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Block scheduling? Isn’t that just for schools? Well, no actually!
When you own a business, your days are full. You go from one task to another and one project to the next. Then we have emails to answer, phone calls and meetings and other distractions. If you have a spouse and kids, there is even more to add to your ever-growing list.
It feels that nothing ever gets done, right?
You feel like you are spinning your wheels but never really going anywhere.
You can work 80 hours a week, outsource some tasks or, you can work smarter with block scheduling.
What is Block Scheduling?
Block scheduling is a simple time management technique where you schedule like or related tasks into blocks.
For example, instead of checking your email throughout the day as new emails land in your inbox, you set aside time to check and respond to emails and don’t touch your inbox the rest of the day.
Let’s say, you get into your office at 8:00am. You focus on emails from 8:00-8:30 then move on to your next time block.
I like to set aside email time in the morning and again at the end of the day for another 30 minutes.
The key to successful block scheduling is organizing all of the tasks that you need to do and then scheduling blocks of time to focus on just those tasks.
This eliminates multi-tasking (which, really is not a good thing) and minimizes distractions and interruptions in your workday.
Effective block scheduling will help you check off more items from your to-do list and overall, be more productive.
So how do we organize those tasks?
There are a few ways to do this, depending on your individual business (or businesses) and how you like to work.
I own or co-own several businesses.
My block schedule may look something like this:
8:00am-8:30am – Check email
8:30am-10:00am – Business #1 tasks
10:00am-11:30am – Business #2 tasks
11:30am-1:00pm – Business #3 tasks
I can break down the tasks by like types instead of businesses like this:
8:00-8:30am – Check email
8:30am-9:30am – Pinterest for all businesses
9:30am-11:00am – Write content for all businesses (based on content calendar)
11:00am-12:00pm – Facebook content for all businesses
What block scheduling does is gives entrepreneurs more structure to their daily schedules.
Your blocks of time can be as little as 5-10 minutes (engaging on Facebook, for example) or an entire day when you need more focused time (like course content creation.)
When you use block scheduling, you are given all of your attention to the task for that block – including quality time with your family.
Why Block Scheduling Works and Makes You More Productive
Studies have shown block scheduling to make you more productive for many reasons:
First, by giving your full attention to one task or related set of tasks, you can focus more on what is important.
Second, by organizing related tasks, your brain does not have to change gears as often. Financial tasks, like paying bills or creating a budget uses a different part of your brain than writing a blog post.
By segmenting tasks, you can use the same area of your brain, are less likely to get distracted, and can better focus on the task at hand.
It also gives you structure, which helps you accomplish more.
Other benefits of block scheduling include:
- Ability to identify task priorities (urgent, important, not important, but helpful, etc.)
- Avoiding procrastination.
- Allowing you to stop saying “I’ll do this later” as you have set aside time to get it done.
- Gives you boundaries and the freedom to say “no” to invitations or requests that don’t fit into your schedule.
- Encourages commitment to what is really important for your business to succeed.
- Encourages you to set realistic blocks of time to complete tasks.
How to Create a Block Schedule That Works For You
If you are already feeling overwhelmed, block scheduling may feel like another stressful tasks, but when you take just a few minutes to organize your day and eventually your week or month, you will find that it is truly freeing and helps you to be more productive.
You are scheduling out every single task. Instead, you are grouping like tasks and scheduling blocks around the tasks so you can give your undivided attention to each type.
Organize Your Tasks
When I sit down to schedule my week, I look for recurring themes on my task lists.
Let’s say I have Facebook content scheduling on two of the lists, I may add an hour to an hour and a half on my block schedule for Facebook content creation and scheduling.
Perhaps, if I have a course that I am creating, I may schedule and entire day to focus just on that.
By keeping track of your tasks and priorities, you can easily group related tasks when setting your block schedule.
Establish, Then Block Out Your Priorities
Then, take a look at your priorities (I know, I know, as a business owner it seems that everything is a priority).
Here’s a helpful tip about setting priorities: What is going to earn you money? Sure, you’d like to update your ‘about me’ page, but you have an idea for a great opt in and sales funnel to one of your paid programs. Which one is a higher priority? If you can earn sales from it, the opt in would be the higher priority. Think of your return on investment (ROI).
Spending 2 hours setting up an opt in with sales funnel could earn you hundreds of dollars where updating your about me page would be a “nice to do” item on your list.
Now that you have grouped your tasks into similar types, added in your important activities and set your priorities, it’s time to fill in your block schedule.
Keep in mind when you function best. For me, I am most awake and productive before noon. I schedule my most important tasks before lunchtime.
After lunch, I schedule my next highest priority for the day and so on.
Consider Block Days Instead of Hours
When you have a major project to do or find that one or two groups of tasks are larger than others, consider blocking out whole days to focus on those tasks.
You might do something like this:
Meetings and phone calls on Monday
Tuesday – social media
Wednesday and Thursday – content creation
Fridays – catch up on other tasks and personal appointments
Schedule In “Me-Time”
Everyone needs a break. Not just a day off, but mini-breaks throughout the day.
Be sure to add in time for lunch or just ten minutes to take a walk, stretch, or maybe even shut your eyes for an eye and mental break.
You should also pad in some extra time in case of an emergency or a meeting running late.
By doing this, if something comes up, you won’t completely blow your schedule and feel a panic to catch up.
Use the Block Schedule, But Be Flexible
Let’s be real for a moment. You are creating a block schedule to be more productive and to set aside focused time to accomplish work.
You plan to focus on the task in your block schedule and only that. Emails and phone calls can wait. Let your family know that from this time to this time, you are not to be interrupted, but things happen.
The emails can wait until your next scheduled email time but if your child bangs their head on the coffee table, you are going to need to be flexible. Life happens – and we can’t always plan for emergencies. Be kind to yourself and be flexible.
Schedule Time Blocks for Planning and Administrative Tasks
While it’s easy to think of all of the things you need to get done to build your business, don’t forget about planning and administrative tasks, such as:
- Content planning schedule
- Monthly and yearly goal setting
- Market research
- Bookkeeping, bill paying
- Office and file (including computer files) organizing
- And, even time off with no work to just do whatever you want to do.
Use a Block Scheduling Planning Tool
Committing your block schedule to an actual calendar is key to staying on track. You can use a calendar app like Google calendar or even Trello or Asana, or you can use a paper version. I use a combination of both.
We’ve included a block-scheduling calendar for you below. Print it and start your new, more productive business life!
Evaluate and Revamp
Once you have used the block scheduling time management technique for a day or week, you will start to figure out what works best for you. Some people like to use the same calendar week over week. Others, like me, need to create a new one each week, based on that week’s priorities.
Whatever you decide, take the time once week or month, to evaluate what’s working and what’s not and revamp your block schedule, accordingly.
For example, if you have been blocking out two hours to write a blog post, but are finding that you need more time, you may want to schedule three hours next time.
It’s your schedule and only you know how long it takes to complete a task. Your block schedule will take some fine-tuning, but soon, it will be your number one tool for productivity.
Do you currently use a block schedule? What tips do you have to share? If not, what’s stopping you from giving it a try?
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