Increase Your Productivity with Time Blocking + A Free 12 Week Planner

Reading time: 4 minutes.
“You can never lose time and get it back again. You can’t spend time and go earn more of it. You can’t buy it, rent it or borrow it.”
-Kevin Kruse

 

7 am. The alarm goes off, you roll out of bed.

You decide to check your email – a cool article takes you someone’s website.

After reading the post, in the sidebar, you notice they are running a contest on Facebook. It looks interesting enough, so you click through.

Buuut since you’re here, you might as well check your current notifications and your activity feed.

It won’t take long. Pinky swear.

You need to write an article for your own website… ah, you can do that after breakfast. Back to Facebook.

You post a couple of ‘Happy birthday’ messages and check out a funny cat video – they get you every time!

The next video looks hilarious, you’ll just watch that too … it’s only 2 minutes long.

Somehow you end up on YouTube – oh crap. It’s like a never-ending black hole. How did you get here anyways?

You’ve now magically moved into monkey videos (when did that happen?).

With no end in site, you scrape together the last of your willpower to TURN IT OFF!

Well, that was easy. Now for breakfast. 9:30 am? No way!

You’ve wasted 2.5 hours doing absolutely nothing.

Sound familiar? It happens.

It happens to most of us.

It’s happened to me more times than I can count.

In order to get out of this loop of unproductivity, you have to know how to stop it before it happens.

Until I stumbled upon a better way to manage my time, this was pretty much the norm on a weekly basis.

I’m gonna tell you the strategy I use to manage my time now, and I know a lot of successful people that subscribe to this method as well.

 

What exactly is time blocking?

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Pomodoro Technique for productivity, right?

You basically set a timer  for 25 minutes, concentrate on your task at hand while blocking out all interruptions and then you take a 5-minute break.

Of course, you could adjust the work/break sequence to times that work better for you (like 35/5 or 40/10, etc.), but the idea is to work with a purpose for an uninterrupted amount of time.

Well, this kind of follows along those same lines.

Plan your time blocks. Do the work. Rinse and repeat.

In his book, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, Kevin Kruse wrote about time management strategies that many entrepreneurs, students, authors, stay-at-home parents, etc. use to stay productive.

Time blocking is one of those strategies and it’s the one I use consistently.

 

How it’s done – It really couldn’t be easier

Basically, you block out a certain amount of time for your daily tasks. This can be anything from appointments to writing to household chores.

Use a calendar (I love my Google calendar for this) or just write down your daily schedule on a piece of paper.

Do the work. That’s it!

12 Week Planner

The perfect planner to help create and achieve your goals,

12 weeks (a quarter of a year) at a time.

 

Best practices – Translation: how to not fail

It may sound like rainbows and butterflies and maybe this seems like too much of a no-brainer for you.

I know what you’re thinking – I can keep all of my “to-dos” in my head or just write them out as a list and check them off as I go.

You can.

Some people work well that way.

But what I’ve found is that when I just do the to-do list, half of my items are still on the list at the end of the day because I just didn’t want to do them.

Usually, it was the harder, more time-consuming activities that stayed on there. They stayed there until the deadline was approaching and then I would tackle them – when I was up against a time limit.

 

Plan the night before 

You don’t want to get up in the morning wondering what to do first. Take 15 minutes before you go to bed to plan out the following day.

 

Schedule everything

When you first start out and until you get really great at estimating how long things will take, you want to put everything on your calendar. Lunch, downtime, checking personal emails, etc. This will not only help you stay on track, but it will give you an idea of how much time you actually spend on tasks.

 

Schedule your MITs first 

Those Most Important Tasks (or frogs as Brian Tracy likes to call them), need to be done first. Get them out of the way early or put them on the schedule first – during your most productive hour. Not everyone is most productive first thing in the morning so if your time is 9am – 12pm when the kids are in school and the house is quiet, put those tasks during that block.

 

Double how long you think it will take

I thought I knew it all when I began time blocking. It would only take 30 minutes to fold the laundry and straighten up the living room. I only needed an hour to work on images for my website. Ha! Most of the time, everything I had initially estimated took longer than I had anticipated and what effect did that have? You guessed it – it threw me way off schedule and I didn’t get as much done as I had “planned” to. When you first start out, go ahead and double it. Soon enough, you’ll have an accurate feel of how long things will take.

 

Don’t cram everything in

I know I said schedule everything, but hear me out for a minute. In the beginning, it’s super exciting to schedule your day out this way. However, don’t make the mistake of filling up your entire day to where there is no white space left. Leave a little room for error or just a little space to breath. It’s okay to relax every once in a while.

 

Turn off all distractions

During your blocks (especially for your MITs), make sure your alerts are off and there aren’t any temptations to throw you off course.

 

Be realistic

If there’s a show you watch every afternoon at 4:30pm, don’t schedule that time as your creative writing block. Come on! No matter what good productive intentions your present self has, your future self will take every moment to sabotage you and she’s gonna watch that show – no matter what your silly schedule says.

So what would your schedule look like when this is all done? I’ve created an example just so you can have a visual. Obviously, this isn’t a full schedule, but I just want to give you an idea of what time blocking can look like.

 

Notice a few things

Leave a little cushion around the creative or more time intensive tasks – like writing or content creation. That way, if you are in a zone and you go into another half hour, it’s okay.

If you or your partner likes to watch sports, subscribe to the game calendar so it automatically feeds onto your schedule and you’ll know when to plan around them. Nothing worse than planning something only to realize your team is playing at the same time.

Don’t forget to schedule time for your personal emails and social media. This is good because if you know you have time set for later, you won’t be tempted to veer off course. Once it’s done, you can go back to your other scheduled tasks.

 

Useful Tools

Google calendar is your best friend. So easy to use and it syncs with so many other apps and tools.

If you’re more of a pen to paper kind of person, throw it all in your day planner.

Want to know how you handle productivity? What’s your time management style?

That’s really all you need!

Let me know how you like to plan your day.

 

12 Week Planner

The perfect planner to help create and achieve your goals,

12 weeks (a quarter of a year) at a time.

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