How to Time Block Effectively

Learning how to schedule your day for maximum productivity can make a world of difference for even the most experienced project manager. Of all the productivity practices and systems out there, time blocking has become a popular choice among professionals of all stripes. In fact, it’s reported that Tesla founder and CEO, Elon Musk uses a time blocking schedule to organize his daily activities. As one of the busiest yet productive people on earth, that’s a pretty solid endorsement for combining time blocking and project management

So, what is time blocking, and how can you use time blocking software to more effectively schedule and manage tasks within projects? Read on to learn more about how to time block and why it's a useful and versatile productivity hack.

What is time blocking?

Time blocking is a simple yet powerful approach to scheduling activities and tasks that helps block out distractions, boost focus, and improve productivity. In fact, there are different ways to adapt time blocking to your own busy schedule. 

With a time blocking schedule, each task, activity, or day is outlined and planned then executed in a focused, distraction-free “sprint." 

You can use time blocking to group specific types of tasks together. For example:

  • 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. – Reply to the emails and messages received while out of hours
  • 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. – Make client calls for the day
  • 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Campaign work 
  • 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Admin

Another type of time blocking can involve marking out days of the week for specific duties. While some professionals may choose to have “no meetings days," you may decide to segment your week in other ways. For example: Mondays are creative days; Tuesdays are admin days; Wednesdays are client meeting/offsite days — and so on. 

The reason time blocking is so effective is that, when done correctly, it eliminates multitasking and reduces distractions — which are known productivity killers

Just think about it: how many times throughout the day do you find yourself mentally engaged on a particular task when you’re suddenly jolted out of that concentrated state by an email alert or a Slack notification? Did you know that every time that happens, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back on track with what you were doing? Not exactly the definition of efficiency. 

Why time blocking and project management go hand in hand

While time blocking can be an effective tool for any professional, it’s particularly useful for project managers who must oversee multiple team members while tackling a variety of tasks and to-dos themselves. As a PM, you must find a balance between meeting and coordinating with your team and allowing them the space and time for creative work. This is where time blocking and project management really gel. 

Create a time blocking schedule so you can easily designate specific days and times for meeting with your project team. In turn, your team members can begin filling in the rest of their calendars around those meetings with blocks of distraction-free time where they can focus without fear of interruption. 

Of course, as the PM, it’s your responsibility to enforce the time blocking strategy by not dropping in on team members in the midst of a creative time block or calling unexpected, unscheduled meetings.

Can time blocking software increase productivity?

Distractions can be a huge time-suck and it’s pretty clear that a time blocking schedule can help boost productivity by keeping you and your team members more focused. To that end, time blocking software can help you visualize and map out your daily, weekly, and monthly calendars for maximum efficiency. 

What’s more, time blocking software can help you refine your schedule by tracking how long it takes to complete certain tasks that you repeat on a routine basis. When you know how long it realistically takes you to complete those tasks, you’ll be able to more effectively schedule them in the future. Additionally, with the right software in place, you can set sprint timers to let you know when it’s time to take a break or move to the next task. 

How do I create a time blocking schedule?

Creating a time blocking schedule is pretty straightforward. Learn how to time block by following these few simple steps:

  1. Make a list of all the tasks, to-dos, and meetings that make up your work week. 
    Before you can prioritize and schedule your time, you need to have a handle on all the tasks and to-dos that require your attention. This includes meetings and administrative tasks such as attending to your inbox. 
  2. Estimate how much time to allocate to each task.
    To start time blocking, you need to have at least a rough estimate of how long each task takes. Remember, you can always refine this as you go; for your initial estimate, though, try to be as accurate as possible and account for time that you normally waste or spend on distractions. 
  3. Factor in some flexible time for unexpected events and surprises.
    While it would be nice to schedule every minute of our day perfectly for maximum efficiency, the reality is that life throws us unexpected surprises sometimes. Factoring in some wiggle room to your schedule to account for these events will help you remain flexible enough to attend to these matters without completely losing grasp on your whole day.
  4. Implement your time blocks in your calendar app or work management system. 
    The last step is putting your time blocking schedule to work in your project management system or calendar app of choice. Remember, setting alarms to alert you to the end of a designated sprint can help keep you on track with your time blocks. 

How to time block and schedule your day for maximum productivity

When combined with the right work management platform, a time blocking schedule can help you make the most of every day. With Wrike, you’ll not only have a robust project management solution to help you keep projects on track, but you’ll also have access to powerful digital calendars that can help you block time, coordinate with team members and stakeholders, and easily update and reschedule tasks as needed. 

Give Wrike a try for two weeks for free and see how this powerful solution can help you block time and boost productivity. Fill out the form below to get started today!

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