How I Started Time Blocking and Why It Might Not Work for You

time management Aug 26, 2021

I’m going to date myself right now but I used to lug around this ginormous book aka my day timer. If you were born after 1980, you’ve probably never heard the term day timer.

I can hear you laughing, but let me explain.


This was in the days before smartphones (and dinosaurs roamed the earth 🤣). I was in love with the idea of a calendar, to-do list and address book all in one place.  Looking back on it, this big book might have been a contributing factor to my back issues.


This prototype for the iPhone was the genius work of Stephen Covey. One thing I still use today that Covey taught me was the concept of time blocking. 


“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” 


What is time blocking anyways?

Time blocking is a time management method that asks you to divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task, or group of tasks and nothing else!


Here’s how I use time blocking today:

  1. I start with my Sunday morning ritual.  I always wake up before the rest of my house, so on Sunday mornings I use that time to plan the week ahead. It’s my time to take stock of what’s important on my task list and make a rough sketch of my blocks for each day.
  2. Next I refer to my ideal week.  This is my foundation for how I plan out my days.  Making sure I have time each week for my priorities. Is every week ideal?  Of course not!  Go here to find out how to create one for yourself.
  3. At the end of each day, I look ahead to tomorrow’s priorities and time blocks.  I make adjustments for tasks I didn’t complete and new things that may have landed on my plate.
  4. The magic happens when I wake up each day and don’t have to waste any time figuring out what I have to focus on.  It’s just time to execute.


Why Day Theming may be a better choice

Does blocking time off in your schedule make your skin crawl?


Or maybe you’ve tried time blocking in the past and it made you feel scattered and unfocused.


That’s ok. Not every system is right for you or your situation.  Here’s an alternative that might work for you: Day Theming.

Day theming is choosing a specific area of responsibility and just working on that area for the entire day.  For example if you’re a writer, you could write Monday, Wed, Friday.  On Tuesday you work on your administrative tasks and Thursday you focus on marketing.


One advantage of day theming is you can really get into a flow state.  It allows you to focus on one thing for an entire day without the time constraints of chopping up your days.


Another plus, you don’t suffer the loss of productivity from context switching.  Basically when you flit from one thing to another it takes a few moments for your brain to focus on the new task.  


For example, say while you are reading this article you get a text from a friend.  You instinctively read the text, then come back to this sentence.  As you come back to these words, part of your brain is still on that text message.


In Conclusion

However you choose to structure your day, just make sure you’re in control.  Time blocking and day theming are just 2 options.  I will dive into some others in future blog posts.  Share with me in the comments what method is working for you.

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