Productivity in the workplace can be difficult to manage, with many models to employ. Time blocking is a relatively new productivity method that is taking hold with many big businesses around the world.
But what is it and how does it work? Read on to find out more.
What Is Time Blocking?
Time blocking, sometimes called calendar blocking, is a time management technique that helps you schedule and plan your work. It does this by blocking specific time slots for specific activities. The main reason to use time blocking is to increase the productivity of both you and your employees.
How Does Time Blocking Make You More Productive?
The main reason that time blocking works is it helps focus workers on a single task and prevents distractions from occurring. This can increase productivity in the following ways:
- Increases focus by providing fixed goals. Because time blocking gives a set amount of time to finish a specific task, it prompts workers to stay focused on what they are doing and gives them a goal to aim towards.
- It reduces distractions. Because time blocking focuses on one specific task for a period of time, workers remain focused for longer. No more figuring out what to do next or procrastinating as they meander between tasks at will.
- Increases the rate of work of employees. Because workers have a limited, predetermined amount of time to finish a task, it urges them to keep a high pace of work in order to finish on time.
- It can help with planning. Because the principle of time blocking lies in constant scheduling, it reduces the time required for planning. With time blocking, you define priorities and allocate specific time periods to them. This can ease the burden of scheduling.
- It helps reduce confusion. With time blocking, every worker should know what they are doing at any given time. This can reduce the confusion of what to do next and lessen the chance of an employee completing the wrong task at the wrong time.
What Are Other Popular Productivity Methods?
There are many alternative productivity models to time blocking. These include:
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is a relatively new concept that became popular in the 1980s. In its simplest form, the Pomodoro Technique involves a method of short bursts of intense work, followed by a short period of rest. The length of these periods can vary, but many workplaces employ 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break model. Often, timers are used to help workers stick to the timings set out.
This method works on an effort yields reward model. Every burst of work is rewarded with a period of rest, which allows the employee to get ready for the next work period.
The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, works on the theory that 20 percent of your work is responsible for 80 percent of your output. Using the rule means focussing on the top 20 percent of your most important workflows. As long as workers get these tasks done each day, your business will continue moving toward its goals.
If you feel you spend too much time on menial tasks, then batching may be the productivity model for you. With this model, employers batch together smaller and reactive tasks at specified times of the day. For example, you may set aside 20 minutes to reply to emails and return missed calls before you finish in the evening. This way, the chief part of your workday is left free for more important tasks.
Batching smaller tasks together can help save time and give a greater feeling of accomplishment, as you tick off more items from your to-do list in one go.
Multi-tasking is great… if you can do it right. But for many people, multi-tasking is a sure-fire way to induce hesitation and procrastination. Single-tasking is the method of focussing on one task and sticking with it until completion. This may sound similar to time blocking, but single-tasking time isn’t blocked out for individual tasks and instead is solely set aside for one task.
Is Time Blocking Effective?
When used consistently, time blocking is an effective time-management system and productivity tool. When workers set time aside to work deeply on a specific task to the exclusion of everything else, their ability to focus improves and productivity levels increase.
What Are the Advantages of Time Blocking?
The benefits of time blocking are many and include:
Prevents To-Do List Confusion
To-do-lists don’t account for time. This makes it hard for workers to choose which tasks they should attempt first and invariably leads to them tackling those that they can complete quickly first. This is fine if there are no time constraints on the tasks. But if you have a larger task with a deadline, issues can arise.
It Discourages Multitasking
Time blocking is the opposite of multi-tasking, which may seem like a bad thing. But multi-tasking can kill productivity as workers lose focus on their tasks. By scheduling chunks of time for a specific task or problem, time blocking promotes deep-focused work.
It Combats Procrastination
Procrastination is one of time management’s most challenging adversaries. Thankfully, time blocking provides an outstanding model for combating it. Time blocking encourages employees to focus on tasks and provides them with goals that they must reach.
It Promotes Reflection
At the end of a project, it can sometimes be difficult to look back and see where issues arose. Time blocking allows managers to review each time period and see how productive teams were so they can refine processes in the future.
What are the Disadvantages of Time Blocking?
There are drawbacks to time blocking that you should be aware of. These include:
- Time blocking can be too rigid. If your calendar is jam-packed, time blocking provides little flexibility and can prevent you from handling emergencies.
- It can take the fun out of tasks. The rigid structure of time blocking can make work a rote experience with little in the way of spontaneous working.
- It can fall apart if time estimates are wayward. Time blocking requires excellent planning skills. Not giving enough time to a block of work can have a tremendous impact on a project and lead to subsequent blocks being delayed.
What Tools Can Be Used to Practice it?
There are a variety of different tools available for time blocking from your phone or computers inbuilt calendars, to spreadsheet software like Excel, to dedicated software designed for time blocking. What you choose will depend on your needs and budget.
- Clock in and out from browser
- Time tracking via Phone & Tablet app
- View & approve time records online
- Export timesheets to payroll
- View & approve staff vacation requests
- Overview of employee availability & absences
Time blocking is a superb model for increasing productivity in the workplace but does come with a few caveats. When employed correctly, workers perform better and tasks get done quicker.