Time blocking is a method of laying out your day, taking into account your appointments. Then you can slot tasks in in order to give yourself an idea of what can be accomplished during the time given.
For years I resisted the idea of time blocking. It seemed to me to be awfully close to putting tasks into a calendar, which I believe is on the same plane as stealing a kid’s candy. But after months of working off a bulleted task list and consistently (100% of the time) picking too many tasks to attempt during the day, I knew I had to do something different. Then a chance podcast introduced me to time blocking.
Today we will look at how to time block and some common mistakes to avoid.
Why Time Block
Blocking time gives you an overview of your time commitments like nothing else. By filling in the blocks where you have appointments, you can see exactly what time remains to you to do other things.
Time blocking gives you a representation of your schedule that can be done in no other way. No list of appointments, nor empty blocks can help you see what you are committed to in the same was a time blocking.
How To Time Block
Time blocking is very simple. You write down numbers representing all the hours on the day down one side of a sheet of paper, and then write in your appointments next to them. You can do this on paper, with Excel, Word or any number of other softwares or templates.
Common Mistakes in Time Blocking
There are a few mistakes that are commonly made in timeblocking:
- Forgetting to include transition time. It takes time to move from one physical location to another. So if you have to be to work at 9 am and your commute is 30 minutes, you should leave the time between 8:30 and 9 for the commute.
- Scheduling every minute. Every schedule will have some variance, regardless of our best intentions. Leave some space for tasks that take too long. Use empty spaces as you wish if you do happen to have a day where nothing runs long. (And then email me and tell me how you managed to estimate everything so well)
- Underestimating task time. It is easy for us to think we can get more done in a time span than we actually can do. Make sure you are being as accurate as possible in your task time estimates.
- Letting everything slide. Things generally run long. But if you are going to make time blocking work, you need to start the next task at the time you chose. Otherwise you will have a cascade of late tasks that will end up in you cutting into your sleep. Not a good idea.
Don’t do time blocking in your calendar. Calendars are for fixed appointments, not projected plans.
Time blocking is an easy way to see what is on your schedule and add in tasks. It allows you to plan for what will happen given your free time.