Do you ever finish your day and realize you were busy but can’t answer this question: “what did I accomplish?”
Fortunately, I found the perfect solution, and am going to share it with you right now.
So you get sh#t done, even if you:
- Juggle many different projects/responsibilities
- Spend a lot of time answering calls, emails, and putting out fires
- Deal with constant interruptions and shiny buttons
- Wish you had more time and mental space for big-picture thinking
I would like to introduce you to my favorite productivity technique, TIME BLOCKING.
You’ve probably heard of time blocking… it’s a time management method where you divide your day into blocks. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task or group of tasks, and only those specific tasks.
When your days are time blocked in advance, you won’t have to continually choose what to focus on (goodbye decision fatigue!).
If you get off-task or distracted, look at your schedule and get back to whichever task you blocked off.
Boom. You’re productive.
Now let’s meet time blocking’s cousins: Task Batching and Day Theming.
Time Blocking Option #1: Task batching
Task batching is when you group similar (usually smaller) tasks and schedule specific time blocks to complete all at once. By tackling similar tasks in a group, you’ll limit the amount of task-switching you have to do throughout your day, saving precious time and mental energy.
Did you know?
It takes 20 minutes to refocus after task switching
Here are some tasks I like to batch together:
- Social media
- Paperwork, such as bookkeeping
Time Blocking Option #2: Theme Days
Day theming is a more extreme version of task batching for people who have many areas of responsibility competing for their attention. For example, as an entrepreneur, I have to pay attention to marketing, sales, product development, customer support, and HR all at the same time. Instead of setting aside time blocks for each area of responsibility each day, I set up a full day each week for each duty.
Here’s how I use day theming in my business:
- Monday- Marketing and Business Development
- Tuesday- Networking
- Wednesday- Client calls
- Thursday- Client work
- Friday- Finance and Admin
- Saturday- Free Time
- Sunday- Rest and Weekly Prep
Why is time blocking so effective?
Time blocking helps you spend less time on busywork (answering emails) and more time on focused, high-impact tasks (planning your next launch).
Will time blocking work with my job?
One of the biggest criticisms of time blocking is that it doesn’t account for reactive jobs where it’s impossible to anticipate what will come in at any given moment. Is time blocking a realistic strategy for a customer support specialist whose job is to respond to tickets? Or an account manager who needs to be available to respond to client requests? YES!
In these situations, a workday ramp up and wind down are a perfect solution. It might look like this:
Morning Ramp Up (60 min):
- Respond to emails 30 min
- Check Social Media 15 min
- Check-in with team 10 min
- Review tasks for the day 5 min
End of Day Wind Down:
- Respond to emails 45 min
- Tidy desk 10 min
- Check out with team 5 min
Here’s how to prevent some common time blocking boo boo’s:
1. Time blocking should be a relief, not a stressor, so block off too much time for tasks, especially at first. Then refine as you go along. Trust me on this one.
2. Stay chill: Things will come up. And when that happens, remember you have planned your calendar to help focus on what’s important; it’s not a binding contract.
Pro tip: Studies have shown that scheduling leisure activities decrease overall enjoyment, so schedule time to relax without a set plan for how you’ll spend that time.
Because who knows, you might feel like cocktails with the girls, or going home to put on your Time To Wine Down Jammies and reading Court of Thorns and Roses while you cuddle with your mini doodle (too specific?).
Here’s a 6-minute video on how I use Trello (a free project management tool) to help organize my days, so I can keep my mind free for more important things, like growing my business.