I've always prided myself on being an extremely efficient worker. But ever since I started a new job in October, I've noticed a pretty significant change. Lately, I've been starting a project, getting distracted, sending an email, taking a phone call, starting another project, getting distracted again… Needless to say, I don't get anything done, and I'm exhausted by the end of the workday.
I finally made a change, in hopes I would gain more control of my workday. I started using a technique called time blocking, which involves scheduling time slots for each to-do list item. This is something I learned from my former co-worker (Marie, if you're reading this, thank you). The idea with time blocking is that you'll accomplish more by focusing on less.
At least for me, the technique has worked wonders. It provides structure to my day, allows me to focus on and complete a single task, and enables me to track the time I spend on projects.
How to Get Started with Time Blocking
- Create a list of tasks that need to be completed over the course of the next day or week. Use this as an opportunity to brain-dump everything, whether it be writing a report, attending a meeting, or sending a follow up email.
- Take it one step further by indicating the amount of time you expect each task will require. Note your top three non-negotiable tasks that must be completed. These tasks are usually attached to organizational/program goals and upcoming deadlines.
- Using a planner or online calendar, schedule your ideal day. Start by dedicating time for your top three non-negotiable tasks, and finish by filling in the calendar with your remaining to-do list items. You might want to consider combining small tasks (responding to emails, posting on social media, etc.) into a miscellaneous category. But do whatever works for you!
- Now it’s time to transform your plans into action. Try your best to stick to your work plan, while remembering that you may need to adjust your day.
I hope this planning techniques helps you accomplish your goals for the day/week! And don't forget to share your productivity hacks in the comments below.