I’m going to preface this by stating that I’m not perfect at time blocking. Procrastination is a sneaky little fiend that always manages to snatch my wayward mind. Such is the life of many people with ADHD. And, I’m no exception. But, over the years I’ve learned how to take ownership of my time and how I spend it. For example, creating an organized environment improves my focus. Having a plan in place keeps me productive and moving towards my goals. Creating visual and aural reminders helps me remember my priorities. Training myself to arrive at appointments and events 10-20 minutes early helps me honor my commitments. And making time blocking a regular habit has increased my productivity.
A Quick Rundown on Time Blocking
So, if time blocking is a new term for you let me give you a quick definition. Time blocking involves dividing tasks, priorities, and routines into manageable chunks. Thus, creating an intuitive and responsive schedule based on your unique needs and goals. This method of time management has helped me to get more organized and stay on track with my writing goals, personal goals, and life in general.
Putting Time Blocking Into Action
Again, the act of time blocking is something that’s going to depend on the individual. But, for me, I utilize it as a way to create a flow to my day and accomplish daily tasks. Setting aside designated amounts of time for chores, routines, projects, fitness, and work allows me to achieve goals in a timely fashion. Thus, decreasing my good friend procrastination. Knowing what I need to do when I need to do it creates a sense of urgency surrounding tasks. And, it helps to increase my focus.
An important tool involved in the process of time blocking is my digital calendar. Once a month I take the time to look at my calendar and plug-in important appointments, projects, and events. This includes birthdays, anniversaries, deadlines, doctor’s appointments, etc. This way I’ve already accounted for this time and have it scheduled off. Each week I decide what the 3-4 main priorities I need to accomplish are. Typically, I will have a main priority or goal I need to accomplish for work, one for adulting, and one for self. Then I designate or “block off” sections of time with the specific tasks needed to accomplish those priorities. Additionally, I block off routines and repetitive tasks. For instance, I set aside time to meal plan and order groceries. I block off my morning and evening routines. And I make sure to schedule my workout sessions. I prefer to use iCal for this, but you can use Google Calendar or an Erin Condren Planner. Whichever works best for you.
Creating Your Productivity Flow
Another cool thing about time blocking is you get to create your own productivity flow. Maybe you’re like me and you’re more focused and efficient in the mornings. Perhaps it’s best for you to batch more complicated tasks like cleaning, running errands, going to the gym, or completing projects at that time. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than getting all of my chores and errands done first thing in the morning. By the afternoon I’m so over it and will usually put it off. The point is to identify the time of day that you’re the most productive and take advantage of it. Furthermore, you’ll want to batch and combine like tasks.
Do you need to run errands at places that are close to each other? Say, you need to go to the post office to get stamps and mail a package. And, you need to go to the bank. If they’re near each other you can combine these two errands and knock them out at the same time. Another example would be you need to email a client for work and you also need to email your boss about the new project. Since you’re already emailing the client you can go ahead and send the email to your boss. And, why not check the messages while you’re in there.
Automate Like No One’s Watching
I touched on this earlier but automation is KING baby. Automatically blocking time for my morning routine, evening routine, and workout routine has helped me stick to those habits. And you can do the same thing. Set up recurring tasks, events, routines, or responsibilities to automatically occur on your calendar. That way once it’s done it’s done. Also, make sure to automate breaks and time off as well. That way you don’t have a crazy-filled calendar.
I like seeing all the different colors on my calendar. But, aside from making my calendar look pretty, they serve a purpose. Each of those colors represents a specific project, task, or responsibility. For example, there’s a specific color for errands, work, social, appointments, phone calls, time off, date night, etc. That way I assign specific tasks with specific colors. That way it’s clear to me what’s happening when and what I need to do if anything to prepare.
Planners, To-Do Lists, & Productivity Tools
In my opinion, you can never have too many productivity tools. Especially if you’re managing ADHD on top of brain fog from chronic illness. It’s a deadly combination I’m telling you. But having a physical planner or notebook where you can jot down to do’s and ideas is beneficial. The simple act of writing tasks, priorities, and appointments down can help improve memory. Additionally, it’s great for increasing accountability and achieving goals. Furthermore, there are many guided planners, digital planners or bullet journals that allow you to track and log specific goals. As long as you’re designating a time each day or week to block time off for these tasks and priorities this is a great companion to time blocking.
Now It’s Your Turn
Ok, so I’ve shared a little bit about how and why time blocking is beneficial for me. And, I provided some pointers to guide you on beginning your journey with time blocking. So, it’s time for you to put it into action. You can start with the basics and use Google Calendar or i-cal whichever you prefer. Pick a quiet space where you can look at the month and plug in all the important dates, events, and projects. Then start thinking about the goals you want to achieve. Whether it’s for work or personal goals. Break those goals down into simple easy to accomplish tasks that you can achieve over the next week. Block off designated chunks of time where you can put those tasks into action. Then keep doing it each and every week. It’s really that simple and that easy. I hope that my ridiculously simple overview of time blocking inspired you to give it a try. Or to at least look into it.
- Entrepreneur | Time Blocking Tips Top Experts and Scientists Use to Increase Productivity written by John Rampton, published on April 16, 2019