As you may know, I am a dedicated follower of my schedule and I rarely stray from it. But, if I can be completely honest with you, after leaving my corporate job, I had to reinvent the way that I worked. Not only for productivity, but to embrace the perks of being my own boss, and hold myself accountable to taking advantage of those perks. I began to introduce time blocking and quickly realized how great it was for my schedule and my sanity. It also allowed me to move over to a 4 day work week in the latter part of this year. I want to share how you can utilize time blocking to set expectations, meet deadlines and improve your productivity while living in your zone of genius!
When I learned a new concept in the past, I had listened to podcasts about a topic and wondered what secret they knew and what topic they were actually talking about, so before you keep reading, I want to share what time blocking is…
”Time blocking is the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.”
I also have to admit, while to-do lists (which I love) tell you what you need to do, time blocking tells you when you need to do it. I do not take it as far as every moment, but I do actually do it for the majority of my day, while still allowing for some flex time.
IDENTIFY WHERE TIME BLOCKING FITS
While I was already loosely setting time blocks, I found that I would be “busy” all day and wondered where all my time went. I stumbled on RescueTime because of their incredible blogs on time management, building good habits, and how to align your day for peak productivity. I seriously went down a rabbit hole on their blogs.
Of course, time blocking is going to look different for everyone, but it will always start with really getting to know where you spend your time. That is another reason why I love Rescue Time because it gives you insight into where the minutes and hours of the day go, so you can identify the patterns in your productivity throughout the day.
This part of their program allowed me to see when I was most productive and where I tend to spend my days so that I could build my time blocking around those areas.
Now, if you are not going to use RescueTime, you can go back to the fancy way that I’ve also done this, with a pen and paper. I wrote out my week and would mark everything that I was doing. I separate timekeeping for my clients, but I record all of the admin, the emails, any time that I would spend on social media, any time syncs that I wasn’t thinking of or didn’t want to add into my schedule, and I listed them.
By identifying where your time is being spent, you can work backwards and set realistic expectations for yourself, your team, and in turn for your clients.
3 THINGS THAT SHAPED THE EXPECTATIONS I SET
In all honesty, the first was a mix of my financial goal and how much I was willing to work. I worked backwards based on those numbers to make sure I had the right amount of time in my day available for client dedicated work and overall decide how many hours I should be working.
Second, I asked myself when are the best hours for my team to be working? Of course, when I leaned into time blocking, I feared that it was going to be at the expense of my clients, but it turns out I was more thoughtful and deliberate with my time so that they could better anticipate my availability. It also turns out that I turned a five day work week into only a four day work week by implementing time blocking.
Third, what do I need to cut out or introduce into my schedule to meet expectations or goals? Release what isn’t serving you and make sure that you are leaning on and building a team. This is a mix of resources, systems, and making sure that you are delegating.
Now that I have shared questions I ask myself, I want to answer a few questions you shared with me.
QUESTIONS AROUND TIME BLOCKING
How do I prioritize my work and my deadlines with time blocking?
I think a lot of people have this question because they fear time blocking is restrictive. I dedicate a certain amount of time to client work each day, so when I do look at my schedule and see that time is set aside, I am better able to set realistic expectations, stick to my deadlines and prioritize urgent work.
Once something does go on my schedule, it does not mean that it always stays there, it’s life and sometimes we need to shuffle things around!
When do you add a task to your calendar?
For client work, sometimes a task is being discussed, but I am still waiting for that next step for the task to be ready, so I like to put it on my schedule in a few different ways.
I color code my different types of tasks, but I also use the free, tentative and busy method. For example, I mark a task as tentative when it is about to become my responsibility, we haven’t fully confirmed it or when I want to make sure that I am creating space for it. If something needs to take its place because it has been confirmed first, the tentative is what gets shuffled before anything else.
Do you group things by tasks, emails, phone calls, or other work?
Yes! This goes back to tracking your time before you build your time blocks. I was able to find efficiencies by having my calls grouped together because I found that I was in a flow of being collaborative, outgoing and wanting to talk with other people.
RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
RescueTime, is a resource to help you become more focused, productive and motivated. Here are a few of their influential blogs that changed the way I managed my time…
- How Many Hours Should We Work
- How to Make a Four Day Work Week
- How to Find Your Most Productive Time Each Day
If you can’t tell, I seriously love talking about time blocking because it has given me a better work-life balance. Above everything else, being an entrepreneur was something I wanted so I could spend time where I was most excited, in my zone of genius and feeling like I was moving the needle forward in my business.
If you have any questions or are running up against any barriers, join the conversation in Facebook Group! Our community is here to support you.