Being productive starts with good time management. Most of us use some sort of calendar to manage our time. We are good about marking down appointments, scheduling meetings and noting deadlines. But, what happens in between those scheduled time slots is our biggest missed opportunity.
For years, I have used a methodology I call “time blocking” or more fondly my own version of “productivity Tetris.” So, here’s how you play.
At the start of the week pick a set time to start the game. First, review your calendar for the week ahead to make sure all of our appointments and meetings have been entered and are up-to-date. Next, make note of the things you must get done that week and start slotting them into the open spaces on your calendar making sure you schedule them ahead of any deadlines. At the end or beginning of each day, review and confirm your schedule and then pick the Top Three things you need to get done and slot them in between your scheduled items.
Be sure to go ahead and block times to handle recurring tasks such as submitting your timesheet at the end of the week or your expense report at the end of the month, paying your bills weekly, or taking a walk or doing yoga several times a week. By blocking these time slots you’ll have set aside the necessary time to make sure these things get done on time and you don’t forget about them or find yourself rushing to get them done at the last minute.
Once your day is fully time blocked then you simply work through it according to the plan. Always allow for more time to complete a task than you think is necessary. If you finish the task sooner then you can reward yourself with a break – a snack, social media surfing or a quick chat with a friend.
If, and when, something comes up that disrupts your day, then it’s time to play “Tetris” and rearrange your time blocks. First, determine how to make time for the disruption and then move around the other time blocks. By doing this, you’ll still be sure to have dedicated time for the things you wanted to get done.
If your calendar supports it, try color coding your time blocks so you can visually see how you’re spending your time and to make it easier to identify which blocks can be moved around.