The Working With… Podcast

How To Time Block Efectively

March 14, 2022

This week’s question is about time blocking effectively. 

 

You can subscribe to this podcast on:

Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN

 

Links:

Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin

 

The Working With… Weekly Newsletter

The Time And Life Mastery Course

The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System

Carl Pullein Learning Centre

Carl’s YouTube Channel

Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes

The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page

 

Episode 222 | Script

Hello and welcome to episode 222 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

Have you ever tried time blocking? I suspect many of you have tried; probably with mixed results. 

Now for those of you who don’t know about time blocking, time blocking is where you block out increments of time on your calendar for doing work without being interrupted. It prevents other people from scheduling you in meetings and it gives you a sense that you have enough time to do your work each day. 

Does time blocking work?

Yes. It does work, but it only works if you build flexibility into it. There’s a lot of conflicting advice around time blocking. Possibly the worst piece of advice is to block out every minute of the day for your activities. I’ve never met anyone who has been able to successfully do that. 

There are just far too many things that could go wrong when you micromanage your time in that way. Firstly, meetings rarely start and finish on time, traffic jams can cause you delays and then there are all the potential tech issues. 

Time blocking only works if you first know what you need to do and secondly you build in flexibility. Then you only need to add in a little discipline and your productivity AND time management skyrockets. 

Now, before I hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice, If you don’t know already, I have a YouTube channel that is full of advice, tips and tricks on time management, goal setting and productivity. So, if you are looking for a place to help you improve your time management and so much more, then head over and take a look. I am sure there will be something that will help you. 

Plus, you can get all my YouTube videos, PLUS blog post and this podcast in one convenient place by joining my weekly newsletter. You can join with the link in the show notes.

Okay, let me now hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. 

This week’s question comes from Ally. Ally asks; Hi Carl, I’ve heard you occasionally talk about time blocking and I think I know what it means. Do you have any tips or tricks for time blocking effectively? 

Hi Ally, thank you for your question. 

You’re right I have spoken about time blocking and for me it is a big part of why I can consistently write blog posts, do this podcast and produce YouTube videos every week while at the same time running a full time coaching and teaching business. 

However, to get the most out of time blocking is does involve a bit more than simply blocking time out each day on your calendar. You need to know that what you are doing during your blocked time is important and moving the right things forward. 

Let me explain. 

I’ve seen advice such as block out time for doing focused work each day. Now on the surface that makes sense. After all, if you dedicate two or three hours a day for doing important work without interruptions, you will get a lot done right? 

Well, yes and no. You see, if you don’t know what you are going to do in those two or three hours before you start, you are going to waste a lot of time trying to decide what to do. If you want your time blocked sessions to be productive, you need to know precisely what you will do before you start. 

And that means doing some forward planning—something most people are terrible at.—I struggle to persuade people to give themselves ten minutes at the end of a day to plan the next. If they also need to plan what to do in a three-hour focused time block as well it’s not going to be likely. 

I should point out that daily and weekly planning is the secret weapon of all highly productive people. These are the people who know what needs to be done and when. They are rarely if ever stressed and you will never find them overwhelmed. It’s impossible to be overwhelmed when you know what you have to do and you know when you will do it. And if a crisis happens, you absorb it like water does with a rock and quickly get back on track. 

Anyway, I digress. 

The first thing you need to know is what is important to you. And that really does mean what is important to you—not your company or your clients. What’s important in your life? 

How important is spending time with your family? Exercise? Taking a walk in nature? Meditation? These all need time. Time is not something you can magically pull out of a hat on demand. If you want to do something you must allocate time for it. If that’s not a law of physics it should be. 

Now, most people operate on an “if I have time” principle. If I have time I will call my parents. If I have time I’ll go for a run this weekend. If I have time I will clear out the garage. 

The problem is the “if I have time” principle does not work. This is why so many garages don’t have any space for the cars they were built for. It’s why almost 60% of the western world are overweight and why so many parents complain they rarely hear from their children these days. 

We never have ‘spare’ time. If you want to do something you have to schedule it. You have to make a commitment to yourself to do it. 

Your garage would get cleared if for the next three Saturdays you scheduled 10 am to 1 pm for garage cleaning and it was blocked in your calendar. You would get control of your health if you scheduled 30 minutes every day for exercise and your parents would be a lot happier if you made 7 pm on a Saturday night the time you call your parents. 

So the first step to time blocking effectively is to schedule time for doing the things you want to do. Start with yourself. That way your work is not going to dominate your life. 

Next, your work. Here we need to ask the question: What is my core work? This is the work you are employed to do. 

Now a salesperson is not employed to spend 80% of their time filling out CRMs and documents for the benefit of lazy sales managers. A Salesperson is employed to sell. So, at least 80% of their time needs to be spent selling or doing work that is likely to result in a sale—follow-ups, calling customers and meeting prospects. 

A salesperson’s core work is to sell. So any activity that leads to a sale, needs to be blocked out on their calendar. 

This applies equally to teachers, designers, architects, real estate agents and doctors. Time spent doing the work you are trained and employed to do needs to be blocked out on your calendar. 

Now, of course, teachers and doctors are likely to have some kind of rota system (a kind of time blocking if you think about it) where they are either teaching or on duty. When I taught at the university, the university gave me my teaching schedule and I entered that into my calendar. 

When it came to marking exam papers, that was time I needed to block out, but the university told me the date they wanted the papers returned, so it was easy for me to find the two or three days I needed to mark and evaluate the papers. 

Whatever work you do, you will have some core duties that are your responsibility, It is these core duties you need to find time blocking for each week. 

Now, a little tip here. If you can fix these time blocks for set times per week you will find your life is a lot easier. For instance, I write one blog post and two newsletters each week. In total, I need around five hours each week to do this, so I block three hours out on a Monday morning called “writing time” and two hours on a Tuesday morning. This ensures that I always have time each week to do my writing. 

Likewise, I need three hours for doing my YouTube videos each week, so I have three hours blocked out on a Friday morning for that. 

These times are fixed and it makes life so much easier. When I begin the week, I know I have time for my writing and video recording. 

Now, I know it might not be possible to fix time like this, but see if you can. It makes planning the week so much easier.

Here’s a tip for you. 

Design your “perfect” week. To do this create a new calendar in your calendar app and call it “Perfect week”. Then from a blank calendar sketch out how you would lie your week to be with all your personal work time blocks. 

You want to include how much sleep you want by putting in you're going to bed and waking up times. Then how long do you want for yourself in the morning for morning routines etc? Make sure you have plenty of blank spaces for the unexpected. 

This gives you a good idea of how your week would look if you had everything you want to do on there and will help you decide if it is possible. Often you might find what you want to do and the time you have available is not realistic and you can make some modifications. 

Time blocking is a very effective way to get control of your time and ensure you get the things you want to do done. But, you need to commit to it and treat your calendar as sacred territory. It’s no good spending time building your “perfect” week and then ignoring your calendar. If you do decide that time blocking, or some form of it, is for you then commit to doing it. This is not something you dabble at. It’s something you commit to. 

I hope that has helped, Ally. Thank you for your question. And before we finish, I have just finished recording a new course on time blocking. Details of this will be on my website in the coming days if it’s not already there. 

Thank you for listening and it just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week. 

 

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App