You may know the feeling – you wake up to a busy day, with a long to-do list looming and no idea of how you’re going to get it all done. While it’s great to have a clear list of your tasks, without a plan it can just feel overwhelming.
In the new working model where many or most people are working from home, time blocking is more important than ever, as people try to juggle personal and work tasks, and make sure that they have balance in their calendar.
With task and calendar management apps like Akiflow, the entire time blocking process can be at the tip of your fingers, integrated with all of your existing systems and processes.
If you’re ready to learn how to implement time blocking, this is the article for you! We will go over exactly how time blocking works, some alternative techniques you could use, and we’ve included a free time blocking template to get you started.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a time management tool that involves splitting your entire calendar for your day or week into specific ‘blocks’ that are dedicated to individual tasks. The blocks can be as short or as long as you want, but the idea is to allow enough time for you to focus completely on the task at hand.
Time blocking isn’t just for work tasks either! It works most effectively if you also include the tasks that need to be done so that you can truly block out your entire day. By including personal tasks, you make sure that you can dedicate enough time to personal development, self-care, and your friends or family.
Studies show that up to 82% of people have no dedicated time management system and 1 in 8 people never feel under control with their time management. Time blocking allows you to make decisions around prioritization and organization of tasks in advance so that once you are going through your day you don’t need to make decisions about which tasks to do first or prioritize.
5 Steps for getting started with time blocking.
- Find a way to automate your time blocking
Studies have shown that almost 60% of workers report being highly stressed, with workload being a key driving factor. So it’s important to find a way to easily work time management techniques into your life – you want to remove stress, not add it!
The software allows users to block out time in their calendars, track time spent on scheduled blocks, and access tools to log in to your activities, meetings, tasks, notes, and other project management integrations.
The app also sends you notifications of your tasks, so you never miss out on your scheduled blocks. For many people, by using an app like Akiflow that can tap into their existing software stack, the time blocking process becomes much more streamlined and pain-free, which means they are more likely to do it!
- Set realistic blocks of time
Research has shown that it takes almost 10 minutes to focus again after switching between tasks, so putting 15 minutes in your calendar for a task is unlikely to be enough time to complete any meaningful work. So while it may feel tempting when you first start time blocking to put in tiny blocks of time to fit more tasks in your schedule, quality over quantity!
If it’s going to take you 1 hour to complete a task, you’re better off dedicating just one hour and getting it right, rather than trying to short-change yourself on time and realizing you need to schedule more time the next day.
- Schedule in time for tasks that you know will be recurring.
The idea with time blocking is to take the thinking out of your task management, so wherever possible you should look to schedule tasks that you know will be recurring. Blocking out recurring items in your day will allow you to see at a glance how much availability you truly have for additional tasks.
With Akiflow you can easily set recurring tasks, and share your calendar availability with others, so you’ll never be double-booked again! Once you’ve thoroughly scheduled all of your recurring tasks, colleagues can book time directly through the app in your calendar.
Even if there is a chance that you will have to move or edit the block later, it will still serve as a reminder of the tasks to ensure it doesn’t get lost in the business of the day. If you don’t need to move or edit the task, then that’s just another block that you don’t need to worry about!
- Make sure you dedicate some time for breaks and rest
You will be able to focus much more easily on your other tasks if you are adequately rested, and often people forget to schedule time in their day to stretch their legs, rest or even just eat a meal! That’s true for teams as well as individuals.
By blocking out the time in your diary you treat your rest and breaks with as much importance as your work tasks, and you are much less likely to cut them short or skip them altogether if they have dedicated time in your diary.
- Get to know your pattern of concentration and energy during the day.
Have you noticed that you have a dip in motivation around 3 pm? Make sure you schedule more tasks earlier in the day so that you can dedicate that 3 pm block for a break.
By taking notice of these unique habits and patterns, you can make the most of the time that you have in the day by working with yourself optimally. Maybe you can’t find more hours in your day, but you can find ways to get more value!
Instead of trying to simply work through your ‘slow’ periods, if you can schedule downtime in advance, then you can take advantage of your ‘fast’ times for your important tasks when you feel refreshed.
Time blocking template
To get started, many people find that a time blocking/time boxing template can help them to begin to visualize their calendar. You can use our free template to start to map out your day, by allocating 30-minute or 1-hour blocks to your tasks.
We wouldn’t recommend dropping down to a 15-minute schedule template, as most people find this isn’t enough time to adequately complete a task.
You can use this template as a guide to help you block out sections of time in your calendar, or to speed the process up you can use an app like Akiflow that accesses your calendar and can use your existing task-management software to create time blocks in your calendar.
You’ve mastered time blocking – what’s next?
So you’ve been working on time blocking for a while and you feel like you’ve got it down pat – what’s next? Here are some time planning methods that you could use to expand on or replace your existing time blocking techniques.
- Day theming
Once you have been time-blocking for a while, you may start to see different categories that your work could fit in. For example, you may have individual tasks scattered across your week that could all fit into a theme of ‘administration tasks’ like invoicing, or emails.
Once you have identified those categories, you can block out an entire day in your week to focus on that one category of task. This can make you more efficient because you are having to spend less time switching contexts between different styles of tasks.
- Task batching
If you like the idea of day-theming but you don’t have enough tasks in one category to fill up a full day, task batching might be right for you! The aim of task batching is to reduce context-switching by performing similar tasks back to back.
With task batching, you take multiple tasks or time blocks that fit in a single category and then block out a big chunk of your day for that category. For example, you might decide to batch together all of your administrative tasks in the morning and leave your afternoon for meetings.
- Time boxing
If you find that certain tasks could always use more time, or tend to run over time, then time boxing might be the solution. With time boxing, you mark out your calendar by task in the same method as time blocking, but you view the time as a set limit and don’t extend it further.
For example, if you have emails to go through, then your box of time for ‘emails’ is viewed as a time limit. When the allocated time is up, you stop the tasks and move on to the next one. This is different from time blocking because often with time blocking you would extend a block if the task is not complete.
Work more efficiently with Akiflow
Time blocking can be a life-changing method for many people. In this article, we’ve covered how to get started on time blocking and some alternative methods that you could try to find a system that is just right for you.
Getting started is simple, you can either use a time blocking template like the one provided in this article, or simply use an app like Akiflow to integrate all of your tasks management apps, and perform your time blocking from one centralized application. Happy blocking!