It’s easy to make the to-do lists, but what about actually doing the tasks?
Sometimes we have so much going on that we get overwhelmed by it all. I get easily overwhelmed if I am looking at a big project, and all the steps involved. I work better focusing on small sections at a time.
One way to master your tasks, especially big projects, is to use the Time Blocking System of productivity.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a type of scheduling tool that helps you manage your time better. You work in big or small tasks in a set amount of time. You block out chunks of time for things that you have to get done each day. It works well for both small tasks and big projects.
For example, if your project is to launch a new coaching program, instead of trying to do it all at once, you block out chunks of time for each part, for example one morning just for outlining, one week to write the content, one day to film all the videos (get the most out of doing your hair and makeup!)
Time blocking isn’t about getting rid of your to-do lists; it’s about organising your time according to priorities and making your to-do lists more manageable.
Instead of working from a big, never ending, master to-do list, tackle those tasks with a specific time block (or several blocks for larger projects) that is more manageable. Having 3 items to a time block as opposed to a master list of 20 tasks makes the list easier to control.
How To Time Block
Step 1: Plan what your most important tasks are.
These will be your biggest time blocks. Then list smaller tasks that you need to do such as invoicing or calling people. Don’t forget to add in personal tasks such as doctor appointments, lunch and relaxing time.
Use an app like Evernote or pen and paper to make a list of the things you need to do for the week. Working on the Friday or Sunday before the upcoming week is a good time to do this.
Step 2: Schedule into blocks on your calendar.
I recommend an online one like Google Calendar, or iCal that can send you notifications and is easily updated and changed if emergencies come up.
Add your items to your calendar, dividing your time into 30-minute to 2 hour blocks. For example, maybe your most pressing task is to finish a project you’re launching in a few weeks. Block out two or three units for the week to work on the project.
I like to color code my different types of activities (and I actually use three different calendars overlaid each other – but I won’t get quite so detailed just yet!)
You can differentiate your calendar entries by project, client, type, personal appointments, and relaxation. So, let’s say you have a course you’re creating for your business, you’re working on a project for a client, you have a dentist appointment, need to do invoicing and want to relax for 45 minutes in the middle of the day. The course would be blue, the client work is red, the invoicing is yellow, the dentist is purple, and relaxation is green block.
To add a task to the calendar, click on the time slot. A pop up box opens where you can enter your task. You can also change the length of time here by clicking on the “begin” or “end” time.
You can also change time by clicking on the task and dragging up or down.
To change the color of a task, left click to choose a color.
You can remove or change the task as well by left clicking on it and hit delete.
Tips for Time Blocking
- You can combine time blocking with batching. This is when you batch similar tasks into one time block. Maybe you handle coaching calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays, do content creation on Monday mornings and Wednesday afternoons you work on client projects.
- Remember to account for personal time and time to decompress –coffee breaks, lunch with the kids, booking vacation travel, and spending time on social media with friends.
- Things will pop up that you don’t plan for. Don’t get flustered and think you have to change your calendar completely. Instead, if it really is needing your attention right now, go ahead and do it. Push your current task to the next available slot and then just carry on.
- It’s not necessary to schedule short 5-minute things or reminders. Anything that’s going to take you 15 minutes or longer should go on the calendar.
- At first, you may have trouble estimating how long a task will take. Schedule in a little extra time for those tasks. You can always adjust your calendar or move on to the next task.
- Schedule big projects or tasks over multiple time blocks covering a few days.
- Leave some blank space in your calendar every day for tasks that come up.
Getting Started with Time Blocking
Once you know where you are wasting time, it’s time to put systems and tools into play. Time blocking is a great way to mark out blocks of time for tasks you need to do each day. It’s a simple process and the tools needed are free. Using an online calendar program, like Google Calendar or iCal, you block out 30 minute to 2 hour blocks of time for specific tasks.
Prioritise your time. When you set up your time blocks, identify your highest priority and block that in first. Then work backwards to the lower-priority tasks. Don’t forget to block in time for social media, checking emails, and socialising with coworkers.
Block in time to decompress as well. This can be a short 5 to 10 minute water break or a longer stretch to relax.