One of my biggest challenges is time management, and I know that I am not alone! As a solo entrepreneur I need to juggle so many varied tasks each week and it can be a struggle to find the time to complete them all. But whether you work 9-5, are a stay at home parent, or are managing a household in retirement, taking control of your schedule is key to accomplishing your goals and having time for fun and leisure. I’m always on the lookout for new techniques for managing my time, and I recently came across one that has really helped me get more done: time blocking.
Time blocking is the simple idea of assigning categories of tasks to specific times of the day. Grouping similar tasks together saves mental energy and allows you to get more done in less time. Your time blocks will be completely specific to your life, work, and responsibilities.
To create your own time blocking plan, you should start with a list of all the things you typically need to accomplish each day and at least a rough estimate of how long each one will take. Group tasks together by category, such as those you do sitting at your desk versus those you do on the go. Here’s a look at the time block schedule I’ve created for myself:
Here are a few other tips for making the most of this productivity technique:
1. Think about your energy throughout the day and schedule accordingly. I am most alert and creative in the late morning hours, so I schedule my most demanding tasks such as writing, planning courses and promotions, and addressing my bookkeeping during that time. Working on client projects is fun and engaging for me, so I schedule those tasks in the afternoon when my energy is a little lower.
2. Shoot for blocks that are 2-4 hours long. Remember, multiple tasks can be assigned to a single block, and this duration allows for some flexibility while still making time for everything you need to accomplish.
3. Recognize your days might be different throughout the week. The schedule I created is for a day when I am working from home, but I also have outside meetings and client appointments to fit in. I try to schedule those during my morning or afternoon work blocks, and on those days the appointment takes the place of some of that work time.
4. Keep your morning and evening routines the same throughout the week. Even if your weekends look much different from your weekdays, try to stick to the same sleeping schedule and tasks you do to prepare for the day in the morning and wind down at night.
5. Set alarms to remind yourself when it’s time to move on to the next block. Not only does this keep you on task but it provides motivation to get everything done before you’re prompted to go to the next thing.
6. Set aside time for fun, not just work! The key to getting to those things you enjoy – hobbies, downtime, connecting with your family – is to schedule it into your day. I have a couple hours blocked out at the end of each day for craft projects, reading, watching TV or YouTube, and generally just relaxing. This is essential to keep from feeling like all I do is work!
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