As I logged into WordPress today, the stats showed me that my most popular article over the last week was one I’d written in 2019 about Time Blocking.
Funny that this article should pop up now because I’ve recently been thinking about my whole productivity system. I’ve recently taken on a number of new responsibilities as I wrote about in my previous post. And keeping everything straight and working has become a challenge.
If you read my previous post on time-blocking, that I’ve linked below, you’ll notice that I had some very solid reasons for it not working… and one of them was playing catch up. I always took longer that my allotted time or I’d get distracted into doing something else and my whole blocking schedule would go haywire.
I think the problem wasn’t time-blocking but rather, me. I don’t think I really did it correctly and this time, I want to try and make it work.
What I did wrong when I tried Time-Blocking, and What I’m doing differently this time
Paper or Digital?
I know that it’s easy to do it on your phone or the laptop and probably the most efficient way because you can move around the blocks. But, that’s the problem. The whole idea of time-blocking is to actually use that block for it’s intended purpose.
So if you’re constantly going to move around those blocks, it’s not going to work. So this time, I’m going to go paper!
I’d used the online calendar previously so it was easy to color code blocks for work, writing, reading, etc. But, I created too many categories and just ended up having a rainbow calendar. Simple is often effective, particularly in a productivity system. Your mind is already cluttered, you don’t need your planner to be.
I blocked off time for everything… and that was just stupid. You can’t schedule every second of your day, and no one can do back to back blocks of work.
Firstly, you need to have ample free blocks just for down time, and definitely no back-to-backs.
Secondly, you need make allowances for how long something will actually need. So, for example, if you think you need an hour to get something done, block off an hour and fifteen, or even an hour and thirty.
Choosing the Right Time
Time-blocking can only work if it fits with your circumstances. So, for example, when I’m at my day job, I know that things keep coming at me throughout the day. While I’d love to be able to block off time to work on my proposal, I can’t alway stick to that. An urgent email or phone call is bound to get in your way.
During the morning hours, I schedule smaller blocks and work in bursts. I avoid calls and emails if I can, during those blocks.
Sticking with It… no matter what
The whole purpose of time-blocking is to create focus. So, if you’re going to be constantly distracted by other things, it won’t work. If you’re committed to writing, all you should be doing during that time is writing even if nothing’s coming to you. You can’t be flexible and you have to train yourself to follow through on the schedule you’ve set.