In 2022, we may find ourselves pondering how life used to be and whether our work routines will ever go back to how they were. Some of us feel that we used to get a lot more done back in the day, and many of us have struggled to maintain our mental well-being while remaining productive at work. It's more important than ever to balance our work lives with our personal lives.
Remote work poses many challenges, and without a concrete strategy, it can be easy to get bogged down. By time blocking your schedule, you can better manage your daily workload and prioritize your mental and physical well-being.
What exactly is time blocking?
Time blocking is an agile project management tool that has been around for centuries. It involves dividing your day into sections and dedicating each section to a specific task. Influential thinkers, from Stoic philosophers to Benjamin Franklin and Elon Musk, have attributed their success to time blocking.
For example, as an inventor, diplomat, and writer, Franklin found it useful to assign each hour of the day to specific tasks. His autobiography includes a simple, time-blocked schedule that emphasizes his commitment to consistency and efficiency. There is no doubt that a well-organized life aided him in his achievements.
Today, Elon Musk uses a similar method to prioritize his daily responsibilities. In order to manage major companies like Tesla and Space X, as well as devote time to The Boring Company and Open AI, he follows a strict schedule. According to a 2015 biography, Musk also spends four days a week with his five children. An effectively time-blocked schedule allows him to tackle his typical work week while balancing other important duties.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates also practices time blocking. As the founder and chairman of several companies, including BEN, Cascade Investment, bgC3, and TerraPower, Gates relies on a tightly regimented routine. He also puts his well-being first by scheduling "Think Weeks," which he takes twice a year.
Here are five reasons why you should give time blocking a shot:
Reason 1: Prioritize your work load
Let's say you have a project due by the end of the week, but you also have a new assignment that requires your attention. By blocking out your schedule, you can organize your work and determine which tasks to complete. When you know where to place the time block, your daily workflow becomes visual and intuitive, meaning you can get the right tasks done at the right time.
Reason 2: Communicate and collaborate more effectively
These days, shared work schedules are the norm. When you block out your time on a shared calendar, your colleagues can easily determine which time slots will work best for collaboration. This not only encourages you to plan and organize your work but also enables you to accommodate others' schedules.
Reason 3: Track your progress
Perhaps you've found that weeks can go by and you're not even sure what you've accomplished. With a detailed calendar, you can quickly reference past projects, meetings, and achievements. This gives you a comprehensive record of your workflow and allows you to take account of your progress. You can also reflect on your current time-blocking strategies and tweak the approach for greater success.
"It’s not real until it’s in the calendar." — Tim Ferris
Reason 4: Improve long-term productivity
Parkinson’s law tells us that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Most of us would concede that we procrastinate or draw out projects when presented with a deadline. Disciplined time blocking allows us to apply sensible, finite time constraints to our daily tasks. For instance, if you typically complete a project over a couple of days, you may find that you can complete the same project in a single, focused, time-blocked day. In that case, time blocking just helped you double your productivity.
Reason 5: Take control of your time
Your time is valuable. If you battle constant, self-imposed interruptions during the day, time blocking can help you regain control of your workflow. When used in this way, time blocking is about more than just productivity. It can contribute to better mental health and ensure you prioritize an appropriate work-life balance.
Pro Tip: As you get started with time blocking, keep the following in mind:
- Try time blocking for 30 days to see if it fits your needs.
- Dedicate a time slot in your calendar for reviewing your upcoming tasks for the week.
- Block an hour a day for your well-being. This can be your time to meditate, read, or simply relax.
- Make the most of your meetings by carving out time slots to prepare and debrief.
- If there is a time block that you cannot fulfill, don't fret. Remain flexible and continue forward.
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