Have you wondered how you can use time blocking to advance and complete work projects that you care about? You know, the ones that are continuously bumped down (off?!) your to-do list? Maybe it’s that article you want to publish or an initiative you’d like to design and implement.

Your desire to do the work is there, but your day ends up being consumed with putting out fires, responding to other people’s requests, and dealing with email.

Enter time blocking: you can finally give attention to the neglected project(s) you want to get to!

What is time blocking?

Time blocking is a time management technique that involves assigning blocks of time in your day to tasks and projects you want to complete.

How to use time blocking: a simple approach

The simplest and least complicated way to use this method is to identify a task or project you want to complete and schedule it in your calendar. In doing so, you move it from your to-do list and assign time to work on it. The critical step is that you actually work on it.

There are more involved ways to time block, for sure. These apply time blocking to the entire day or week (read this blog post to learn more). That approach doesn’t work for me as it feels too rigid.

But, I do love and use time blocking extensively in my week–with great success. It enables me to be productive in areas of work that matter to me.

Tips for success once you’ve carved out time in your calendar

Be clear on what you plan to accomplish in the time you’ve allocated. For example, instead of stating a broad goal such as “start writing article,” (or whatever your project is) get specific about the exact tasks you want to accomplish. If you’re not sure what the tasks are, then block out time to figure that out.

Plan ahead. I do my detailed planning the night before and also on Sundays. This is when I get specific about scheduling time for priority items. Figure out when and how you need to plan.

Fiercely protect your time. Prioritize it, cherish it, give yourself this gift.

Match the task to your energy. Think about when you have energy during your day and match the task to the energy you require to advance the work. You’ll probably get discouraged if you have time and then don’t made good use of it.

Notice what’s working and adjust as needed. Do you overestimate what you can get done in the time you’ve given yourself (lots of people do)? Is your physical space working for you? Look at your approach holistically and tweak it as needed.

Determine if you need accountability to actually honour the time you’ve blocked to a given task. If you do, consider co-working sessions with a colleague or a site like FocusMate, or working with a coach.

Is time blocking for me?

If honouring your priorities and doing focussed work are important to you and that’s been a struggle, then time blocking is for you.

Time blocking is also for you if you:

  • Have many projects and responsibilities
  • Spend most of your time responding to emails and other people’s requests
  • Struggle to find the time for big-picture thinking
  • Spend much of your day in meetings and/or (typically) have constant interruptions

I’m ready to give it a try!

If you’re ready to give it a try, great–there are loads of resources and even apps to help you! I’m a big fan of this approach and many of my coaching clients have used it with success.

If you’d like individualized support for gentle productivity in your higher education career so that you can do more of what energizes you at work (and reduce overwhelm), reach out to me to find out how coaching can help. I’d love to hear from you.

Photo Credit: Digital Buggu from Pexels

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