The benefits of time blocking
Do you ever feel like you’ve been really busy, but at the end of the day you still don’t feel like you’ve achieved anything? Do you find you easily get distracted and before you know it, it’s 11am and all you’ve done is answered a few emails and scrolled through social media?
Time blocking can help you focus and prioritise your work and help you achieve your goals.
What is time blocking?
Remember how your school timetable was a schedule for how you spent your time during school hours, even your breaks and lunchtime? This made sure that not only did you spend a certain amount of time on each subject, you also had dedicated breaks: both of which are of equal importance.
Time blocking is very similar in that you divide your day into dedicated blocks of time where you are either working on specific tasks or taking a break.
This may all sound quite regimented to some of you, but here are the benefits of time blocking:
1. Time blocking cuts out the ambiguity.
Most of us don’t respond well to ambiguity. When tasks or deadlines are vague we are more inclined to put them on the back-burner and work on something with immediate results. For example, responding to emails may give you that immediate sense of achievement, but are they going to help you achieve your goals for the day?
Blocking out your diary for specific tasks helps you focus on what you need to do and when you need to do it. Make sure you are as detailed as you can be with your time blocking. For example, putting something like invoicing 9-10am and credit control 10-11am is much more specific than just “Finance 9-11am.”
2. Time blocking helps you plan
Time blocking forces you to plan your day or week ahead and think realistically about how much time you have. If you have a week full of meetings you might want the following few days back at your computer to catch up with other tasks.
3. Time blocking can increase productivity
Flitting from one task to another whilst dealing with distractions can be extremely unproductive. Time blocking is the opposite of multitasking. It lets you focus on one task at a time. There are no distractions interrupting your train of thought. (Did you know some reports claim it takes on average 23 minutes to regain focus after a distraction?) Therefore you should be able to work through your to-do list quicker.
Also, do you have something on your to-do list that you keep meaning to do but never get round to it? Don’t keep letting it slide, schedule it in, get it done. Move on.
4. Time blocking can increase well-being
Are you guilty of working into the late hours or weekends? How many events or activities have you missed because of work? There is truth in the saying ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ It probably makes him a very unproductive and unhappy boy as well.
Time blocking doesn’t have to be exclusive to your work, it’s about ensuring you have time dedicated to do the tasks that you need to or want to do. That includes time with friends, family, hobbies, or anything that is important to you. You can use it to help you achieve a healthy work life balance. When blocking out your time, make sure you include your breaks, your down time, your hobbies.
5. Time blocking can highlight your activities and priorities
After a full time blocked week, review how you spent it. Did you under or overestimate how long certain tasks take? Did you achieve more or less during this week? It might highlight that you spend too long on certain tasks that distract you from your core activities. Rather than wondering where the time went, time blocking can help you quantify what you actually achieved.