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How Time Blocking Gives You Control Over Your Schedule

accountability goal setting professional development Mar 15, 2021

Do you ever feel like your calendar is running you instead of the other way around? Especially in our mostly virtual world, it can be easy to lose track of your scheduled boundaries and personal time. Most of us aren’t “leaving the office”, we’re just signing off and moving from the desk to the couch. Jumping on a quick call or replying to a late email can be easy to get in the habit of doing because there isn’t a separate location for us to leave and mentally sign out of work. 

How do we gain control over our calendars again? Start with time blocking. The art of time blocking is a great practice to start building into your day to keep yourself on track. Essentially, time blocking is just that - blocking out your calendar for specific tasks. For instance, maybe you are most focused in the mornings, so you block out that time to get next steps on big projects done. Instead of jumping on a bunch of calls or meetings, you focus on getting that work done. Then in the afternoon, you block out your call availability. 

Now you may be thinking, what if I have an internal call I have to be on? Know that time blocking is a unique practice. Everyone’s blocks will look different and some will have more control over their schedules than others. You may not be able to control every part of your schedule, but work with what flexibility you can. 

Even if you have a strict schedule from school, athletics or with your company, time block with what free time or open time you have, even if it’s just a couple hours each day. Get in the habit of figuring out when you will tackle your projects, and when you will give yourself space to have time for yourself. 

Remove Time Wasting Decisions

What time blocking allows you to do is simplify the decisions you are making during the day. Instead of looking at your calendar to say “when do I want to do this call?” or “when will I have time to work on this project?” you now already know the answer. The simple idea of knowing when you’ll get work done each day is important. 

If Tuesday afternoons are when you take calls, you know most of your work has to get done in the morning. An automated calendar tool like Calendly or Acuity are great to use and enforce your time blocking for others. Just shoot them your scheduling link and you don’t have to go back and forth about scheduling! 

Improve Accountability

By creating time blocks, you are giving yourself a road map of what needs to get done. Be specific on what you will use your time for, and make sure to leave some blank space in your calendar. Not every minute needs to be blocked out. Maybe you block out an hour or two of your morning for a project and an hour at the end of your day for email catch up. 

You can create your own road map for the day and check in to see how you did. Maybe you didn’t give yourself enough time for a project. Or most likely, a meeting or call got in the way. Having that specific time for a project on the calendar helps you make sure to still find time to get it done. If a call comes up, adjust your calendar for that work project so it still happens. Be flexible when you first set these blocks of time, and know that you’ll continue to tweak and improve. 

See the Big Picture More Clearly

Days fly by, and if you aren’t allocating your time properly, you may look up and two weeks have passed since you touched a project. Time blocking helps you stay focused and consistent in your efforts. Build in those small steps to the calendar and you’ll know you're making progress each week. If you have a big project due, break it down into smaller chunks and block out when you’ll knock out each phase. That way you know you are making progress towards the big picture goals you have. 

It takes some time up front to block out your calendar, but if you get in the habit of allocating time to get your work done each day and each week, and not leaving it up to random chance, you will be more productive. Remember, you control your calendar. Take ownership over when things get done and when you are available as much as possible. You will see more progress and more breathing room at the end of the day. Plus, you’ll feel at ease knowing you got what you needed to get done!