You schedule your time.
How do you go about scheduling your time?
By time blocks
Block time out on your calendar for specific tasks. This means literally scheduling a meeting with yourself and including the project you plan to work on in that given time frame.
Many people find that a daily flow or routine of time blocks works well. In fact, a standard work day or school day is already a large time block dedicated to a particular task.
Within the work day, I find that blocking off my first 15-30 minutes or so for email, prioritizing plans for the day, getting mentally prepared for the day (and, let’s be honest, getting coffee!) set the tone for a great day. I also have several standing weekly meeting in particular time slots. This adds structure to my days, while still allowing flexibility within each day.
By type of project
If you know what time of day you’re most focused, you can schedule dedicated blocks of focused time when you’re at your peak, then transition to meetings or more mundane routine tasks when you know you struggle with having brain power. For example, I know that scheduling a heavy brain-focused work session on Friday afternoon is a recipe for procrastination and inefficiency. But it’s a great time to update spreadsheets, complete blocks of data and draft out a schedule for the following week.
By blocking your time by type of work, you can keep focus and flow even when you are transitioning between specific tasks.
With a different focus per day
This one is harder in a typical corporate career, but many entrepreneurs and freelancers have great success with it. The basic idea: Identify your key areas of focus and block off specific days of the week to work on those tasks. Michael Hyatt often talks about how he only takes appointments on Fridays.
- Monday: Client communication + meetings
- Tuesday: Strategic planning & reporting
- Wednesday: Project work
- Thursday: Content creation (i.e. blogging + newsletter + social media)
- Friday: Miscellaneous
As a blogger or writer, an alternate would be to schedule separate days or blocks of time for writing, editing, photo creation, posting/scheduling, etc.
If you prioritize and guard your time, others will also. As a leader (employee, parent, entrepreneur, etc), what example are you setting for your team (boss, children, clients, etc)? If you have time blocked and allow interruptions, your team will feel that they need to do the same. Your example speaks louder than your words.
Yes, responding to communication in a timely manner is important, but most responses can wait an hour or two. There are very few instances where a response is needed that quickly for which you won’t have advance notice. And in that case, it’s clearly not a good time to block off for focused work.
How do you block your time?