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Focus Week: Take Control of Your Time - Study Hacks

https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2020/08/29/focus-week-take-control-of-your-time/

calnewport.com

Focus Week: Take Control of Your Time - Study Hacks
In the first lesson of our Focus Week series, I suggested that you unplug to give your brain and emotions a breather in our current moment of constant,

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The time blocking method

The time blocking method

When thinking about our workday, we should give every minute a job. This technique is called time blocking.

Most people generally approach their workday with a list of tasks where they fill the time between scheduled meetings and calls reacting to emails. When the mood strikes, they try to make progress on tasks on their list. By contrast, the time blocking method breaks your day into blocks of time and assign specific work to these blocks.

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Problems with the list/reactive time management methods

  • With the reactive method, you let other people's needs drive your activities. You feel busy and exhausted, but not really getting important tasks done.
  • Because you have no plan besides trying to get things done, your brain keeps looking for "breaks," which have a way of decreasing the total amount of work you're able to accomplish.

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The time blocking method gives you control

  • With the time blocking method, you control the balance between the urgent and the important.
  • Because you know what you're supposed to be doing, you're less likely to take unplanned breaks.
  • You know exactly how much time you really have available, and how long tasks will take.

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The time blocking strategy is cognitively demanding

Those who use this strategy get so much more done because their average intensity of focus is very high.

You do not want to extend this block discipline to your time outside of work, as this intensity will lead to burn out. A life of focus also needs time to reflect, and a commitment to direct your free time toward rewarding activities.

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Being purposeful with your day

Being purposeful with your day

Time management is about taking control of the time you do have available and using it optimally for productivity while creating balance.

How to plan your day

Much advice about time management is about creating a to-do list, reminding you what you want to do. However, it's more important to use a schedule, which tells you when you're going to do it.

  • Create "bookends" for each day. Consider your morning and evening routines, then "block" in time for your most important tasks. For example, a 2-hour writing-block every morning after breakfast.
  • Set aside time for your most important projects. The object is to be purposeful about what and when you're going to do something.
  • Schedule in breaks. A schedule has to be realistic. That means including time for breaks, food, exercise, social time, and other "non-school" tasks that keep you happy.

Be aware of how you’re spending your time

To build a better time management system, you need to know what you currently spend your time on. You need to know where you're losing time to the wrong things.

To track your time, spend a few days writing a "time log" to track how you spend your day.

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Time blocking

Time blocking

It's the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.

When you fill your c...

Time blocking and focus

By scheduling every minute of your day you not only guard against distraction but also multiply your focus.

Also, focusing on one task at a time can make you up to 80% more productive than splitting your attention across multiple tasks.

Cons of the time blocking practice

  • It takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Few of us (if any) have the same schedule every day.
  • We’re bad at estimating how long tasks will take to do.
  • Constant interruptions and “urgent” tasks can destroy your system.
  • Flexibility is key in most workplaces.
  • You can lose sight of the bigger picture if you focus just on each day.