Time management is one of those key skill sets that teams place a high premium on, but often fall short of maintaining. In this installment of The Productivity Box, we want to introduce you to time-blocking—a technique that will help you and your team reclaim the workday.
A recent survey found that 82 percent of workers do not have a time management plan. In addition, almost half never perform a time audit to examine how productive their current schedule is. Most importantly, this lack of time management can have a serious impact.
How can you create an effective time management system that employees stick with—and that also delivers strong performance outcomes? Let’s dive right in.
Why is time management important?
Time is a valuable but finite resource. Yet it’s easily wasted. To use it wisely requires strategic coordination and allocation.
Another recent poll analyzed the effects of good time management on employee workflow and well-being and the results speak for themselves. Of the total respondents:
- 91 percent say time management will lower work-related stress.
- 90 percent say time management will increase levels of productivity.
- 84 percent say time management will help to accelerate goal achievements.
- 83 percent say time management will improve decision-making abilities.
The good news is, once time management becomes a habit, you can reap many benefits.
What is the time-blocking technique?
There are many ways to leverage better time management but time-blocking is one of my favorites. With it, you organize similar tasks into batched time slots to maximize each minute of your schedule. If that seems daunting, don’t worry! With some practice, time-blocking is both an easy and impactful solution. You’ll wonder what you ever did before it!
The latest 2023 Work Trends Index shows that, even though work hours have increased within the last few years, 68 percent of employees still lack enough uninterrupted focus time to do everything.
With this technique, you assign a deliberate chunk of time for all the daily tasks on your agenda—from meetings and collaborative projects to lunch breaks and self-care activities. Time-blocking helps you execute job deliverables, while also prioritizing rest and other commitments. This creates a healthier work-life balance as well, helping you improve your life as a whole.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you start time-blocking your schedule.
Group all tasks
Identify similar items on your list and batch them together in the same time slot. For instance, creating a social media post can share a slot with writing a newsletter and brainstorming new content ideas. Since all of these tasks are creative in nature, it makes sense to concentrate on them within a cohesive block of time.
This cuts down on context-switching (when you oscillate between two or more unrelated functions) in order to elevate performance accuracy and efficiency.
Make it visual
Use either a physical or virtual calendar when time-blocking so you can visualize how all these time slots are mapped out over the course of a workday. You can even color-code each block to distinguish it from the others or to call attention to various categories
Example: red for collaborative tasks, blue for solo projects, green for rest or leisure activities, yellow for high-priority or time-sensitive items, orange for administrative work etc.
This will prevent scheduling conflicts and ensure that you remain on track to finish all your deliverables within the specific time frame allotted.
Assign each minute
Account for every single moment of your schedule. This might sound excessive, but if you’re not meticulous, you won’t optimize the full benefits of time-blocking.
Here’s a sample breakdown of how thorough and precise you can be when creating your time-blocked calendar:
- 7:30–8AM: Wake up, get ready, exercise
- 8–8:45AM: Shower, breakfast
- 8:45–9:30AM: Check/respond to messages on Hubgets, emails, calls
- 9:30–10AM: Team meeting
- 10–12:30PM: Focused time for new presentation
- 12:30–1:30PM: Lunch break, outdoor walk
- 1:30–2PM: Brainstorm session with co-worker
- 2–3:45PM: Focused time for writing new content
- 3:45–4:30PM: Feedback/revisions on team collaboration
- 4:30–5PM: Check EOD communications
- 5–5:15PM: Prep for tomorrow, log off work platforms
Time-blocking boosts productivity
Time-blocking enhances productivity for one simple but critical reason: it allows you to reclaim control of your schedule. According to the same time management survey referenced earlier, 25 percent of workers just do whatever project seems the most important at any given moment, but one in four who operate this way agree their work is never (or rarely) under control.
This can result in feelings of stress, overwhelm, chaos, or procrastination, all of which sabotage your performance. On the flip side, a high locus of control over your schedule, activities, and workflow helps you feel more autonomous on the job, Frontiers in Psychology explains.
This can ultimately boost intrinsic motivation, team contributions, and overall satisfaction, maximizing your performance outcomes as a result. So, get out of The Productivity Box and make time your ally!