Whether you’re a high speed executive or a customer service guru, you’re always going to have the chaos of “noise” hounding you and vying for your time. What I mean by noise is (to use a $10 word) the quotidian tasks that you face everyday which may include answering phone calls, replying to emails, attending unexpected meetings, and dealing with interruption after interruption – while these may seemingly be important, may distract you from accomplishing things on your priorities list and may deter you from completing “big picture” projects. What’s the solution to all this noise? Two words – Time Block. A Time Block or Time Blocking is time set aside during the day, free from distractions, to work on specific projects or tasks that you will devote your full attention to. This will not only boost your productivity, but help you maintain and focus important projects that need to be completed.
Set A Time Blocking Goal
What do you want to accomplish during your Time Blocking Session? Is there a pressing project that you have to complete or a series of tasks? You must know these things BEFORE you start to time block, otherwise you’ll be in the same noisy situation you were before time blocking, lacking focus and clarity. Time Blocking is about being proactive instead of reactive. You want to have a clear goal or target in mind during your session and do your best to stay focused on that goal. You may also find that a little pre-planning will help you focus as well.
Honor the Time you Time Block
The time you set aside for Time Blocking is important and you should by all means honor that. Explain to your coworkers, family, whomever, in a firm yet respectful tone that your time during your Time blocking session is to be honored. The onus is on you to make sure that people are aware that you are Time Blocking before you actually begin. You can even set an automatic out of office reply stating you are time blocking and you’ll reach back out after the time blocking session is over. I find that scheduling 1 hour sessions (at a minimum) help me advance the current project I’m focusing on and utilize the time efficiently. Anything less, it seems, fizzles out any momentum gained from working on a project.
Organize your Physical Space
You want to minimize as much distractions as possible. I work in an open office environment and distractions are everywhere. In fact an open office environment is a distraction minefield! I have to physically move to another part of the office and block out all the noise with headphones to concentrate on my Time Blocking tasks. I also find that a decluttered physical space helps with concentration during time blocking as well. You are physically removing any distractions and by doing so, you are removing mental distractions. You may find that you may need to relocate to another location if permitted. Cafes or Bookstores are great places to get work done. Also consider coworking spaces or even working from home.
Get Work Done – Focus, Focus, Focus
The President of the company I work for has the email signature “Focus, Focus, Focus” and this is exactly what you need to do while Time blocking. Eliminate all distractions including shutting off your phone (or at least silencing it), turning off your email client (in my case shutting down outlook), and closing unnecessary windows on your desktop (if you’re Time blocking with your computer). You will need to put the most amount of effort into focusing on the tasks at hand. This will probably be the hardest part of Time Blocking. There’s so much noise in the world we live in, we want to constantly check our emails, phones, social media, etc… so there’s a constant battle for your attention. It’s only going to get worse with technology. Time Blocking should be intentional, you will have to make the decision to remove the distractions of life, focus on completing your work, and honor the time in which you have specifically set aside.
I hope everyone has the opportunity to Time Block!
Thanks for reading!