152: Time Blocking – Friday Fundamentals

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Time is our only non-renewable resource. We don’t have limits when it comes to health, wealth, happiness, fulfillment, etc. Time, however, is limited. No matter how you spend it, there are only 24 hours in the day. So how do some people seem to accomplish so much more in the same 24 hours? We’re going to dive into that, but first let’s take a look at how people operate.

Have you ever noticed what most people’s default answer is when you ask them how they’ve been? Most people reply with something non-descriptive like “I’m  good” or even “I’m great”. One response I hear more often than not though is, “Busy”. Everyone feels busy.  Everyone is busy. In today’s world we have so many things vying for out attention – some important and others not worthy of said attention. We’re constantly inundated with news, politics, social media, emails, mail, advertisements, etc. With so much going on, it can be hard to determine what to focus on and what not to.

But one thing is certain. People are busy. And even if we’re not, we still make ourselves believe we are. Busy has become a badge we wear with honor. But are we as busy as we think?

Think to a time when you thought, I would like to *insert whatever here*, but I just don’t have time to. Then you proceed to spend hours of screen time on your phone and TV, doing things that don’t merit the time you’re devoting to them.

How does Elon Musk run 3 companies with goals to inhabit Mars, make space travel viable, build electric cars, and make solar power the main energy source on Earth? Meanwhile you’re trying to get 8 hours of sleep and simply work out 3 times a week but can’t seem to manage that. How is this possible?! What are you doing wrong?

Time just seems to slip away from you. Don’t let it do that. Rather, guard your time. Protect it. Don’t let it slip away or get consumed with actions that don’t put you closer to your goals. How? Time blocking.

Yes, the solution is time blocking. Time blocking, as defined by WikiHow, is  a type of scheduling that can help you manage your time better. Instead of working by the clock, you can focus on finishing big and small tasks one at a time. This will help you limit distractions, get things done faster, and leave you less overwhelmed by lengthy to-do lists.

One of the underlying principles of time blocking is setting aside time to do the important things first. Rather than letting your day fill up with tasks as they get thrown at you.

Let’s look at 5 ways you can start time blocking.

  1. Identify which tasks you should start time blocking first. Many have heard the Pareto Principle, more commonly referred to as the 80/20 rule. This principle says that 20% of you actions are responsible for 80% of your results. So start your time blocking calendar with adding those 20% actions. It might take you some time to identify what exactly those are, but you probably have a pretty good idea to start with.
  2. Determine how you are going to manage your calendar, either physical or electronic. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. There’s no one better option. Just use the one that works for you and that you’ll actually use. For electronic calendars, Google Calendars, Microsoft Outlook, and Calendar on Mac are all good (and free) options.
  3. Create start and stop times for your day. Determine what time you are going to start your day, and what you need to first accomplish. Do the same for the evening, when you are wrapping up your day. This will set parameters for your day, making sure you give yourself time to sleep (which needs it’s own time block alone!).
  4. Schedule that first task on your calendar. Set aside a certain amount of time to accomplish this task, uninterrupted by emails, texts, etc. Sit down and accomplish that task in the time you set aside. Don’t worry if you go over or under the time you scheduled. You can start to tweak your calendar as you go through this process.
  5. Set recurring time blocks for things you need to do every day. From morning routines, to exercise, following up with business leads, etc., there are things we have to do every day. Set those in stone in your calendar. Use them as your anchor points. Once you have all of your important tasks scheduled on your calendar, then you can start to fill up with white space with other things. Been putting that one thing off forever? Don’t worry, just put it on your calendar where you can fit it, and tackle that task.

By implementing a time blocking method to you life, you’ll begin to see it doesn’t do what you think it might. Many people think this sounds very Type A and strict. They fear their calendar will control them, and they won’t have time to do the things they want. Rather, the opposite is true. You’ll find you have more time to do the things you want, because you haven’t wasted time putting things off you need to do. You may find time to pick up a new hobby, or devote some time to the areas of your life you’ve been neglecting.

The overlying principal of time blocking is being intentional and purposeful with how you spend your most valuable resource. As long as you are doing things on your own terms, then you can at least feel in control. No more being pin balled around by the constant barrage of things coming your way. Implementing this simple time blocking strategy will give you back the time you’ve been missing.

All to often, we trick ourselves, at best, and lie to ourselves at worst, by saying “I don’t have time for that”. This isn’t exactly true. You have time for anything you want. The question is, what are you making time for?

Your time is your most precious resource, yet one that is wasted the most. Guard your time. Spend it on your own terms. Do the things that are important to you. If you’ll do these things, you’ll find you have so much more time to find new challenges, experience new things, and ultimately, life the live you want.

 

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