Do you have items that languish in to-do list purgatory? You know, the ones that stay on your list week after week. And it seems nearly impossible to find time to tackle them. Perhaps because of the time and focus needed to accomplish it. Or maybe because it’s a task you absolutely loathe. So you continue to avoid it. Trust me, we’ve all been there!
So how do we stop this nasty habit? Simple, start time blocking. Time blocking, also commonly referred to as timeboxing, is the strategy of migrating your to-do list to your calendar. This allows you to “box out” dedicated time on your calendar to get all your tasks completed. Here’s why time blocking is a great productivity tool.
We often default to doing the easiest first
There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing an item off my to-do list. And it’s a lot easier to cross off “reply to David’s email” than “develop workshop presentation.” So we frequently find ourselves tackling the easy things first. I often hear clients say “doing the easy stuff first allows me to free up my day so that I can focus on the big stuff.”
But the trouble is, the easy stuff – like emails, phone calls and texts – are never-ending and highly disruptive. Meanwhile that big presentation is no closer to completion. So instead of checking your email when you first come into the office, consider making a simple change. Block out the first 30 minutes of your day to tackle one thing on your to-do-list.
Decision fatigue destroys productivity
If Covid has taught me anything, it’s that decision fatigue is real and it is here to stay. Which task do I tackle first? Which email should I return? What meetings do I absolutely need to attend? We may start our day with a clear picture of what needs to get done, only to be completely sidelined by 11:00am. And by 4:00pm, we have a longer list than when we started the day! We are bombarded constantly with so many requests that we hardly have time to tackle what needs to get done.
Time blocking is a great tool to help create dedicated space on your calendar to complete a specific task. Have a brief due? Block out a few hours on your calendar. Need to get a blog drafted? Dedicate some precious calendar time to that, too. Adding it to your calendar helps eliminate distractions, prevents others from scheduling time during that window, and allows you to get more done in your day.
How to prioritize competing priorities
Have you ever had difficulty prioritizing your work? I certainly have! There’s nothing worse than getting stuck on what to tackle first when you have multiple significant projects looming. Time blocking is a great tool to help you visually outline your deadlines on your calendar.
As example, if you have a new social media campaign launching, consider all the steps that are required, from concept creation to design to the actual launch. For each step, box out time on your calendar to ensure you have dedicated sufficient time to focus and complete it.
And remember, if you are working in a team, be sure to give your colleagues ample time to complete their portions, too. When you can visualize what task is due when, you are more likely to plan your time accordingly.
In short, time blocking will help you work smarter, not harder. If you are looking for a strategy that gives you greater balance in your day and less burnout, consider time blocking.
Have a question on time management or a great strategy to share? Feel free to contact me.