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Time blocking 101: A step-by-step guide to mastering your daily schedule

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.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Time blocking 101: A step-by-step guide to mastering your daily schedule

Time blocking 101: A step-by-step guide to mastering your daily schedule

https://blog.rescuetime.com/time-blocking-101/

blog.rescuetime.com

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Key Ideas

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 calendar with the tasks and things you want to do, it’s harder for others to steal your time.

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.

Time blocking your schedule

  1. Know your high-level priorities and goals.
  2. Start creating blocks for your time outside of work (morning routines, time with family/friends etc.)
  3. Schedule your most meaningful work for when your energy and attention naturally peak.
  4. Add blocks for reactive tasks each day (emails, calls, meetings).
  5. Write down your daily to-do list (for work, home, and family/social) and fill it in.

Tips from time blocking experts

  • Place buffers in between tasks.
  • Schedule your breaks too. 
  • Use the right daily time management strategies to stay on track. 
  • Overestimate how long things will take (at least to start). 
  • Put in time for downtime, relaxation, and learning. 
  • Make sure the people around you understand what you’re working on.
  • Revise as needed.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Scheduling styles
When it comes to our daily schedule, most people fall into one of two camps:
  • The Overscheduler: Their days are determined from the moment they wake up to their evening routine.
Scheduling your day

A good daily schedule is a blueprint for a successful life. 

Knowing what we’re doing and when empowers us with a sense of purpose, meaning, and focus.

Your most important work

The most successful people consistently get their most important work done first.

Build recurring time for your most important work in the morning, before you start anything else. Your energy levels are naturally higher in the morning, but completing a meaningful task first thing has also a domino effect that pushes you through the day.

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There is no perfect method for everyone

There is no "one size fits all schedule" for maximum productivity.

Because we all have particular strengths and weaknesses when it comes to time management and productivity, what works...

The Time Blocking Method

It involves planning out your day in advance and dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks. 

It’s important to block out both proactive blocks (when you focus on important tasks) and reactive blocks (when you allow time for requests and interruptions).

The Most Important Task Method (MIT)

Instead of writing a big to-do list and trying to get it all done, determine the 1-3 tasks that are absolutely essential and then focus on those tasks during the day. 

You don’t do anything else until you’ve completed the three essential tasks.

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The Distraction of Digital Technology
Email, chat apps, social media, and other tools can be just as productive as they can be distracting. How do we get the most out of the good parts of technology while protecting ourselves from...
How technology became so exhausting

We spend all day staring at screens, read books on Kindles or iPads, and come home to relax by watching a movie or TV.

Digital technologies lump together the good with the bad.

Digital minimalism defined

As Cal Newport defines it, Digital minimalism is:

“A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

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Switching between tasks

Most of us spend our days jumping between tasks and tools.

In fact, most people average only 3 minutes on any given task before switching to something else (and only 2 minutes on a di...

Task switching and focus

Taking on additional tasks simultaneously can destroy up to 80% of your productive time:

  • Focusing on one task at a time = 100% of your productive time available.
  • Juggling two tasks at a time = 40% of your productive time for each and 20% lost to context switching.
  • Juggling three tasks at a time = 20% of your productive time for each and 40% lost to context switching.
A schedule for sustained attention
It includes:
  • Large chunks of focused “flow” time for more demanding projects.
  • “Themed” days to reduce the need to recalibrate between different tasks.
  • Advanced planning so you can prioritize meaningful work.
  • Realistic time set aside for admin, communication, and meetings.
  • Clear expectations for your teammates so they know when not to interrupt you.

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The 2 kinds of work :
  • Deep work”: using your skills to create something of value. It takes thought, energy, time and concentration.
  • Shallow work”: all the little administrative and logist...
Cal Newport
Cal Newport

"The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive. "

Cal Newport on time management
  • Don’t schedule distractions. Schedule deep work.
  • Keep a scoreboard for deep work: The point is to shame yourself if you’re not up to snuff.
  • Stop saying “yes” to unimportant stuff;
  • Have a “Deep Work Ritual”: Hiding in a conference room and throwing your phone into an abyss is a good one.
  • Ask your boss how much time they want you spending on deep vs shallow work: If they say “100% shallow”, feel free to ignore everything above.
  • Time Debt
    Time Debt

    The choices we make to ‘borrow’ our personal time to get work done works against us in the long run, just like the money borrowed from a credit card has to be paid back with interest in the future....

    Track Your Time

    You need to find out just where your time is going currently. You can use a pen and paper, a spreadsheet, or an app to visualize where you spend most of the hours in your day.

    Create A Time-Blocking Template
    • Block your time for specific types of work, not individual tasks.
    • Block your time for core work like coding, designing or writing, for shallow work like daily tasks and maintenance, for meetings and emails, and fill it with frequent breaks to replenish yourself.
    • Give yourself space between blocks so that you can decompress and keep your energy levels high.

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    Multitasking is killing your productivity

     44% of work distractions are self-inflicted and another 23% come from emails.

    That means you have complete control to cut out (or at ...

    Single-task benefits
    1. When you work on one thing at a time, you tend to work on the right things, because you have to plan your tasks.
    2. When you single-task you accomplish more in less time with less stress. Intentionally focusing on one task at a time has been proven the most efficient way to move through your to-do list.
    Cut out distractions
    • Turn off notifications or at least turn on priority notifications.The time and mental focus lost in attention-switching even for a second adds up throughout the day.
    • Use two computers - one for doing work and productive things, the other to do unproductive work.
    • Only keep one tab open at time

      It’s a concrete way to make sure that you’re only working on what you intentionally decided to be working on.

    • Use several separate desktop spaces as an alternative to one tab. One for communication, the other for different projects planned for the day.

    • Work offline whenever possible.

    • Schedule your email time

      Handle any emails that will take 2-minutes or less. Add everything else to your to-do list to focus on later.

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