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Productivity

The Ultimate Guide to Time Blocking: What it is and How it Can Benefit You

We all know how valuable our time can be as a resource, and it seems like we never have enough of it, at work or at home. Being able to manage time effectively is one of the most important life skills we can develop,and part of this skill is being able to use effective time management techniques and solutions to stop the sands in the hourglass from draining away before we get all the things we need to done. Using a time keeping app is certainly the first step towards understanding how we spend out time. Once we do, the right time management worksheet can let us organise and spend our time more efficiently. You might find a time blocking schedule to be just the tool you need to find time to accomplish all the tasks you need to get done in a given day.

What is Time Blocking?

The essence of time blocking as a time management strategy is to break down your day into time block and assign specifically how you will use each of those blocks. Breaking your day into smaller segments and knowing exactly which tasks you need to accomplish within the time frame of a given block allows you to put greater focus on managing your time and prevents time wastage. You can give yourself clear and achievable targets to focus on while you work as you can assign certain tasks to be completed within a given time block, allowing you to create sense of urgency while you work and accomplishment as you complete each time block.

How Does Time Blocking Work?

While ultimately the exact specifics of how you set up your time blocks and how you assign the time in those blocks is a matter of personal preference, but there are some general ‘rules of engagement’ you should keep inconsideration.

First, it’s important not to let your time blocks be too big– you time blocking schedule needs to be established in way in which you can make accurate estimate on what you can get done within each block. A set of blocks which are overly large will increase the number of things you are assigning yourself to do within a given block. You could find yourself halfway through a block realising that you have far too much to get done in your time remaining, causing yourself stress as well as causing your productivity to dive rather than rise.

Alternatively, it would also be a mistake to make your time blocks exceedingly small. This would create a situation where you have a number of time blocks in your workday which seems never-ending, leave you often without the necessary amount of time in a given block to make sure you can actually complete the work assigned to it, and create a mental environment where it seems like your workload is never ending and you are struggling to accomplish anything of significance.

Consider the tasks which comprise of a normal workday for you and try to figure out a length of time which you think is suitable to get the entirety of a task accomplished. Finding the right time block length for your workload will let you accomplish meaningful tasks during the day without you feeling burnt out. Rather, you will have the appropriate time to refresh and refocus your mental energy onto the next task. Your blocks should feel something like a race – the finish line should feel both attainable and like a genuine accomplishment.

What Are the Benefits of Time Blocking?

1.      You’ll be more organised

Using time blocks lets you stay on top of your organisation, preventing you from forgetting tasks or feeling unsure of what to do next. A good time blocking schedule will double not only as a time management/productivity tool but also a general day planner. Being able to see with a quick glance everything you have on your plate for a given day is a benefit which could easily be overlooked.

2.      You’ll Have Goals to Strive For

Having goals and putting just a little bit of time pressure on yourself can be a hugely positive thing for your productivity levels. While you will want to be careful not to stress yourself out, you’ll likely find that the sense of accomplishment from achieving a time sensitive target is incredible motivating and will improve your productivity as well as you general work mentality.

3.      You’ll Stay Mentally Fresh

Breaking down your day into blocks stops the day from dragging long and lets you feel like you are starting and finishing a number of things rather than being just ‘working’ for eight hours. That sense of completing a given time block will allow you to mentally reset yourself.Assign a 5 minute coffee break between time blocks to refresh and get ready to reapply yourself for the next block.

Looking for Time Blocking Software?

There are a number of time blocking tools available for you to try out online, from simple tools that add blocks to your existing calendar to premium apps which look at providing you with a schedule based on your priorities or on specific techniques like the Pomodoro technique.

Plan is a simple and easy to use choice which integrates with your Google or Outlook calendar and allows you to quickly organise your existing projects into relevant blocks, and is free when using only one or two integrations.

TickTick is great for those interested in using the Pomodoro technique, offering a Pomodoro timer in addition to the standard calendar-like blocking and organisational charting. For those truly invested in using Pomodoro’s to maximise their productivity, this may be the best option available.

For those who use Trello as their go to project management tool, Planyway may be the right option for your time blocking needs. Planyway’s integration with Trello will allow you to manage your time blocks without having to leave the Trello app, saving you the hassle of navigating multiple applications to accomplish your planning.

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