

Why should I use time blocking?

Studies have shown that our brains aren't as good at multitasking as we might like to think [1]. Juggling multiple tasks can lead to decreased efficiency and increased mistakes.

Alternatively, time blocking can encourage deep work, focus, and give us a blueprint of what our day might look like.

What are the benefits?

  • Improved Focus: By dedicating blocks of time to single tasks, you minimize the distractions of other pending tasks, allowing for deeper concentration.
  • Clearer Priorities: Time blocking forces you to assess and decide what's truly important, ensuring that essential tasks get the attention they deserve.
  • Reduced Procrastination: Knowing that a specific time is set aside for a task can act as a commitment, nudging you to start.
  • Enhanced Work-Life Balance: By effectively segmenting work tasks, it becomes easier to allocate time for relaxation and personal activities.

close up of planner spread with time blocking

How do I Block my Time in my planner?

Your time can be blocked with these simple steps:

  1. Start with Big Rocks: Identify your main tasks or priorities for the week. These are your 'big rocks'. Schedule them first. Make these visible. Use markers, highlighters, or stickers to show how much time your large tasks will take. Don't add more than three large tasks that you have to complete and try to keep your schedule as simple as possible!

  2. Fill in Smaller Tasks: Once your primary tasks are scheduled, find gaps for smaller tasks. Think of these as the 'sand' that fills spaces between rocks.

  3. Allocate Breaks: Don't forget to schedule short breaks to rest and recharge. This can prevent burnout and maintain consistent productivity. Breaks are linked to better well-being [4].

  4. Review and Adjust: At the end of the week, review what worked and what didn't. Adjust your time blocks accordingly for the next week.

The Power of Self-awareness, Self-compassion, and Monitoring

Self-awareness: Periodically check-in on your thoughts and feelings. Set an hourly alarm during work sessions. When it rings, note down your current activity and state of mind. This introspection can refocus your efforts and boost productivity [2]

Self-compassion: Remember, everyone has off days. Instead of self-criticism, adopt an understanding and gentle internal dialogue. Dr. Kristin Neff's research indicates that self-compassion can increase productivity and resilience [3].

Monitoring Time: Understand the real-time tasks take. Use a timer or stopwatch separate from your smartphone to track the duration of tasks. This isn't about rushing but about building an accurate sense of time's passage.

planner spread containing an example of time blocking

Reading next

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How Can Planners Improve Your Life? - Hemlock & Oak

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