Time Chunking Method, How Bad is It?

time management Jul 23, 2020

Last week I got a text inviting me to a neighbor’s 40th birthday zoom call.  Poor girl, I thought.  A milestone birthday in quarantine.  That’s not fair.

Then I read the fine details and it said to plan on staying on the call for an hour and a half.  What?  I liked this girl but spending 90 minutes of my Saturday on a Zoom call with strangers (I didn’t recognize any other number in the group text) no thank you!

I peeked at my calendar and smiled.  The call landed on the day we leave for vacation.

Saved by the calendar. (I love my digital calendar. Here's a guide on how I've set it up.)

What if that space in my calendar was free?  Have you ever said yes to something just because your calendar was empty?  Stop that!

Let me introduce you to time chunking (aka time blocking). Its a system for making appointments with yourself every day so you can focus your energy on the most important things. Divide your day into blocks forcing you to focus on one thing at a time.  

Time chunking will remove the busy badge.  Here are some reasons you should try it:

  1. Commit to a time.  When you put a block of time into your calendar, you have to decide how much time to block off.  This forces you to think about the task and make an educated guess.  Overestimate the time you think something will take because odds are you will need it.  If you don’t, rejoice because it has given you the gift of time.
  2. Take action.  Action on that thing you’ve had on your list forever.  You know the thing that’s too important to take off the list, but you never have the time to move it forward.  When you block time to work on that thing you are committing to taking action.  You can say no to whatever threatens to take time away from your work on that thing because you have an appointment to work on that project.
  3.  Paralyze procrastination. When it’s time to sit down and write that blog post you’ve been dreading, anything else sounds better.  I always feel like grabbing a snack or cleaning or organize anything.  Time blocks keep me honest with the time I’ve set aside to get that project done.
  4. Create a record of where your time went.  It’s a luxurious feeling to be on vacation and completely lose track of time.  That same feeling is terrible when you collapse into bed after a full day at work.  Knowing you worked hard, but not knowing where you spent your time.  Time blocks are like a journal from your day.

Right about now you’re thinking this sounds a bit too rigid.

Let me share some tips on how to soften the edges.  The trick to making this work is to remain flexible.  Leave space and time between blocks.  This is vital for coffee breaks, potty breaks, or just a mental break between all that work.

Here are more tips:

  • Only block tasks that take 30 minutes or more
  • If you have a big project, book more than one chuck of time.  For example back to that blog post again, if it will take 3 hours book an hour each day Monday-Wednesday

“The Bad News is Time Flies, The Good News is You’re the Pilot” 

Time blocking/chunking is just one of the many time management strategies out there. But, it’s a popular one for good reasons. 

It takes some practice to get it right (being popular still comes with its drama).  Reach out if you want some help.  We’ve got this my friend.

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