Recently, I began trialling the ‘Time Blocking’ or ‘Time boxing’ time management technique.
Time Blocking is
The practice of setting aside a fixed amount of time for each task and integrating the resulting time blocks into your schedule.
If you are not familiar with time blocking, here are a couple of resources for you:
Jordan Page: The “Block Schedule” System – LIFE CHANGING productivity hack!
Thomas Frank: “Timeboxing: Elon Musk’s Time Management Method”
If you are familiar with this time management system and you are looking for some guidance for getting started with time blocking, you are in the right place. Sit down, get out a notebook and take some notes. Here are my top tips for getting started with time blocking.
1. Don’t get caught up in paid apps
When I first started looking into Time Blocking, I thought a time blocking app would be the best way to manage my time and stay on top of my schedule. But I quickly discovered that all of the best time blocking apps will also suck your bank account dry. They also often don’t do exactly what you want them to; it is very hard to come across the perfect time blocking app.
2. Time blocking with Google Calendar
I created a new google calendar specifically for time blocking. To do this, I first created an Excel spreadsheet, to map out my days and create an initial schedule template. After this, I blocked out time for all of my daily tasks in Google Calendar and set a reminder for each so that I would get a notification on my phone every time I need to change tasks.
As a time blocking example, here is a little snapshot of my blocked-out weekday mornings so you get the idea of my system.
This is the best way I have found for flexible time blocking and easy integration with the Google Suite. And it’s free!
3. Make sure your schedule is flexible and manageable, so you have less reason to stray from it.
Block your time out with the understanding that every day is different, things will pop up that you didn’t plan for and sometimes something may take a bit longer to complete than expected.
4. If you plan your days too granularly, you will find that you can’t keep up with your own schedule and you will quickly drop it. If you keep your blocks more broad e.g. ‘homework’ instead of ‘English Homework’, and give yourself more time in each block, you may find it easier to maintain.
Remember Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you allocate more time to a specific task, you will more likely achieve more. If you allocate small time slots, you won’t give yourself the opportunity to settle into the task and really engage in what you are doing.
5. Set aside time to complete unexpected tasks or tasks that you may not have been able to complete in the allotted time frame.
This is another technique that helps to take the pressure off and keeps your schedule flexible. I have a total of 4.5 hours set aside in my week, to give me some breathing space in case my week doesn’t go according to plan. I also have at least one hour each night allocated to ‘relaxing’, which can easily be reallocated to a more productive task if necessary. Little things like this will make your life much easier. The best thing about this is that if you have a clean, productive week, you may be able to use those spare hours for your own down time.
So those are my tips for getting started with the Time Blocking or Time Boxing Technique. Good luck!
~ Alice Maisie