Back-to-school season is one of those times of year when we swear we’re going to get it together. We’re going to be so organized and productive, and everything in our life is just going to fall into place, right? 😉 Unfortunately, by a few weeks in, all of our good intentions seem to fall by the wayside, and we end up slipping back into old habits. I would always fall into this cycle, too, but then a few years ago I discovered a productivity technique that has been a total game changer for me.
I’ve talked about this technique on the blog before, but I think it’s helpful to bring it up again at this time of year because maybe, just maybe, it will be the thing that will help you be productive all year long, not just at the beginning of the school year. Have you guessed what it is?
It’s time blocking.
Time blocking is when you take your to-do list and assign tasks to a specific time of the day. You literally plan out your whole day hour by hour. When I first heard about this technique, I thought it would be too strict and limiting– planning out every second of my day?! That sounded a little extreme. What I found, though, was exactly the opposite; it was actually kind of freeing.
You see, I love organization, but I naturally tend to be kind of scatterbrained. I will be working on one project and remember something I have to do, so I leave in the middle of project #1 and try to complete project #2. Inevitably, I remember something else I need to do, so while projects #1 and #2 are sitting there halfway finished, I start project #3. By the end of the day I have a bunch of half finished projects and don’t really feel like I’ve accomplished anything.
Can any of you other creatives out there relate? 😉
What time blocking does for me, then, is frees up my brain to work on one project at a time. If I’m working on something and remember an email I need to respond to, I know I have time blocked out later in my day to answer emails, so I can continue with the project I’m working on and handle the email during the scheduled time. I’m no longer dashing from project to project.
Time blocking also limits my distractions. If I only have 30 minutes to complete a certain task before I need to move on to the next item on my list, I know I don’t have time to scroll through Facebook or Instagram; I need to focus! Time blocking keeps me on task, which means I’m wasting less time and accomplishing more.
Of course, when I discovered how helpful time blocking could be with productivity, I did what I always do– I made a printable!
When I use the printable, I start by listing all of my “to dos” for the day in the box at the top. I usually break my list into three categories– home, personal, and blog. I also write down anyone I need to contact and use the box on the bottom right to jot down anything I need to buy. I then move to the time blocking section, which is broken down by hour. I first put in any set appointments or commitments I have that day, and then I add in my to-do list tasks in the remaining time slots. Everything on my list gets assigned a time. Then at the end of the day, I look back at how everything went and use the small box at the bottom to reflect on what went well and where I could improve.
Can I tell you a secret? My day almost never goes exactly how I have planned it out. Life happens! The Cs need my help. Something takes longer than I think it will. I get interrupted by a phone call or get stuck in traffic. But that’s okay. Having a goal, something to shoot for helps to motivate me to stay on task and accomplish what I set out to accomplish for the day. Whatever I don’t get done can be put on tomorrow’s list, and I can start all over again. It’s great to be productive, but we also need to give ourselves some grace! 🙂
Of course, I wouldn’t just dangle my very favorite printable out in front of you without giving you the chance to snag it for free, so you can download it below!
Do you have any tips or tricks for being more productive throughout the day? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!