Master Your Time: Time Blocking For Increased Productivity

4 minute read

It can be hard to stay focused and get things done. With more computers, apps, and gadgets designed to make our professional lives easier, we need concrete strategies to help us make the most of the time we have each day. After all, if you do not control your schedule, it will control you. Effective time management is the key to every successful business. That’s where time blocking comes in.

The Time Blocking Method

Time blocking is a productivity technique that requires planning out your day in advance and dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks. Instead of keeping an open-ended to-do list of things, you will start each day with a schedule where tasks are outlined and slotted for different dates/times.

At first glance, it may seem like you are turning your calendar into a rigid yet chaotic mess. An outstanding business, however, knows the value of being prepared and defining where to focus its time and effort. It also knows which meetings are the most important. With days that are time blocked in advance, you won’t have to constantly make choices about what to focus on. Time blocking adds clarity, direction, and boundaries to the workday.

A typical financial practice drops everything when the biggest client calls. But this client controls only 5, 10, maybe 20 percent of the business. These calls, if left unstructured, can quickly derail productivity.

How To Start Time Blocking: Proactive and Reactive Blocks

Let’s walk through a simple process for setting up a time blocking system.

Step 1: Decide What Needs To Be Done

First, decide on which broad categories of work need to be in your daily or weekly schedule. For example, a Practice Manager might have the following category list:

  • Email
  • Work admin
  • Meetings: client and team
  • Market Research
  • Trade prep and execution
  • Professional Development
  • Personal admin
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Reading
  • Free time

Then, ask yourself: What are the repetitive tasks you perform every week? Make a list of those and from there; prioritize them based on importance.

Getting started is as easy as opening your favourite calendar program or paper planner and creating time blocks for the coming week that reflect the times you will work on each category and tasks you have identified.

Step 2: Create A Wrapper For Your Day

Instead of jumping straight into your workday, start with guidelines for your time outside of work.

What is your morning routine? How will you wind down your day to disconnect from work and make time for friends and family? These tasks are as important as what you do during the day. Start by scheduling those tasks on your calendar.

Step 3: Set Aside Time In Proactive & Reactive Blocks

When scheduling out tasks, it is important to block out both proactive blocks and reactive blocks. Proactive blocks are when you focus on important tasks that you must get done. Proactive blocks allow you to make progress on important projects. Reactive blocks are when you allow time for requests and interruptions, such as email and impromptu meetings and, yes, even those big client calls.

For example, I schedule the most challenging or critical tasks for the first two hours of the day. These are the tasks that are critical to achieving our professional objectives. This block is for checking the market, preparing the morning update for the Mastermind Group, checking in with my virtual team, and focusing on my three most important tasks. The morning block allows me to work without distraction and gives me more than enough time to get things done without feeling rushed.

The rest of my day is a combination of structured and unstructured breaks. The structured morning block is always followed by an unstructured break. I give myself an hour for lunch and a walk with my dog Obi. I will also catch up on personal tasks or phone calls during this break.

Then I have a few more structured blocks. Depending on the day, these blocks may be focused on content creation, coaching clients, processing emails, or preparing for meetings: tasks that are important but not urgent to achieving long-term goals. The last few blocks of the day are less structured but designed to disconnect, relax, and recover.

What Makes Time Blocking Effective?

Time blocking helps protect two precious commodities: your time and your focus. Distractions are minimized and time blocking creates a sense of control. When we feel more control over what we are doing, it helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Time blocking isn’t for everyone, but it is helpful if you and your team need more structure and deliberate focus built into your workdays. The best teams use the time blocking method to guarantee a distraction-free time to plan, think, and prepare. Blocking time allows teams to use the rest of the time to execute and deliver.

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