Win Back Hours in the Day with Time Blocking
If you’re like most business owners, you wear many hats – human resources, sales, accounting, operations, CEO – and you juggle them all.
With limited hours in a work day, your daily schedule is sacred and the key to your productivity.
How you manage your time is the difference between you taking control of your business and your business taking control of you.
It’s no wonder then that Time Mastery is part of ActionCOACH’s first step to a successful business.
Through ActionCOACH’s coaching, you’ll learn how to get more done in less time by learning time blocking and time management skills.
Conduct a Time Study
When ActionCOACH works with clients on time management, one of the first recommendations they make is for the client to conduct a simple time study.
A time study is a review of how you currently spend your time throughout a typical work day.
The client tracks their activities each hour of the day in a spreadsheet or by using an online time-tracking tool.
While it may seem like a chore in itself, recording the time you spend on tasks helps you prioritize responsibilities, reduce procrastination, analyze your current time usage, and change any practices that eat away your time.
Having a basic understanding of where your time goes will help you eliminate tasks that aren’t the best use of your time.
After you’ve conducted and reviewed your time study with a coach, you’ll be able to start making the most of the hours in your work day by time blocking.
Plan Your Week with Time Blocking
A to-do list may not be enough to facilitate productivity for your workday.
While it’s a great practice to get tasks out of your head and written down onto paper, how often are you sidetracked from your to-dos by emails, spur-of-the-moment meetings, or “quick questions” from employees?
All of these distractions will take you away from truly getting work done.
One way that you can avoid the distractions is by planning your week in advance with time blocking.
Time blocking is the practice of dividing the day into blocks of time and assigning specific projects and responsibilities to each block.
Time blocking takes your daily to-dos and assigns a dedicated amount of time to them.
This way, you have control over the tasks that you want and need to get done, making it more difficult for others to take advantage of your time.
Prioritize Tasks by Importance, then Deadlines
When you start time blocking, make sure to take into consideration a task’s importance first, and then it’s urgency or deadline.
There is a concept called ‘tyranny of the urgent’ that you may be familiar with. Essentially, your time is spent reacting to the most urgent demands and, as a result, you never get to the really important work that doesn’t have the same urgency.
Instead of succumbing to urgency, focus first on prioritizing tasks based on their importance in achieving your goals. Next, consider the deadlines you have committed to and schedule your important tasks accordingly.
For instance, if you have a high priority project that is due on Thursday, you should block out time for production work on Monday and Tuesday. Any tasks that are of lower priority should be moved to later in the week.
Organize Tasks into Daily Themes or Categories
If you’re a busy entrepreneur, you may want to time block by grouping tasks in the various areas of your business into daily themes or categories, such as marketing, sales, human resources, accounting, and business development.
With day theming, you dedicate a whole day to tasks surrounding a specific area of your business.
For example, if you’re in charge of marketing, you may want to dedicate all related tasks, such as writing your weekly email and scheduling social media posts, to a single day. By grouping these tasks together, you’ll also create and maintain a consistent message across all channels.
Tackling HR-related tasks such as recruitment, engagement, and performance management may be ear-marked for another day of the week.
Giving each day a single theme will offer you more mental clarity, help you avoid cognitive overload, and create a more reliable work pattern.
Group Similar Tasks with Task Batching
In addition to day-theming, you should also time block based on daily tasks. These daily tasks may include email, phone calls, planning, paperwork, networking, writing, and research.
The practice of task batching is where you group similar daily activities together and complete them all at once.
For example, you may want to dedicate a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the afternoon to clearing your inbox and answering phone calls.
By blocking out these time periods on your calendar, you’ll be more efficient and focused throughout the day, and less concerned about checking your email notifications every 15 minutes.
Depending on your business, you might even want to consider setting up automatic email replies to your team members or customers notifying them that you check emails at X and Y times of the day, so they know they will not receive a response until the designated times.
The same practice can be applied to your voicemail and returning phone calls.
If you struggle to find the time and mental space to do your best work and grow your business, a business coach can help you implement time blocking and time management techniques. He or she will also hold you accountable so you’ll be more productive, efficient, and focused. You’ll gain the structure you need to bring all of your mental resources to one single activity at a time each day.