Hey, Roses, you have requested a guide on time blocking so I got to work. However, there is so much to say and teach about this topic that it will have to be divided into several blog posts, haha.
Having said that it is totally worth it, and if done correctly, it can really change the way you deliver on your daily commitments.
Time blocking can help you get rid of procrastination and zero in the chances of you not accomplishing your goals. However, it is not for everyone and requires much discipline and commitments to yourself, so if you have enough of long to-do lists and are ready to do things differently then this method might be for you.
What is that, huh?
Time blocking is a productivity method consisting of arranging your tasks per blocks of time. The tasks group are organised by category and are then placed strategically inside of blocks of time that you would have determined according to your energy level and the time of day where you are most productive.
The key to this method is to make your work a priority, you can, of course, define work as you wish, but it has to be your most important life enterprise. (MILE)
The most important life enterprise:
The MILE is a framework that I created and teach that allow being proactive but in a way that promotes personal and professional growth.
In other words, it is the one thing that you need to accomplish to be genuinely yourself and truly thriving. Before we dig more into the topic, Here is a checklist of the prep work involved for true-time blocking.
Reverse engineer your goals
The best way for you to determine your MILE statement is to reverse engineer your ultimate goal for the next 5 years.
By understanding how to achieve your goal this way, you are making it almost a scientific project where failure is not really an option. Now you know where you are heading and when to start your journey, your goal is no longer a vague dream but a real project that you can be proactive about today.
This is a simple example, but you can break this down as granularly as you want to, of course, breaking it down per year, months, weeks and days….this is the best way to see a clear path to your goal and lose the fear to get started with the work right now.
MILE’S for days
So first let’s see the difference between MILE and an ultimate goal.
MILE is a sort of personal Vision statement that you utter, and that is broken down by phases.
It is time-bound to the next MILE.
It is your life enterprise and an expression of the best you can be or the best you aim to achieve.
You can determine MILE’s for different aspects of your life (family, career, relationships, spiritual so on and so forth)It is the big vision and master plan superseding all your goals for this specific life area.
Here is how to write your MILE statement:
Your MILE can be broken down by phases (a simple plan of action to conquer the world lol), with goals to be accomplished in between to accomplish your MILE phases.
Here is my MILE statement and my 3 phases:
My MILE (for career and wealth):
I want to be financially independent in 5 years and create a community of true art lovers and high performers.I want to provide unmatched products and services to help my community of artists, creatives and crafters rise to the top of their creativity and productivity game.
Here is my MILE defined by phases, I go way more granular, but these are the 3 main phases then I break each phase down by goals to accomplish, and I schedule them as I go.
- Ultimate goal P1: launch an online store to sell my art.
- Ultimate goal P2: launch a club with educational materials
Once you have defined those phases of actions, you can add goals to achieve this MILE’stones or phases. Sub-milestones will be added to your goals located in between phases as seen on the graph above…Don't sweat it, they are just Normal milestones for regular goals.
MILE is about planning towards an ultimate life enterprise or project…It has nothing to do with a priority or something urgent to do. MILE is about aiming at change and personal growth, you should make time for it, distraction-free, daily, even if it is 30min a day.
The most crucial concern for you is your vision and where you are heading, make time for it every day!
Learn to say "no"
Now that you have defined your MILE, you need to make sure that you can do what you set out to do and avoid all distractions at all cost!
Remember saying no to others is saying yes to yourself, it is not really a negative but rather a positive reoriented towards a higher goal and a better you.
A mother of three with a lovely husband sits down with her partner one day really upset.
She is complaining about the fact that she can’t say no to others and as a result, she is late on all of her commitments to herself.
Her husband sad and truly disappointed replies saying “you can’t say no to all those people, but you say "no" to your family every day” ( true story)
What is the real gold nugget to takeout here?
Saying "no" is not a real thing, you just have to prioritise, "no" is not a weapon but rather a tool in your arsenal to sort through the noise and focus on what really matters in your life.
Why is task blocking ideally suited for you?….or not?
There is no magic bullet when it comes to productivity, no perfect solutions. However, time blocking can be the right fit for most people. It tackles two shortcomings when it comes to productivity: procrastination and prioritisation.
Here is a list of reasons why time blocking could be the right solution for you:
This list can go on and on, but the most essential aspect to my opinion is that you will finally gain more insights and control over your time and allow it to expand for what it is you want to accomplish.
Time blocking how-to?
Do a brain dump.
If you want to avoid feeling overwhelmed, grab your trusty tablet or a simple piece of paper and unload your mind of everything that is cluttering your vision.
Start by writing everything you have to do, tasks, all the reminders, appointments, personal commitments, daily commutes, rituals and recurring things like bills or subscriptions. You should also include goals and dreams in the mix or stuff you would like to get started in the future.
Once you are done, you should feel like a weight just lifted off your shoulders.
No need to do this daily but depending on how busy you can get, you should aim at doing it at least every 10 days. I personally do this once a week on a Saturday morning.
Identify your priorities
If you have done all the necessary prep work, you know what your MILE is, and you know that everything else should be planned around it.
Now you need to identify your most important and most urgent things to do for the day or week you are working on.
Your MILE has to do with your vision and five-year goal, your priorities have to do with you daily or weekly to do's and things that can also include other people’s tasks and to do’s.
Your MILE will not really change unless you change your life vision and your priorities always change depending on what is current in your life.
Now that we cleared up any confusion, let’s list a few frameworks you can use to determine your priorities:
- Urgent and vital
- Necessary but not urgent
- Critical but not important
- Neither urgent not important
- A to your most important tasks
- B for important (but not necessarily urgent)
- C for perhaps
- D for delegate
- E for eliminating
Prepare your daily blueprint and task type.
Block out your day/week
Now you have done all of the prep work, and you have identified your priorities and time-bound commitments, here is how it looks like, in practice, this is my day blocked out, and it is usually the same for 5 days of the week, I have another schedule for weekends.
This schedule is quite tight and works pretty well for me (even if I dream of the day when I can delegate some of the work lol) however you do not need to get obsessed to block out everything, just make it as flexible as possible for your needs and make it realistic too.
Sometimes I would have to adjust my schedule and move entire blocks to fit my needs, so it remains pretty flexible for me.
I have the most energy in the morning, and I do not need much sleep to feel rested so this works for me.
If I feel tired I will skip my social media in the morning and do it on weekends to catch up on the delay, or I take 5 mins time mini-slots to quickly post during the day (never more than 5 min though!)… I always make sure that I gain enough rest.
The infographic compares the daily time management of most people and highly productive individuals.
Block’s transition and extra tips
Make sure to also plan the transition from block to block. I work from home, so I do not have to count the commute to work or anything like that. You might have to.
If it takes you more than 20 min to get to work and you take a coffee before work with your colleagues, then this time has to be included in your schedule to avoid disruptions in your plan.
This framework is meant to be rigid in nature so that it forces you to commit. It is not for everyone, but you will find that the busier you get, the more you will feel the need for this kind of systematic approach, so stick to the plan you have outlined. Your productivity will really improve rapidly, and you will get measurable results.
Turn off all noise and adust your environment. You might have to find a place at home to work, a room that is yours where people know not to disturb you, primarily when you work on your MILE phases.
If you are working with a team of people make sure to let them know that from this time to this time you will be otherwise occupied, and you need some alone time, specify how long too so that people see when you are available again ….subtle way to say no.
Don’t Be Intimidated… Just Get Started
So now it is your turn to start time blocking and form this very healthy habit. It takes 60 days at least to develop this type of life-changing practice, but it is totally worth it, it will change your life!
Most big thinkers and hyper proactive people like Elon Musk only uses this method to make our world a better place, we can all do it at our level and gain tranquillity of mind in the process!
Make sure to check out this awesome template pack while you at it to get started with time blocking and get familiar with the method that we apply here at Progipad!
Comment below or in the Facebook group, I really want to hear from you!