Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. The same amount of minutes, yet some people get so much more completed each day. Ever wonder, how some people achieve so much in a small space of time?
They are scheduling their time wisely. Effectively time blocking their day and then managing their time within the time blocks. So, how do you time block effectively and manage your time more efficiently?
Fortunately, many years ago, I had a good mentor who taught me about managing my workday with a simple system known as the five folder system. But, let’s not jump ahead to managing a block of time before we’ve looked at scheduling via time blocking for each day of the week.
What is time blocking?
Effectively time blocking is planing your calendar in blocks of time for your activities.
Let’s say you have lunch between 1pm – 2pm every day. You could block that time in your calendar for each day of the week.
If you work everyday the same time, you can block that time out.
For me, I don’t work the same time everyday so my blocks need to be flexible.
The same goes for walking, if you walk everyday at the same time, that time would be blocked in your calendar.
Time blocking is scheduling your daily activities, appointments, schedules, to dos in one place, your calendar or your journal.
I know we’re all busy working, living life or trying to as best as we can. I also know that no two days are the same. Whether you are a mum juggling kids activities, a shift worker or working from home. Every day is different. New activities to attend to, new projects and meetings. With every day so different, it is important to time block for each day of the week.
How to get started with time blocking?
The best way to get started is to know what you need to do that week. Just write everything done on a piece of paper that you need to do that week. Think of what your doing around your family, your work, for yourself, your goals.
List everything down, including any commuting, meals, fitness schedule, work schedule, going to appointments. Just list it all down. One long list can look scary. It doesn’t need to be.
There are so many obligations you may feel you need to do. At this point, it doesn’t matter how long the list is, just write everything down so you can start to plan your week.
Ensure that you have written up things you would like to do for yourself.
Naturally, you have goals you’d like to achieve too. Make them that part of your day too.
If you are unsure of your goals, the slay your goal planner can help you define them.
Related post: Guide to Life Goals with Core Value List.
Scheduling your time.
Now you have your list, you can start to schedule your time. You can do this in your diary, on a piece a paper, online in excel or in a productivity planner like Trello or Asana. Although I use Trello for a lot of my tasks, I personally like to use Google Calendars to schedule my time.
The advantage of using Google calendars is that the time blocks are easy to reschedule, the calendar can be shared and I have immediate access to it should any of my shifts change.
Choose what system is going to work for you. Google calendars, Excel, Trello, Asana, a time blocking app, a journal. What works for you and what you would use is the best system. It is Ok to change systems too. I’ve used excel, journals, trello and google calendars to schedule my time.
Why schedule with time blocks?
When you write a list you have a long list of things to do and it can be overwhelming. There is also no order to it. Moving your list to your calendar enables you to see how your spending your time and where you can batch tasks together. It also helps you see what you really can fit into your day.
The benefits of time blocking is that it enables you to keep to an agenda. If you honour it, that is! Time blocking helps you focus on the specific task or job for that time slot. It also enables you to prioritize tasks and say no to the things that are taking you away from your core goals and key projects.
By simply moving your ‘to dos’ from the list to the agenda they are more likely to get done. You also see what tasks can be batched together.
Batching a task could be going to the post office on the way home from work. Or maybe, checking the letterbox on the way to pick the children up from school.
For me today, it was timing the shopping around the time of being taxi mum. Saving time on multiple trips to the shopping centre.
How to schedule your time?
In your calendar create about 5 calendar settings. Give each calendar setting a title for that particular task. Also give each setting a colour. Colours look pretty and help your calendar stand out.
My 5 setting are;
- General Stuff – this is for things that I do around the home, for the household, for the family, commuting.
- Get Fit and Healthy – this is my exercise goals, meal planning, walking, meditation. SAVERS.
- Shift Work – work hours and work activities for my job.
- Lifestyle Anytime Blog – activities for blogging and Pinterest services.
- Study and Masterminding – personal development, calls and meetups.
When I first started time blocking. I started setting my calendar out in excel, not even realising it was called time blocking. I just planned my days that way.
When you start with scheduling your time it seems time consuming. Putting every little detail into the calendar. Start first with the basics and than add as you get used to it.
The basics maybe just putting in when you are at work, at the gym at meetings and meal times. Start with planing your main events, the key things on your list.
Scheduling your time within each block effectively.
Your list will have things to do that belong to a category that you have scheduled. For example writing a blog, belongs to Lifestyle Anytime Blog calendar, as does creating a graphic and website maintenance.
Therefore within you calendar start listing some of the things on your list under the calendar categories.
If you are stuck working out what goes on what list. Get sticky notes or use Trello and do the following;
- Create 5 title lists on a trello board or write up 5 post it notes with your life areas on.
- Write your ‘to do’ list up, each thing on a new trello card or new sticky note.
- Place the card or sticky note under the title category it belongs to.
The best way to schedule your time is to know your goals and what you require to prioritize to reach your goal. The one question I ask myself every day is “What 2 things can I do today to feel amazing and bring me closer to my goals? When I answer this questions, these 2 tasks get scheduled into the daily routine. They become priority for for the Lifestyle Anytime Blog category of my calendar.
As you write your list, if there are things you can delegate. Delegate. If you find you are moving things around in the week and not doing something. Delete it. It can’t be important.
Related post: 7 Simple Ways to Structure Your Day for Productivity.
Using the 5 folder system to complete tasks.
When I learnt the 5 folder system, I did not refer to it as time blocking. Yet that is exactly what it is. It is putting all your tasks into one of the time blocks and working on them only within that allocated time block. It is effective task blocking and time blocking combined.
Not too long ago I worked in real estate and had a real estate mentor for a brief period of time. This mentor taught me the 5 folder method for managing property as a property manger. The system really helped with staying on top of the ongoing duties of a property manager.
I realised how great the system was and started using it in other areas of my life like managing Scouts, study, and now blogging.
How to time block effectively using the 5 folder method as a blogger.
The more I blog, the more I realised there is so much to it. Because there is so much to blogging I began to realise there needed to be an effective way to mange the tasks. After listening to other bloggers I discovered the best way is to batch tasks together.
With blogging, batching tasks together could be designing all social media content for Pinterest at the same time.
Brain storming ideas to blog about and than research keywords for the blogs at the same time.
Writing blog headers for multiple blog posts.
Batching tasks can be a time saver. Therefore I have chosen to have 5 blog folders for blogging. As like you I need to prioritize my time wisely. The 5 folders I have set up at the time of writing this blog are;
- Writing Content and research.
- Graphics and Headlines.
- Website maintenance.
- Traffic, Social and Growth.
As I develop further as a blogger, my folders may change. I may delegate some tasks and take on other business blogging roles. Your chosen 5 folders are flexible.
Keep your eye on the time.
The object of time blocking is to be more focused and achieve more. This can only be done if you do not get distracted or bored with the task your doing. Therefore when working on projects be mindful of your time.
- Know your priorities and do that first
- Block out your time and use a timer like Toggl to track your time.
- Turn off all distractions. Only check your social media and return emails in the social media time slot. You’d be amazed how quickly time flies when you are looking at images on Pinterest or scrolling FaceBook or Instagram.
- Spend time on one block, move to another time block and then back to a block if you need to. This saves boredom and ensures each area is progressing.
- Schedule your time using the Pomodoro technique, where you schedule in 25 minute blocks and then have a 5 minute break. After four 25 minutes blocks, you have a 30 minute break.
- Make the most of your breaks and commute time. Read, focus on personal development in these times.
- Number 1, you are number 1. Ensure you schedule in time for you and your self care.
What to remember as you learn how to time block effectively.
Working efficiently requires planning and when you know how to time block effectively you will find that you accomplish more.
- Blocking out your time using categories for different life areas.
- Put your to do list tasks into those categories.
- Prioritize your list for each category.
- Ensure you take breaks.
- Remember YOU, plan your ‘Me’ time.
There are many methods for project and time management it is vital for you to find what works for you. Have you tried time blocking or what system works best for you?
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