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A very important concept that you will learn with prioritization is another strategy that can help you better manage your time, and it is called time blocking.
Tip 2: Time Blocking
The lack of focus can easily alter one’s level of productivity. Instead of accomplishing tasks on time, you can waste hours procrastinating at your desk. An excellent strategy to help you manage your time better is called time blocking. The concept is simple. To make every workday as productive as possible, you should assign specific tasks to specific time blocks during the day.
Rigid as it may seem, scheduling tasks on fixed time blocks actually works quite effectively because doing so trains the mind to work with time limits per task. It is also a great way of keeping track of your work. By having distinct time allotments for your entire shift, you can do away with costly distractions and unproductive multitasking. Every minute has a purpose.
Although a number of people consider multitasking to be a special skill, it has been proven counter-intuitive to being productive. It removes distinct focus away from each of the tasks. Instead of tasks being completed, each one is left partially done.
With time blocking, you can ensure that you achieve certain levels of progress on specific tasks at the right time. By having a full-proof structure in place, you get to experience close to double the productivity that you are used to given your standard workweek. You will be surprised as to the number of tasks you get to accomplish a shift.
Like other time management strategies, to succeed at a time blocking, you need to engage yourself in serious and dedicated planning. It is very important that you give sufficient time for planning. By doing so, you can actually save more time during your workweek for other, more meaningful, activities. Your time spent planning will indeed be time well spent.
You can do this overnight, before heading for the sheets, or in the morning as you prepare for your upcoming shift. Start by writing out about three to five of your most important tasks for the day. Focus on tasks that need to be completed as soon as possible. Follow this list with another one this time to carry three to five secondary tasks, those that can be pushed to the next day if time doesn’t permit their completion.
After completing your lists, proceed by chunking your shift into time blocks. For example, if you have a typical 8-hour workday, divide these eight hours into blocks fitting the five vital tasks for the day. Estimate how much time you need for each high-priority task. If you have done so and still have time leftover, proceed with scheduling any of your secondary tasks.
Always remember to divide the tasks accordingly. Be mindful of the time you allot for each one. Although it can be tempting to make a schedule that fits everything into the day, always remind yourself to be practical. The goal is to finish as much as you can without pushing yourself too hard. Keep in mind that if you become overwhelmed with your schedule, you may find it difficult to focus and end up procrastinating. If you want to try the time blocking strategy out, here are the things that you have to take into account.
Set schedules for all tasks, major and menial.
Surely, you have different tasks that need addressing during your workday. There are those who require your utmost attention to reports, project updates, and the like while others are routine like answering calls or responding to emails. When you time block, you should consider all of these tasks. Every single one should have a schedule. What will vary is how much time you will spend on them and on which hour of the shift you will schedule them in.
For example, if your work requires constant internal and external communication, allow a couple of hours for answering emails and work-related calls. It would be best to inform your correspondents about your schedule, especially for phone calls, so that they will know when to expect a response from you. This way, you won’t be interrupted while you work and you won’t miss any important communication. Remove distractions.
Distractions should be avoided as much as possible. Doing so will not be a walk in the park, but you have to set limitations not only for yourself but also when it comes to the people that you work with. For example, putting up a simple “Do Not Disturb” sign by your door or desk will be a good effort in letting people know that you are currently unavailable. The key to successful time blocking is keeping up with the time blocks – sticking with the principles in play – addressing scheduled tasks as they have been planned and foregoing the rest for the time being. Focus on the task at hand, keep calls, emails, other correspondences, even your social media exposure at bay. Try it out, and you will be amazed at how well your sense of focus will develop.
Avoid being over-specific when scheduling tasks.
When it comes to time blocking, although it is important to specify tasks, you should not be over-specific when it comes to what you wish to achieve. For example, if you have an hour to allow for a task, it is better to program it as “Create project layout” rather than “Complete project layout.” In essence, both have the same integral meaning, but the first one allows ideas to be collected during the hour while the second one implies that you will fail if you don’t have a ready layout by the end of the hour. By not being too specific, you get work done without placing any unnecessary stress on yourself. Doing so, you will remain motivated for the entire day.
Keep and update detailed notes.
One of the most important things with the process of time blocking involves serious note taking. Considering that you will be faced with several tasks that need addressing, having as many details as possible with regard to the nature of the task, the effort needed to complete it, and your plan of action will help you become more organized in turn helping you use time more wisely.
Especially if a certain task will not take a single day to complete, have updated notes as to what you did last and at what point you need to continue working. Do not push notetaking to the next day. While you work and as soon as you complete the scheduled component of a project, immediately jot down everything. This ensures that you will always be on the right track.
Monitor your progress.
In the same way, as you review each component of a complex task, you should also review your progress, efficiency, and productivity when you time block. Start by creating a personal progress report after every week. Review the projects that you have undertaken and those who have been completed. Review your level of productivity for the time blocks you have applied.
This information will help you tweak the system into something that works for your benefit. By understanding your capacity and ability to work, you can better schedule time blocks for future endeavours. Using this information, you can have a better gauge of estimating how much time is needed for certain kinds of work and which time of the day it would be best to work on them.
Be mindful of your body clock.
Aside from understanding your capacity for work, you should also have a clear understanding of your body clock. Your body clock determines what kinds of tasks – simple or complex – you are more capable of handling at the start of your workday. It also determines at what time of the day your brain is most active and ready to tackle your most complicated or demanding workplace requirements.
By knowing at which hours of the day you are at your most productive element, you can schedule tasks better and get more things done before you sign off for the day. For example, if you discover that your level of focus reaches its peak in the afternoon rather than in the morning, you can then plan to address your most important projects later in the day and deal with menial tasks when you arrive for work.
Don’t be a stiff.
Do not misconstrue time blocking with being anything but professional when it comes to working. Even the strictest of professionals set aside time for play. In the workplace, it is ideal for you to take breaks every now and then. Aside from your lunch hour, take several minutes in the morning and afternoon to walk around and stretch. Even a few minutes can do you good. Take a breath and clear your mind.
Use reminders that actually work.
Use reminders. No matter how impressive you think your memory is when the brain is filled with tons of information, there is always a chance of ideas slipping off your mind. Use reminders that work for you. It can be something as simple as coloured post-it notes or something that pops up from your mobile phone.Other Details
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