This November, I’m challenging myself to write every day. You can read them all under the “Shorts” category, where each post should be around 500–1k words. Think of them as “less polished” than my usual longer blog posts. This is Day 12.
Remember how we used to stick to a timetable back in school? Time-blocking is similar, but you have control over what you put into your schedule.
Time-blocking, as the name implies, is the act of setting aside time for tasks in your schedule or calendar to plan your day.
It doesn't sound like fun and it's extra work. I only started seriously time-blocking earlier this year, but I haven't stopped since then. I started picking up more things this year and it has gotten to the point of being overwhelming and exhausting. Around the same time, I started to hear about the benefits of time-blocking and became convinced too.
It was a natural progression from my current workflow. I used to only use my personal Notion template to plan out my week, but now I've added the time-blocking layer on top to improve my organisation. I'm a sucker for good organisation, after all. The best part about time-blocking is that it reduces your decision-making process as you'd have things planned out ahead of time.
Another benefit I've found to help is I've become more focused on my tasks. Since I can see the overview of the entire day, I'm more mindful of my time and become a little more efficient in completing my tasks. Time-blocking also serves as a to-do list, ensuring that I know what I need to do next in the day.
Now that you've heard about the wonders of time-blocking, here are four simple steps to get your time-blocking system up and running. This is how I do mine as well. I use Google Calendar.
Note: Be sure to set aside time to do time-blocking too!
These include video calls, meetings, and other events that you have already agreed to. You don't want to miss them, so make sure you schedule them first.
Maybe it's a lunch date, but you're not sure how long it will last. It's okay to make an educated guess (or a rough estimate) about flexible events You can always adjust your other time blocks after.
2. Add in routine tasks
Yes, even routine tasks such as eating and exercising! As I mentioned, having your whole day in perspective allows you to see what and where you're spending your time. Since these tasks are frequent or must have routines, you can set them up to repeat. Again, it's okay to rough estimates first.
Some people even plan their travel time to work or anywhere else when they're going out. I don't personally do this but I do leave some leeway on my calendar.
For example, I have a lunch date at 12 PM but I'm cleaning up at home before then. My calendar should look something like this:
9-11 AM: House cleaning
11-11:30 AM: Get ready
11.30-12 PM: Empty gap
12-2 PM: Lunch date
3. Put in your daily to-do list
You can now gradually add time blocks for all your to-do tasks. This can be done the night before for the following day, or on the day itself before you start your day. It also helps to identify the main theme or goal for the day to help you plan more effectively.
I do my weekly planning every Sunday evening. Sometimes I don't follow the exact blocks, because ad-hoc tasks happen unexpectedly or that my estimations might be off. This brings me to my final point.
4. Be flexible and mindful about it
Don't plan your calendar until there is no more wiggle or breathing room.
Life is unpredictable, so expect some of your blocks to be rearranged or adjusted (shortened or lengthened). Try to be flexible with your changes and be mindful of what you're adding or moving around. If you can be as selective about what goes into your calendar, then you won't have to worry about making too many adjustments.
Most of all, don't get too stressed out when it happens! Life happens, so just adjust accordingly.
You can read more about flexible consistency from Ness Labs here.
Time-blocking isn't for everyone. If you know why you want to start time-blocking, I believe it will work out well for you too. But if you're doing it because I'm telling you to or everyone else is, reconsider your motivations. After all, you don't want time-blocking to be just another task on your list to do.