Time block is something highly productive people do to have super productive days.
Elon musk and bill gates swear by time blocking as their secret to maximizing productivity each minute of the day.
And honestly, if you get to the end of the day and still have a long overwhelming to do list for the day. You probably need to start time blocking too.
It eliminates all that chaos of not knowing what to do, or knowing what to do, but not knowing where to start from. We all want to accomplish much through the day, but simply writing down stuff doesn’t cut it.
Time block definition
Time blocking is a time management technique that breaks your day into fixed units. Every second and every hour of the day is accounted for. It involves planning your day in advance and deciding what you will be doing every hour. This allows you to maximize time and actually stand a chance at conquering your todo list.
If it usually takes you 30 minutes to shower, you will then time block exactly 30 minutes to shower, and perhaps 30 more minutes to get dressed. Doing this helps you stick to time and not waste time while completing a simple task. This reminds me of a funny video I saw on tiktok.
Video Credit – queen.zayyyy
We all do this, there’s a lot of not actually working on a task going on while actually working on the task. But when you know this is exactly how long you have, somehow you are able to get things done in exactly that amount of time.
Is time blocking effective?
No matter how much we try to plan, it’s difficult accomplishing much without being good with time management. Time blocking is one of the easiest most effective time management systems you can implement in your life right now to start seeing results.
The whole goal of having a todo list is to get things done. But that doesn’t always happen.
A todo list is just a random list of suggested activities for the day. But when you put a timeline to it and allocate each task to a certain period of time, you actually get things done. It becomes so difficult to dismiss tasks, because you become hyper-aware of the time passing you by.
Here’s what some greats had to say about time blocking;
“A 40-hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.” — Cal Newport, author of Deep Work
The secret behind Elon Musk’s success is the 5-minute rule. From waking up in the morning to going to bed at night, the whole day’s musk is already planned. He divides the whole day into 5 minutes blocks (parts) of 5 minutes. – Source
“A plan is what, a schedule is when. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done.” – Peter Turla
“To do two things at once is to do neither.”- Publius Syrus
“The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.”- Mozart
Benefits of time block
Time blocking might seem so simple but it has so many benefits;
It makes you aware of how you spend your time
A lot of times we get to the end of day utterly confused at where the time has gone. Almost as though the day was on fast forward and you were barely able to complete one task. When you time block you become aware of exactly what you do with your time. If you spend an hour fixing breakfast today, you acknowledge it. If you spend 2 hours responding to emails today, you acknowledge it. Once you start to pay attention to how long you spend on each task, you realize you probably don’t need to spend all that time doing that one thing. Bringing me to my next point;
Time blocking eliminates procrastination
If you have exactly one hour to respond to emails, you will not spend 40 minutes thinking about responding to emails. You get right into it because again, refer to the previous tik tok video I posted. There’s only so much one can do to get a task done, sometimes it’s one simple step, but because we do a lot of procrastinating and stopping in between we end up spending so long on a single task. And if you don’t keep track of your time, then time will definitely get away from you. You get to the end of the day with a long todo list with one or two things checked off, feeling extremely unproductive.
This is what leaves you super busy through the day but not actually producing results.
It helps you tick off shallow work more efficiently
Shallow work could possibly be another form of procrastination. It’s the little work that needs to be done but doesn’t really move the needle further. You do them when you don’t really want to focus and do the deep work. You say to yourself, at least I am busy and not sitting idle. Well there is certain shallow work that you do, but are probably better off sleeping.
If you have certain hours in the day to get work done. Start with your deep focus work. Finish with your shallow work. Batching your shallow work in a dedicated time block ensures you only do those tasks in that specific period of time. Don’t spend the whole day doing things that will be of little or no value to your future self.
I have a book to recommend for people who never know what to do because it feels like there’s so much to do. This book really changed the way I plan and go through my 24 hours. It really helps you plan better, and not wake up in the morning wasting time on tasks that are not important.
It helps you determine your priority
The same way time blocking helps you identify shallow work and procrastination is the same way you are able to determine and focus on your priority. Time block is usually done in advance, this allows you time block your priority. You have the option of allocating more time to what is important and less to shallow work. The work thing is being extremely busy through the day, only to get through the day with absolutely nothing to show for.
Time block helps you stick to your goals
Time block helps you build a routine and commit. By time blocking and putting more priority on tasks that will move the needle further for you, you are definitely sure to reach your goals.
Studies have shown that planning and actually writing down your goals increases your chance of accomplishing them tremendously. – Forbes
From working out to eating well, humans are a lot more likely to act on their intentions when they have a specific date, time, and place to get it done. It provides clarity and all you’re left with is showing up and doing the work.
When you schedule your tasks you are a lot more likely to do them. Time blocking ensures you use that time for that specific time. If you stick to moving the needle one day at a time, you will get to your goals.
It helps eradicate perfectionism
“Perfection is the enemy of progress” – Winston Churchill
Need I say more?
When you spend so much time trying to achieve an idea in your head, you are wasting time. Sometimes it is a form of procrastination. You don’t want to get on to the next task that you just spend an endless amount of time doing absolutely nothing. I say nothing because that perfect exists only in your mind, and as long as it is only an image in your head, it can forever be unattainable. And maybe it is attainable but not important in moving the needle forward in your life.
If we are being completely honest, there is always progress to be made. Nothing is ever finished in life. It just needs to be good enough for you to move forward. There are always updated versions of everything; apps, cars, computers, phones…. If we all waited for perfection, we would not have mobile phones right now. There will always be room for improvement, that;s the beauty of t]life. You need to find the beauty in imperfection. By time boxing certain tasks, you will be able to limit the time you spend on them. That will enable you to accomplish more in a day.
It allows you become more efficient
Efficiency is truly the goal. All the points made come down to efficiency. You get to eliminate all the unnecessary tasks and focus on things that truly make a difference in your life.
How does time blocking work?
When time blocking, you need to be able to determine your priorities. It’s not just enough to create a list of things you think should be done and then shuffle them around through the day. I mean the first step is always to create a list, but that’s just step one. You then need to proceed and figure out your priorities. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your list and think everything is a priority, this is where the Eisenhower Matrix comes in. The Eisenhower Matrix allows you to group your tasks based on urgency and importance. Anytime I am feeling overwhelmed, it always comes in handy.
This is why the Eisenhower Matrix is the first available tool in our productivity tab in the 2022 full focus digital planner. It helps you eliminate distractions and tasks that may not need to be done today. Once your priorities are clear, you can then proceed to time block.
Time blocking variations
It is worth noting that there are various variations of time blocking, depending on the tasks at hand, you can choose to go with any of the time blocking techniques.
- Time blocking: You divide your day into different blocks, with each block dedicated to a task of its own. For example “write my thesis from 8:00 to 10:00 AM every day”.This is perfect for building a routine or working on ongoing projects. It allows you to make progress without putting much thought into it, considering it’s time reserved for a specific task every day.
- Task Batching: You create a block of time, but instead of specifying one task for the whole block, you allocate the time to a series of activities that fall under the same category. Eg, “I will design all my posts at 4:00 – 6:00 PM” This helps you get a lot done in a limited time, instead of completing each task differently, you just lump them into one. This is best done with smaller tasks.
- Day theming: This is similar to task batching but in a broader way. Day theming is when you look at your calendar and lump similar tasks together that may take a longer time to finish within a day. For example “Every Monday I will focus on content creation”. This way, every task that falls under content creation will be completed on Mondays.
- Time boxing: is very similar to time blocking, except with time boxing it is a one-time schedule. You set a limited time to complete a certain task. For example “I will take pictures between 04:00 – 06:00 PM tomorrow”
So, depending on the kind of tasks you have at hand, you pick a format that works for you. Or mix them up, day theme some days, and time block some tasks. Works perfectly fine for me and it has made a huge difference in my productivity.
Time block example
Here are examples of the different variations of time blocking;
Time blocking, Task batching and time boxing all look the same on paper. The difference is in how you group the tasks as explained earlier.
Day theming looks a little different from Time blocking, Task batching, and time boxing. You can day theme using the month calendar or weekly calendar. Whatever works for you, but this is what it should look like.
How to create a time block schedule, step by step
Follow each step to create the perfect time block routine for you.
Create a List
The first step is creating a list. Write down everything you think needs to get done. You can make this list based on a day’s task or a week’s task.
Ideally this list should come from your goals. The things you should do on a day to day should be things that will help move you further to your annual goal. We don’t do things aimlessly here, in case you don’t have your goals set for the year, don’t worry, I got you. Set your goals for the year here.
Determine your priorities
Moving on, after you create your list, it is time to determine what your priorities are. As mentioned earlier, you cannot possibly do everything, and some things are just not as important as you think. Use the Eisenhower Matrix to help you set your priorities.
Pick a time block variation
Once you have your priorities clearly listed out. You then pick a time block variation that works well for each task. You may find you might have to apply 2 to 3 styles of time blocking. These variations have been explained with examples.
Depending on your tasks, you group and block out time accordingly. You can use the day theme method if you have so many similar tasks to complete. You can task batch or time box. But this is where you actually block out all those hours and leave nothing to chance.
Protect your time
Once you have time blocked and every hour is accounted for, make sure you protect your time. Yes, sometimes life can be unpredictable, but as best as you can protect your time. Do not take on tasks that can wait during your time blocked hours. Let your family and friends know you are busy during certain hours of the day. Put your phone on dnd if you have to.
This is important because there is almost no point in planning if you cannot set aside the time to do the things you have planned to do. Reduce interruption as best as you can. Trust me, almost everything can wait. Return the call later, respond to the email later. A call interrupting your deep focus time can cost you 10-15 minutes to regain that focus back and concentrate on your work as you were. If you read the book I recommended earlier “the one thing”, you will also understand the importance of completing important tasks before other tasks that are just time fillers.
Time blocking planner
If efficiency is the goal for you, then our 2022 full focus planner is the one for you. Let’s take your planning to the next level. Time block, task batch, and day theme with this planner. You get to not only plan your entire year, but you can also plan out your entire month, and then break them down to weekly plans, and eventually daily tasks.
Depending on the type of tasks you have, you can choose a time blocking variation that works best for you. All our daily pages are broken down into hours. This allows you to plan your days accordingly and make every hour accounted for. Being accountable for all your hours does not mean working 24/7. It just means you are aware of what you spend your time on. You can schedule in your chill days or Netflix binge watch sessions. Time blocking just enables you to know what exactly you do with your time.
If you believe you need more rest, then you get to schedule that in and be intentional about it. If you think you need to be producing more results in your work, it means you need to timeblock more time to produce more.
Get your 2022 full focus planner here, and start setting goals. Be intentional about your life, because no one lands at success by accident.
Being busy all the time isn’t fun either, have some you time, family time, relationship time, and travel time. Live your life exactly the way you want it, not just however it turns out. You can be in charge of your life.