If you have wondered about the basics of the productivity technique time blocking, or timeblocking, this is a quick introduction.
In This Post
I cover the following in this blog post:
- The Meaning Of Time Blocking
- Time Blocking And Batch Work
- No Multitasking
- Testing, Testing…
- Thematic Days
- Time Blocking Challenges
- The Randoms And Unknowns
- Time Blocking A Whole Week
- Time Blocking Tweaked
- Wrapping Up
1. The Meaning Of Time Blocking
Time blocking is best approached from the noun block, or time block, as in a chunk of time.
A time block can be as long or short as you want, and it can be put in your calendar where you want it to be.
The action then is called time blocking, as in “blocking off time” for specific, similar to each other tasks.
2. Time Blocking And Batch Work
Time blocking is ideal for batch work, or batching. This refers to the act of doing a repetitive single task for a specified time span.
In content creation for content marketing of a business, this could be the writing of text for more than one post for social media, the preparation of more than one image for future blog posts, or the editing of more than one podcast episode in one sitting.
2.1 No Multitasking
No matter the tasks chosen, as long as our brains interpret the activities as similar, single-tasking like this increases productivity.
Multitasking, the jumping from one task to the next before finishing the first one, has been shown to be inefficient.
There is always a cost to switching to a new task, so in order to get as much done as possible within a specific time frame, it is indeed better to choose some repetition.
Going with a blog post as example, instead of creating one post from start to finish, you would instead pick a few posts. Their texts might be too long to finishin one sitting, but images can easily be prepared for blog and social media in a batch, which in the calendar would be one block.
2.2 Testing, Testing…
It is obviously individual how quickly we become bored, so instead of just dismissing batch work, I recommend trying to find a personal sweet spot first between “not enough” and “too much”.
Once you find out, this could be a regularly recurring time block in your calendar, whether daily, weekly or less often.
Not that the idea of a time block is to work on something you know you can finish during the allocated time for said block.
2.3 Thematic Days
You can take it a step further still to build thematic days such as Monday for admin work and course content, Tuesday-Thursday for client work, and Friday for blog and other images, or light filler content to social media.
This analytical approach to your work stems in knowing yourself. When is a good time for the most demanding work, and when do you need something simple?
3. Time Blocking Challenges
As with most other productivity techniques, time blocking isn’t perfect. The idea stems in knowing what needs to get done and how long it will take.
3.1 The Randoms And Unknowns
However, if there are random single tasks hanging around, or you are about to introduce something new, unmeasured still, these other tasks don’t lend themselves to be blocked as they are.
A way to deal with this is to create a specific time block during the week for tackling these various loose ends.
As for section 2.2 “Testing, Testing…” above, when facing new task types, you could set aside a block for timing yourself. Maybe you won’t finish everything then, but at least your data set on time spent will increase.
3.2 Time Blocking A Whole Week
A final, and for me personally, massive challenge is the fact that in its original implementation in modern days, you are supposed to block a week at a time. This means planning in rather great detail all working days from start to finish.
What usually happens to me, though, is that for some unexpected development I inevitably fall off the wagon. This feels like a failure of planning, even when the external reason is perfectly logical.
In my opinion, that isn’t how productivity techniques are supposed to affect us, but I still think there are many positives to time blocking in particular.
4. Time Blocking Tweaked
When something isn’t quite working, even when many elements are functional, I like to start tinkering with a productivity technique. This is at the heart of improving business processes, and as such sustainable economic development. Huge fan!
My one and only question at this point is: “Why insist on doing something in a particular way just because someone else said so?”
Time blocking can still be time blocking, if you do it in reverse so to speak.
Recently, I am experimenting with writing a to-do list first, which then gets estimated times added to each, and finally put in that day’s schedule.
One day at a time in other words. And no overwhelm from having to commit to all five days at once. It definitely decreases a general sense of always being behind.
Again, this is not how time blocking traditionally is done, but I am of the opinion that whatever gets the job done is great in the end. No one has to know either, unless you insist on sharing intricate details of how you move work forward.
5. Wrapping Up
This is a quick intro with conversation to go on time blocking. There is a lot more written on various blogs, by people, who are far more invested in this particular productivity technique.
If your curiosity has been piqued, there are luckily many more examples to be found online of how people are using it in practice.
Have you tried time blocking yet? Or is it your go-to technique? Share in the comments below!
Photo credit: Windows.