Despite your best efforts, you’re constantly finding yourself pulled away from critical tasks that just don’t seem to get done. We’ve all been there.
Whether it’s attending meetings, helping another team manager, or managing your staff, something always gets in the way of your focus time. Sometimes, it’s hard to simply get motivated, even if you have few legitimate distractions.
Fortunately, there is a solution, and it’s through time blocking with Google Calendar. This handy tool can even be used to organize your private life if you’re the kind of person who struggles with constant interruptions or procrastination.
This simple but effective trick can increase your productivity and reduce stress caused by lack of focus, resulting in better output and less stress. So, let’s explore how to block out time with Google Calendar, plus some innovative solutions that can streamline the process for you.
What is Time Blocking?
Just as the name suggests, time blocking involves carving out specific time slots within your calendar to make room for your essential goals. This simple practice can do wonders for your daily schedule; as long as you have the time, and a team that respects your calendar, it’ll ensure that you have time to attend to whatever task matters most.
If you consider emerging trends like the Pomodoro Technique, it’s easy to see why this is so successful. The Pomodoro Technique came about in the 1980s, but it’s seeing a resurgence in an age where our focus is poorer than ever thanks to smartphone addiction and quick dopamine hits.
The Pomodoro Technique involves using timeboxed periods of typically 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks. With time blocking, you’re essentially doing something very similar. You’re carving out small sprints of time that will allow you to complete key tasks, without the risk of interruption from colleagues who might try to intrude on your otherwise-empty calendar real estate.
How to Start Time Blocking with Google Calendar
Are you ready to start boosting your personal focus and reducing stress? Below, you’ll find a quick guide that highlights key tips for optimally blocking out time in Google Calendar so that you can schedule your day for success.
1. Give Yourself Time to Get Organized
For a productive start to the day, you’ll want to carve out some time in your Google Calendar first thing in the morning. This will let you review your plans for the rest of the workday, get your brain fired up, and of course, sink some coffee.
- Block out time first thing in the morning in your Google Calendar by creating an event. You can use the repeat option to make sure this happens every day at the same time. Alternatively, it can be a one-off on a Monday morning. Taking thirty minutes to prepare for your day or week can help to clear your mind and avoid any disorganization later on.
- Give your morning time block an appropriate title so that you don’t forget why it’s there. For example, “Morning Review” or “Planning and Focus Time.” Now, you’ll have no interruptions as you get set up for your day.
You can use these morning periods to ensure you’re staying on top of your time blocking too. It’ll let you work out your optimal schedule for the rest of the week, so read on for our tips on how to effectively time block your Google Calendar for the rest of the day and the week ahead.
2. Group Tasks for Continuous Productivity
Time blocking has huge benefits for people who complete specific tasks every day. For example, if you work in operations management, you might be spending time each day reviewing your team’s performance. If you’re a marketer, you may be checking your website’s visitor statistics and performance.
These are just a couple of examples, but grouping tasks can apply to a whole range of activities that include:
- Daily meetings
- One-to-ones or performance reviews
- Clearing email inboxes
So, sit down and work out what tasks comprise the bulk of your role or day in general. Think about which tasks typically take the longest, which can be grouped together, and whether there are any places where one task flows naturally into the next and can be blocked closely together.
3. Focus on When You’re Most Productive
Now that you’ve got a full list of all your daily tasks, think about your own personal energy levels. Are you a night owl who functions best late in the evening, or are you bursting with energy first thing in the morning?
Some people work best early in the day, before they’ve had a chance to burn out mentally. Others take some time to spin up in the morning and are most productive in the afternoon. It could take some time to work out your energy and motivation, but once you’ve got a clear picture, consider the following:
- If you work best in the morning, you may want to focus on your bigger tasks first. This will make the best use of your high energy levels and concentration, and the mental boost from smashing these tasks will carry you through the afternoon slump.
- If you find it hard to get going at 9 a.m., schedule your easy tasks or “quick wins” first. The satisfaction from getting these under your belt should help you build momentum and tackle tougher tasks in the afternoon.
- If you’re not a morning person, try to block your meetings in the afternoon, after you’ve had lunch. It’ll likely make you more willing to participate and engage in discussions.
4. Schedule Your Day in Google Calendar
Now, you should have a good idea of the routine tasks you complete, how they can be grouped together, and the best time of day for you to complete easy or difficult work. It’s time to start time blocking with your Google Calendar.
Before we impart you with some final tips on doing this effectively, here’s a quick breakdown of how you can time block in Google Calendar, just in case you’ve not done it before. We’ll use the morning review as an example.
- Open Google Calendar.
- Click on the large plus symbol in the top-left of your calendar. Alternatively, click on the 9 a.m. time slot.
- Choose Task (or Event).
- Give your morning planning time a name under Add title.
- Click on More options and change Does not repeat, to Every weekday.
- If you work quickly in the morning, you can also change the time to 30 minutes instead of an hour.
Now, you have a morning focus period every weekday that you can use to schedule the rest of your calendar. While doing so, remember these tips:
- Leave yourself some buffer time: If you’re blocking out meeting times, allow yourself ten or fifteen minutes on either side to use the bathroom, get a coffee, or make important follow-up notes from the discussions.
- Repeat your morning focus time in the evening: Before logging out for the day, consider repeating your morning planning session for a quick review. Logging out mid-task is a good way to break your focus and forget what you were doing the next day. Use this time to plan your follow-up work.
- Don’t forget your breaks: People can and will schedule meetings or other tasks in your usual break times if you don’t time block them. There’s no way for your colleagues to know when you’re available or unavailable if you don’t explicitly show it, particularly if you’re working remotely!
Take Time Blocking a Step Further
We’re sure that after a few days to a week of time blocking, you’re going to see the difference and wonder how you ever managed without it.
Well, we’ve got good news for you. You can take things a step further by integrating time blocking and your calendar with a time blocking platform.
Akiflow brings together multiple productivity tools, allowing you to integrate Google Calendar, Slack, Zoom, and 2,000 more applications. You’ll retain all of the essential functionality you’re used to, including notifications ahead of meetings. However, the benefits you’ll gain on top of your usual calendar include:
- Turning chats into actionable items
- Having a single, universal inbox
- Managing multiple tasks from a single command bar
- Time blocking faster by dragging tasks directly into your calendar
With Akiflow, you could save as much as two hours every day by streamlining your productivity and always understanding the next step. The best part? You can try Akiflow for free with no commitment. Get started today and immediately begin to reap the benefits of our multi-award-winning productivity platform.