Do you feel like you are as busy as a one legged man in an ass kicking contest? Your day is filled with hustle, but somehow you never feel like you are being productive?
Well its probably because your day is an unstructured chaotic mess. Like mine was before I started time-blocking.
Now you're probably thinking, 'get stuffed, my day isn't unstructured and chaotic'. You have your to do list written out and you spend the day furiously ticking things off the list. Or as you might say 'I'm Getting Shit Done'.
However, are tasks added to your list faster than they are being removed? And despite crossing items off the list, do you still feel unproductive and overwhelmed?
The problem can be boiled down to a lack of focus because a to do list doesn't reflect importance. We tend to do the easiest or smallest tasks first, which are usually not the tasks that drive your business forward or generate revenue.
The most important tasks are the ones that take time, and if you don't explicitly define and schedule time for those tasks, consequently you will never have time for them.
Before timeblocking, I just had a big list of tasks. I did all the small easy tasks first like responding to clients requests as soon as they hit my inbox. By the end of the day there wasn't enough time or I didn't have enough energy to do the big tasks, like the redesign my website or write an article for the blog.
This routine left me felling overwhelmed, unproductive, and burnt out. I felt like I was always one step behind and trying to catch up.
Step 1 - Define the perfect day
After lots of research on productivity, I figured out in order to get out of this rut, I had to:
Make a priority list of only the 3 most important items for the week.
Theses tasks are the ones that will drive my business forward or make an impact on my revenue.
- Focus on a single outcome for the day (Read The One Thing)
- Minimise unpaid admin work
- Batch answer emails at set times, max twice per day (Read The 4h Work Week)
- Start timeblocking my day (Read how to be prodcutive)
- Minimise task switching (Read Makers Schedule)
This is the daily timeblocking schedule I came up with.
30min - Daily plan, clear emails and admin
Max half an hour, plan out the day and what I want to achieve. Also clear out my emails from the inbox so they are not sitting in the back of my mind.
4h - Primary Timeblock
My primary timeblock is dedicated to uninterrupted work, with a focus on the most important job or set of tasks from my priority list. I don't like to schedule individual tasks as it's far too ridged. A large block of time gives me a sense of flexibility, which is essential for dealing with (inevitable) interruptions.
1h - Break
I used to just eat lunch at my desk and continue to work. However after reading how important a break is to reset the mind and refresh creativity, I tried it. And guess what, it really works! I highly recommend forcing yourself to take an hours break each day.
30min - Clear email and admin
Another opportunity to clear a couple of items off my admin list and clear emails. Again MAX 30min. Admin work is not productive work!
2h - Secondary Timeblock
I dedicate my secondary timeblock to achieving my business goals and learning new technology or up-skilling.
Step 2 - Schedule Timeblocks into Google Calendar
Now that I have my timeblock defined, I schedule it into Google Calendar:
I created 3 new calendars
- Admin - For answered emails, business tasks, etc - Light green
- Work - For my focused Timeblocks - Dark Green
- Personal - For breaks and anything unrelated to work - Mustard
Then I drag out the chunks of time, label them, and then schedule them to be recurring Monday to Friday.
The trick is to make these new timeblocking calendars similar shades to each other, but a completely different colour to your main meetings calendar. This creates a nice visual outline for the day and makes it clear when a meeting will interrupt your time blocks. There is also a handy little red line to show you where you are in your day.
Timeblocking is super powerful tool that can be adapted to anyone's schedule. Here are the keys to making it work for you:
Be flexible and focused. Set large chunks of time aside to work on something important. You can work out what that exactly is at the beginning of each month, week, or every morning. If something pops up, like a meeting, don't panic, just reschedule the time block to another day.
Don't get too specific with your time blocks. A lot of timeblockers break up their day into many smaller detailed tasks, This can become a nightmare because if you miss estimate the length of time for a task or something interrupts your timeblock, you will be constantly shuffling your blocks around.
Schedule your admin, but don't give it too much time or energy out of your day.
Prioritise the most important stuff first! It has to be the work that actually generates you revenue, or are your core business goals, etc.