This one productivity tip has saved my career more than once!
It's not about being busy, it's about being productive. This is the productivity tip everyone NEEDS!
Being "productive" and not just "busy" can be a real challenge.
Not too mention, if you are trying to manage your job, your family, and a side hustle, it can seem impossible to do.
That's why you need the right strategy.
The one question I get from multiple clients is:
My best advice? Set a timer and START.
As simple as it may seem, it's actually coined time blocking.
Time blocking simply an organizational method to help keep you accountable and focused. It will help you make the most of the time you have.
Stick through this short article and you'll learn:
- Why time blocking is important.
- How to schedule your day around time blocking.
- A list of INCREDIBLE apps to help you!
Considering some sources say we don't have more than a 10-minute concentration window, utilizing time blocking the right way can do wonders for everyone's day.
YOU LACK FOCUS
A lack of focus seems to be the issue for most people. When they have time, they spend it the wrong way.
With electronics, fast pace careers, and modern media, we have things fighting for our attention at a constant rate. If you want to really know what I mean...
I encourage you to time yourself once.
The amount of time you spend mindlessly browsing your devices will surprise you. So although we may seem busy, we aren't productive.
SO HOW DO WE BECOME FOCUSED?
By setting limits, practicing self-discipline, and starting.
Or more simply put, use a timer!
Set your timer for a designated period of concentration.
- no cell phone
- shut your door
- put on some focus music
Treat that time period like it's sacred.
Than schedule in occasionally breaks. This is where you can get up, walk around, check your phone, and get ready to work again.
So why use "time blocking" and not other productivity strategies? Because:
- It adds structure and organization to your week
- Allows you to set small and achievable goals to help drive motivation
- Provides accountability for you and your work
- Eliminates distraction
- Allows you to identify your priorities
- Allows for efficient reflection of work
- Less stress
- Increased productivity (reaching the end goal!)
I have found even blocking 15 minutes for house chores every day makes cleaning a much easier task throughout the week (and who doesn't have 15 minutes to spare?)
HOW TO GET STARTED
1. Find Your Most Important Task and Block it Off
- Determine which projects are the most time sensitive and set your day around accomplishing those projects. If it needs to get done on the same day, you'll be time blocking until it's finished.
- Build your day REALISTICALLY around the most important tasks
For example - I have an article that needs to be written by 4. My schedule may reflect hourly intervals from 10 until 4 on that single task with intermittent breaks:
- 10 - 10:45 Article
- 10:45 - 11:00 Take care of bills
- 11:00 - 11:45 Article
- 11:45 - 1:00 - Walk/Gym/Me Time
- 1:00 - 1:45 Article
I set a timer for every 45 minute time period (you can use whichever time interval you prefer)
If I get the article done early, I brainstorm for the next one. If no article is due, I set that time aside for social media, etc...
On days when no articles are due, I can set the interval blocks with varying tasks.
2. Set a Timer
Find your preferred timing device (whether it be an app, stopwatch, or clock).
Personally, I find blocking off minutes rather than hours to work the best. For example, I have found my concentration is limited to a 45-minute period. However, many people prefer the pomodoro method, which is 25 minute concentration window followed by 5 minute breaks.
I track all of this with a timer.
3. Eliminate Distractions
Put away that phone, close your Facebook page, and don't be distracted! Time blocking doesn't work if you are breaking every five minutes to respond to a text or check your Facebook.
4. Stay Consistent
The key to successfully using time blocking is also being consistent. That doesn't mean blcoking off one period and forgetting about the rest of the day.
It means structuring your day, every day. It means setting aside a designated period where you focus on building your side hustle (or any other project you want to do) and putting aside everything else.
5. Organization Goes a Long Ways
The more organized your day is, the more productive time blocking will be.
TIME BLOCKING TIPS
MAKE TIME BLOCKS REALISTIC
A.K.A. know your limits. I will never "block off" a task for a 3 hour period. Why? Because I can't stay focused for that long of period, therefore I'd already be setting myself up for failure.
I'm also not going to set up my day up for 30 different things.
It takes time for a habit to form. Make small variations when necessary but try to be consistent.
You can read my article on how to create habits and achieve goals right here.
USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
Find an app, planner, or notebook to stay organized and accountable.
Apps I recommend include:
- Trello: My FAVORITE organizational desktop and mobile app. It's the most beautiful version sticky notes you'll ever see!
- Wunderlist: Another great 'to-do list' tool that allows you to set deadlines and check off accomplishments!
- CoSchedule: Article, blog post, and social media organization all in one. Not as simple as Trello, but has many more features.
- Focus Keeper: Keeps track of 25 minute work intervals for you!
- Asana: A lot like CoSchedule - an all-in-one organizational tool.
- Brain.FM: Interval music to help you focus!
Check out my post: 10 Productivity Apps that Will Transform Your Day to learn more about my favorite apps.
Time Blocking is a great way to force yourself to work. It helps to keep you focused, prioritized, and productive. However, It's what you make it. If you aren't going to put away distractions and stick to your schedule, it won't work for you.
At the very minimum, I recommend you set at least a 15 minute timer when you are struggling for motivation. It's not only a great way to test the method, but also kick starts your work period and keeps you accountable. It's also the first step in time blocking your entire day.
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You can find all of my posts here.
Which time management strategies do you use? Have you tried time blogging? Does it work for you?