How to Start Time Blocking and Stop Being Distracted by Yourself

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Time blocking is a productivity technique that can be really beneficial for your work and relationships. It helps you get on track with your goals and priorities, while eliminating distractions. It can also help you to feel less stressed and more in control of your time.

As Nir Eyal says - Most people have no right to complain, you cant call something a distraction if you don’t know what its distracting you from, but how do you know what you got distracted from if you don’t plan your time.

In a busy environment or job, time blocking is essential to respecting your time, others time and vital to keeping your deliverables on track.

What is time blocking?

Most people have difficulty concentrating for a long period of time. When this happens, they often get distracted by themselves and lose their train of thought. Time blocking is a method to help you stay focused on one task for a set amount of time. It is also known as timeboxing.

What is a time block?

A time block is a set amount of time, usually 30 to 60 minutes, that you block off to work on a single project or task.

What are the benefits of time blocking ?

Whether you're a professional, an entrepreneur, freelancer, or student, time blocking is a great way to stay focused and accomplish more in your day.

Time blocking will not only help you stay on top of deadlines but will also save you from a lot of stress and mental exhaustion, rushing to deadlines and multi-tasking in Zoom meetings.

We dedicate time to cleaning out house which means we can relax, we dedicate time to being at work (even when working from home) so the thought of setting time aside for important pieces of work isn’t a far stretch from common life behaviours.

The impacts of time blocking can include:

  • Measurable increase in tangible work output
  • Potential increase in quality of work
  • Reduction of stress and anxiety when facing deadlines
  • Improved stakeholder management skills

What can threaten your time blocking

Procrastination

Procrastination is another entire topic however when wanting to start time blocking, if you find yourself procrastinating, it’s commonly because you don’t fully understand the work you are meant to be time blocking or you want to delay and avoid it all together.

To overcome procrastination when planning to time block, your session with a simple, easy to complete task, then do the next one task and so on. before you know it, you’re into the swing of it.

Time Wasting

Time wasting is different to procrastination. Time wasting is going into a session, expecting to be productive but you’re either not in the mood, haven’t set your self up in a comfortable space, don’t have the tools you need or haven’t set up your workflow to be successful.

Prepare yourself before starting, even time block at the start of the day to prepare yourself. get a drink, adjust your chair, prep your food for the day, make sure you have all the artefacts and information you need.

Distractions

So you’re ready, have your tasks, have all you need and ‘DING’, an email comes in, your phone rings or that message app goes off.

This one is pretty straight forward. turn your devices onto silent, mute notifications and set expectations with family and colleagues that you’re going into time block.

Getting Started with Time Blocking

If you’re constantly getting distracted and can’t focus on the task at hand, here are some simple steps to help you get started with time blocking.

Set a rhythm. After though time, you’ll have your own rhythm in place. Personally, I set a 20 minute limit to each time block because after 20 minutes, productivity goes down without a pulse check. That also means I get 3 big tasks done in 1 hour rather then 2. Parkinson’s Law states we will take up the time allocated to complete a task so rather than longer time blocks for a big task, split the bigger tasks down and maintain your 20 minute time block. this also trains your body and mind to get use to that period of time.

Set expectations with people who may need you during a time block is important because it reduces your risk of distraction. it also creates commitments and helps people respect your time because your time is valuable.

lock it in, put it in the calendar. Commit to it and be accountable to yourself to achieve that time block.

Don’t fascinate about apps. Occums Rasor dictates the simplest method is the most impactful so just use your calendar.

What tools do you need for time blocking ?

You can't be successful at anything if you're constantly getting distracted by your own thoughts. The only way to avoid distractions and achieve success is through deliberate time blocking.

First tool is to simple be educated in what time blocking really is which is what I hope you’re getting from this post.

Second tool is your calendar.

Third tool is commitment to getting it and the work done.

How do I start Time Blocking?

It can be challenging to figure out where to start time blocking. You want to make sure you are not blocking yourself from the things you need to get done, but you also want to make sure you are setting up the perfect environment for yourself to be productive.

The first thing you need to do is determine what your goals are for the time block session. What is your minimum expected outcome or output which should lead to your projects impact statement.

Have everything ready, everything you need to get the job done without breaking your time block.

Lock in it your calendar.

Set expectations.

Get into your workflow and be successful.