I’m the type of person who strives to get a lot of things done in as little time as possible. In high school, I was always that kid who finished papers weeks before they were due and wrote upcoming assignments down in my school-issued planner. It has always been important for me to be as productive as I can at any given moment, which is something that I see as both a blessing and curse. On one hand, it’s nice to be very focused and work-minded. But on the other hand, it makes it really difficult for me to sit down and simply relax. I don’t like sitting on my hands for long periods of time. I always feel like I need to be doing something constructive. But recently I’ve come to realize that that way of thinking isn’t exactly healthy. Your brain shouldn’t be in work-mode for twenty-four hours a day. You need to give yourself a break every once and a while, even if you’d rather be working.
The other day I decided that I needed to find a way to give myself breaks from work without decreasing my productivity. I ended up reading a few different articles about time-blocking and came to the decision that I would give it a try. Several weeks later and I’m here to tell you how happy I am to have made that choice. Time-blocking has not only allowed me to take breaks when necessary, but also has increased my overall productivity. It’s an incredible work strategy if you’re someone with a lot of different things to juggle and it has done wonders for me.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of time-blocking, it’s basically just a method of plotting out your day. When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is determine your day’s top goals and priorities. Then, you devise a schedule for your day by establishing specific times for you to complete each activity. When the time expires, you stop and move on to the next thing, even if you haven’t finished.
I realize that sounds like a pretty simple strategy, but I promise you that it actually works. Having a concrete schedule set in front of you makes it a lot easier to stick to your plan. It gives you a healthy dose of pressure and urgency, which helps you get things accomplished in the allotted time. Having that little bit of self-set pressure helps me work more efficiently and reduces the likelihood of me becoming distracted. Since I always set short break times for myself in between long or strenuous activities, I don’t feel compelled to go on my phone or check my email when I’m supposed to be working. I realize that there is a place and a time for me to do such things and time-blocking has really allowed me to define those times and places.
To me, one of the biggest draws of time-blocking is that it eliminates one of the biggest problems of unstructured work time, which is the tendency to lose focus. If I’ve got a lot of different work-related things going on, I have the tendency to alternate between them all at once when I should be worrying about one thing at a time. By time-blocking, I don’t feel like I have to worry about multiple things at once. Instead I channel all of my efforts into one activity, which I believe has big effects on the work that I produce. I work much more efficiently when I’m concerning myself with just one project rather than three. Time-blocking enables me to do that without falling behind on anything else.
Essentially, time-blocking is all about setting realistic expectations for yourself. You think about the things on your to-do list that are the most important for you to complete and then predict how long it should take you to finish them. It’s very critical that you be honest with yourself and allot yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete your work. As long as you do that, time-blocking is an excellent way to make yourself more productive on a day-to-day basis. It’s simply learning to tailor your time to your most important goals. So far, it has had a major impact on my life and how efficiently I get things done.
Have you tried time-blocking?